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Sunday, July 14, 2013

DRUNK HISTORY Now Weekly

Article first published as DRUNK HISTORY Now Weekly on TheTVKing.

Drunk History began on funnyordie.com, was featured on HBO's Funny Or Die Presents, and now has its own weekly half hour on Comedy Central. The premise is simple enough - Derek Waters (Hall Pass) gets a person who knows a bit about American history drunk and has them tell a tale. Actors perform the inebriated bits, with the drunk voice dubbed over them.

Drunk History works for a couple of reasons. One, the people participating know what they are talking about, so while they tell things in an amusing way, there is some truth involved, too. Two, the segments are kept short, with Watergate, Lincoln's assassination, and Elvis meeting Nixon all in the first half hour. Third, the costumes and sets are pretty good. Not realistic-makeup good, but not made-in-someone's-basement cheesy, either, making the look work well. And it's edited, so we get some tangents, but the plots remain cohesive enough to follow.

There are lots of recognizable faces participating in Drunk History. In this first episode, Jack Black (Scott of Rock) is Elvis, Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad) is Nixon and 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer is Nixon's aide, Stephen Merchant (Extras) is Lincoln, Fred Willard (Modern Family) is Deep Throat, Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and Will Forte (Saturday Night Live) are the Booth brothers, Jonathan Ames (Bored to Death) plays father Booth, and Nathan Fielder (Nathan For You) portrays Woodward. I think having all of these people involved lends the proceedings credibility.

It's also really funny. The narratives are delivered in a whimsical, light-hearted way. It's enjoyable (for a limited amount of time, such as a half hour) to watch people who are wasted, and by taking the words they say and acting them out with pizazz, it's a lot like hanging out with your friends, only more visual.

I could do without the puking on the floor, though I guess that's a necessary risk, as Slightly Tipsy History wouldn't be nearly as good. But the cookie breaks and the dialogue delivery are wonderful. This is an idea that has proven popular in other venues, so it's nice to see it get its due now.

Drunk History airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.

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