Normally I leave the TV coverage to the more-than-capable care of Dan Fienberg, Alan Sepinwall, and Liane Starr, but today I feel obligated to make special mention of a show that I think has been crushing it, week in and week out.
After all, isn’t that the point of having a platform like this? When I see “Drunk History” on Comedy Central getting better week after week, I want to make sure people are tuning in so I can get more episodes in the future. I was familiar with the short films that Derek Waters created for the website “Funny or Die,” and I think it’s a fiendishly simple premise for a recurrent comedy piece. The idea, if you haven’t seen the show, is exactly what it sounds like. Waters asks funny people to explain a historical incident while they are busy getting as drunk as they can possibly be.
At the same time, we see a recreation by actors in costume, and when they speak, they are perfectly in-synch with the storyteller, complete with drunken hesitation, belching, vomiting and more. And watching actors play that dialogue, perfectly timed, I think it’s incredibly funny, a beautiful next level to a joke that is already funny.
If you haven’t seen one of these before, let me share one with you that perfectly sums up how great the show has been this year:
I love the way the show emphasizes the language and rhythm of storytelling, and the way people’s storytelling is affected by drinking. There’s something great about asking someone to tell you a story that they find fascinating anyway. In this case, it’s the storyteller’s personal history, a tale about his father and the way he discovered that he was growing up in the witness relocation program because his father had been a professional arsonist. Watch Bob Odenkirk when he shows up as “The Guy.” He manages to capture the exact cadence of the storyteller, turning his eccentricities into very funny gestures, beautifully timed, and then Nick Offerman has to do it as well, and it’s that one-two precision that makes me laugh so hard.
Waters has put together an amazing run of guest stars for this first season, and right now, you can watch most of the season on Hulu, with two episodes still exclusively available from Comedy Central’s own website. Obviously, the show also airs on the network, but I’m glad it’s going to hang around online for a while so people can catch up with it.
Sure, it might help if we published these types of articles before a show goes on the air, but that’s not always how people find shows, and particularly not today. Thanks to the sheer volume of media being produced, no one can see everything, and sometimes people don’t catch with a show until years after it first aired. I hope “Drunk History” is on the road to a second season, and that they continue to get both great storytellers and excellent recreation actors.
Best casting move this season? Winona Ryder came on to play Mary Dyer, and if you’re familiar with her work in period dramas like “The Age Of Innocence” or, specifically, “The Crucible,” the casting pays off in spades, and she plays it with such earnestness that I ended up just weeping from laughter.
If you want to check out previous installments, you can go here to see the “Funny Or Die” episodes, here for the Hulu archive, and right here to see the Comedy Central exclusive episodes. Taken as a whole, that’s a whole lot of entertainment that’s just a click away.