Start with Jack Black as Elvis acting out the slurred words of comedian Eric Edelstein explaining just a piece of Washington DC history and you have the season premiere of Drunk History. Perhaps one the of most “real” reality shows on television, the show came from writer and humorist Derek Waters who in 2007 had an idea: get his comic friends completely blasted (to the point of puking), have them tell an opinionated piece of loose history, and then have some famous actors play it out.
The highlight though is that the audio comes from the drunken comedian. It started as an Internet phenomenon that lived on funnyordie.com, the website that gives a home to the odd whims of amusing people, and only this year was picked up by Comedy Central for an eight episode stint to see if the appeal carries over. With only two episodes aired and a long list of A-list celebrities still to come (including Kristin Wig and Luke and Owen Wilson), it will be surprising if it fails considering its online success and the caliber of talent involved here.
While the online version consisted of a hodgepodge of small episodes that focused on a specific historical event, Drunk History the TV show attempts to tackle solely American history. The first episode covered American presidents (Nixon and Lincoln), while the second installment brings the show to Chicago where none other than Al Capone takes center stage and is portrayed as a syphilitic moron as garbled by writer Tommy Blacha.
Fully costumed with period clothing, the show brings late night intoxicated storytelling to life. It even includes the vomit and side-barred conversations all meshed together in an unexpected and refreshing way. It cuts out the pre-written or even pre-thought elements of staged shows and gives life to the spontaneity of a drunken person. One who crawls around and just wants to make pizza.
As Drunk History continues, tackling Boston and the Wild West, the show will go one of two ways. It could fail because the audience either doesn’t get it or has moved on since finding it online, or it will succeed and even bigger celebrities will tackle even more ridiculous story lines.
Did you watch Drunk History online? What do you think of the TV series? Is it as innovative and hilarious, or is just another great idea from the Web that doesn’t translate to television?