‘Drunk History’ Goes From Web to Comedy Central

It sounds like the end of a particularly strange night out. All of a sudden, your drunk friend starts narrating a rambling history lesson about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Complete with stumbled-over words, hiccups and emphatic interjections, he describes how John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln and leapt onto the stage. But rather than shouting “sic semper tyrannis” as is actually reported in historical accounts, Booth is described as slurring “This is [bleeping] perfect and everyone gets what I’m doing right now.” These historical stories as drunken reminiscences set the stage for a hilarious new show on Comedy Central called “Drunk History.”


The Origins of Drunk History

Comics Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner cooked up the original gag for “Drunk History.” What if someone got sloppy drunk and inaccurately narrated historical events, taking rambling tangents and focusing on all the strangest bits of the story? Better yet, the comedians decided to cast guest actors to play the historical characters and follow along with the sloppy narration. The first episode of “Drunk History” appeared on the popular website Funny or Die in 2007 and has been a recurring hit on the site ever since.

The Transition from Web Content to Television

Now, Comedy Central has picked up the show and is airing “Drunk History” as a television series. Rather than interfering with your football games or other regular satellite TV viewing on Sundays, viewers can tune in to an inebriated history session every Tuesday night. Some fans wonder how the show will survive the transition to television. However, several other shows that began with Web-only content have been successfully adapted to the small screen. Fans of Ben Stiller’s “Burning Love,” which airs on E!, delight in its brilliant skewering of the reality TV shows “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.” Similarly, Adult Swim has successfully adapted “Children’s Hospital,” a satirical take on the hospital drama genre, to a television format.

Whether “Drunk History” will retain its trademark stupid drunk humor on Comedy Central remains to be seen. Much of what makes the show so hilarious is its reliance on popular Hollywood actors to play the parts of historical characters. Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jack McBrayer and Connie Britton have roles in season one of the Comedy Central series, according to the Boston Globe. Watching these actors keep up with the drunken slurs and strange whims of the narrator is one of the funniest parts of the gag.

Critics Take on Drunk History with Mixed Reviews

Critical reviews of the Comedy Central adaptation of “Drunk History” remain mixed. Some critics complain that the drunk narrator gag gets tired after a few episodes, while others worry that it glorifies binge drinking and makes light of alcoholism. However, other reviewers delight in the satirical portrayal of overly dramatic History Channel docudramas, with over the top costumes and soundtracks designed to heighten the drama. Comedy Central expects the show to make major inroads with the coveted young adult demographic. Although it’s not the type of show you’d sit down to watch with your grandmother, “Drunk History” is poised to become a television hit as it transitions from its Internet roots.