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"And Lincoln wasn't a douchebag. He was like, ok, I'll meet with him."
August 26, 2013 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Do you like history? Do you like drunk people? If you answered yes to these two questions, you may like Drunk History, where you get to see what happens when a drunk historian explains what happened. The original web series was previously discussed twice on metafilter. Now there's more:

The original web series from Funny or Die was started by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner in 2007.
Vol 1: Alexander Hamilton
Vol 2: Benjamin Franklin
Vol 2.5: More Benjamin Franklin
Vol 3: Oney Judge, Martha and George Washington
Vol 4: William Henry Harrison
Vol 5: Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
Vol 6: Nikola Tesla

In July 2013 Drunk History became a Comedy Central program, with clips available on youtube.
Al Capone
The Alamo
Art Heist
Booth Brothers
Coca Cola
Detroit
Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner
Elvis meets Nixon
Felt and Woodward
The Gold Dust Twins
Haymarket Riot
Houdini
Joan of Arc
Lewis and Clark
Lincoln the Lawyer
Mark Twain
Martin Luther King, Jr. and J. Edgar Hoover
Mary Dyer
Mary Ellen Pleasant
Moses
Oscar Wilde
Patty Hearst
Paul Revere's Ride
The Scopes Monkey Trial
Stetson Kennedy and the KKK

Bonus Christmas Special: Drunk Visit from St. Nicholas
posted by medusa (24 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
i miss the half-assedness of the costumes of the earlier ones. little things like michael cera rockin converses and the super bad wigs and beards really added to it. these seem a bit too polished.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 5:04 PM on August 26, 2013


stupidest thing on tv - apparently stupid sells
posted by caddis at 5:24 PM on August 26, 2013


also i'm glad that jenn kirkman came back. i loved her histories.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 5:40 PM on August 26, 2013


stupidest thing on tv

I certainly don't think so. I love that it's about asking someone who's wasted to tell you a story, but instead of it being a story about themselves, it's about something they really know about. It's fun.

My favorite part is when they incorporate what the teller says/does into the reenactment, like John Wilkes Booth forgetting his lines after he's killed Lincoln.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:09 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I get the sense that in the new ones, it's not something the storyteller really knows or cares about; like basically they're given a run-down off wikipedia before-hand that they try to recite. Except for the one being told by the guy who's dad was Johnny Cool. I don't like this aspect of the new ones especially when it's being told by someone you know is a comedian and is probably hamming it up.
posted by bleep at 6:12 PM on August 26, 2013


I saw it when it was a Funny or Die video, and was meh - it's much, much better now. They're real historians, and they're really drunk. It replicates very authentically what some late-night conference conversations are like, and it's great.
posted by Miko at 6:37 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Tesla episode is by far the best. I remember watching it the first time and it said the guy drank a six-pack of beer. I thought to myself, "That's it? Lame."

But then... and half a bottle of absinthe. I thought "Now this is going to be interesting."
posted by XhaustedProphet at 6:38 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm loving the Scopes Monkey Trial episode and the way the scholar can't stop calling the witness "Williams Jenning Bryan."
posted by Miko at 6:45 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do they say anywhere that they're real historians? Jen Kirkman is definitely a comedian, I know because for some reason Paul F. Tompkins made us listen to her entire life story on his podcast.
posted by bleep at 6:47 PM on August 26, 2013


You're right, they're not all historians. They are from a variety of fields.
posted by Miko at 6:49 PM on August 26, 2013


(I would actually really like to see it done with all real historians. I think if anything it would be funnier, and weirder).
posted by Miko at 6:52 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. My 16-year old son and I have just started watching, and from the promos we thought it would be stupid or bad, as sometimes Comedy Central programs are. But the history's pretty accurate, just told drunk, and watching the big-name actors lip-sync to the drunk ramblings of the storyteller is quite fun.
posted by LEGO Damashii at 6:52 PM on August 26, 2013


stupidest thing on tv

Yeah that's the stupidest hyperbole I've seen in some time. TV is chock full of horribly stupid and shallow content. It's good that you must not have experienced much but your thread turd couldn't be less informed.
posted by lordaych at 7:43 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I definitely think real historians would make it more real, and then could be people with a BA who always enjoyed history but are stuck doing something else. I think they'd shine and there's no shortage of drinkers in that demo.
posted by lordaych at 7:45 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy cow do these guys need to do one on Tycho Brahe.
posted by dr. boludo at 7:45 PM on August 26, 2013


This show has more history than anything I've seen on the History channel lately.

