The Sobering Background of Drunk History

by Regis Schratz ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln (Starring Will Ferrell & Don Cheadle)
Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln (Starring Will Ferrell & Don Cheadle)


In CE 2007, the founding fathers of Funny or Die, Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner, gave life to an underappreciated web series by the name of Drunk History. Now, this program stumbles down the red carpet to see how it stacks up against other variety sketch series.

In the program, inebriated narrators played by comedians struggle to recount events in American history, while actors enact the narrator’s tale and struggle to lip sync the dialog. Among the first standout performances was Michael Cera as Alexander Hamilton in the events leading up to his duel with Aaron Burr. Funny or Die, known for its celebrity cameos, was a natural platform for this series to succeed. Other cameos include Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel and Don Cheadle, as Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln and Frederick Douglass respectively.

Upon watching the early web episodes after seeing the show’s new television format, it is clear that the production quality has exponentially increased since the switch. Now funded by Comedy Central, personal favors and scrambling for shooting locations are no longer necessary. Regardless, the homegrown quality of the show was not lost in its transition from web to television, which is rare in such conversions.

If a show such as Drunk History proves to be successful on this scale, it will encourage television executives to look for more web to television conversions such as this, as an already dedicated fanbase and experience will be there from day one. Its roots allow it to stand out from its competition; Portlandia, Saturday Night Live, and Inside Amy Schumer hardly seem as though they are in the same genre. If it takes home the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, Drunk History may provide a prediction as to where sketch comedy is headed in the future.

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