Now they just need to take it overseas. English as a second language, too much alcohol, and European history seems like a winning combination to me.
posted by ODiV at 7:46 PM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


second language

or third, fourth, fifth...
posted by ODiV at 7:47 PM on August 26, 2013


Yeah that's the stupidest hyperbole I've seen in some time. TV is chock full of horribly stupid and shallow content.

May I suggest The Vineyard.
posted by Miko at 7:52 PM on August 26, 2013


I love drunk history. It's a great combination of random thought processes and very nicely staged theater. (I love stuff like the camera pulling out to reveal a desk plaque that reads "art crime situation", for instance)

I also really enjoyed shit-faced shakespeare at the Fringe in Brighton this spring... I think it was for different reasons, though both of them do combine drunkenness and something sort of highbrow. Major takeaway from seeing both: american drunks puke a LOT more.
posted by mdn at 8:01 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


stupidest thing on tv - apparently stupid sells

Whoa. Hey. Just, whoa. Hey. Whoa. Hey. Let me say something. Just let me say something. Okay. Let me say this. Just let me say one thing. Just let me say. One thing. Okay. Just let me say this. The thing. The thing that I want to say. The thing that I want to say is this.

You are stupid.

Ben Franklin is the best guy and he invented lightning.
posted by tracert at 12:18 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


stupidest thing on tv - apparently stupid sells

It, essentially, means Comedy Central has more actual history on it than the History Channel does these days.

You're right, they're not all historians. They are from a variety of fields.

I was wondering who some of the non-comedian narrators were, and if they were genuine historians then I am all the more impressed -- and I totally offer my services. Derek Waters can bring his cameras up here to North Dakota, get me shitfaced, and I can tell him all sort of crazy stories about seceding from the union and invading Canada and stuff. I rarely drink, but this would totally be worth the hangover.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:45 AM on August 27, 2013


It, essentially, means Comedy Central has more actual history on it than the History Channel does these days.

The History Channel was never very good. When it debuted, it was essentially 24-7 World War II documentaries. Now it seems to focus on quirky people in industries vaguely related to the past, and the shows are rife with misinformation. They've always embraced a definition of "history" that is very traditionally male and very focused on power, military, might. The addition of the alien/paranormal thread isn't making things better. But man, I wish they didn't get that name right off the cable TV bat -someone else could be making far better use of it.
posted by Miko at 7:59 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, I've looked into this show quite a bit because I'm both in love with it and a little annoyed that I'd never be called to serve because I'm (a) too much of a nobody and (b) I'd be too fired. My telling of Truman & MacArthur's relationship during the Korean War is a showstopper.

Actually, they're *all* actors and comedians. Now, a lot of actors and comedians are going to be well read and actually up on history if their comedy is in any way intelligent and informed. Don't confuse funny stories with real history or these guys with real historians. In most cases, they're either telling very well known stories (Monkey Trial), telling very Local Flavor stories (Basically the entire Boston episode), or obviously telling their favorite stories from whatever Pop History they've been reading. (The Lincoln Story is from Team of Rivals, the Boothe story probably comes from the earlier parts of Manhunt). Based on her appearing in several different episodes between Funny or Die and Comedy Central, Jen Kirkman is obviously in a different league from the others: someone is well read and passionate about gender studies and the role of women in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Waters actually said in an interview that he only picks comedians and actors for his show as a matter of personal choice: he say's they're the only people who can tell a punchy story with a beginning, middle, and end.

I think that's just selection bias because he only knows actors and comedians. Of course, in one episode he claims not to understand a Jello Shot, so he could just be an idiot.
posted by absalom at 12:11 PM on August 27, 2013


Whether the storytellers are comedians or historians, my favorites are the ones where the storyteller is personally invest. In the stories they're telling. So many of the stories (like so much of history) tell the tale of some noble loser rising up, making a big difference and being crushed by the system (or getting lost in theor own hubris and becoming a part of the system), and when the storyteller empathises with their protagonist ("fuck George Washington! Icannot ttell a lie?! More like I cannot... tell... an asshole!") it adds an extra layer.

So far I'm enjoying the tv show but not as much as the original web series. I'm guessing there were some growing pains in expanding from an infrequent web series, to a season with already a couple dozen segments. I hope it gets the ratings to keep going on for another season and finding it's footing (or even expanding into Drunk History: Africa, Drunk History: Asia/Europe/etc, Drunk History: War Stories, Drunk History: Animal Stories, or Drunk History: Shit That Definitely Didn't Happen (like, yknow, religious stories, local myths and legends, plus shitty costumes, famous alt comedians, and liquor, obvz)
posted by elr at 3:08 PM on August 27, 2013


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