Review: Inebriated Narrators Recount an Inspirational Past in 'Drunk History - The Complete Series'

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday July 12, 2021

Review: Inebriated Narrators Recount an Inspirational Past in 'Drunk History - The Complete Series'

One hazy night well over a decade and a half ago, two inebriated comedian/actors had a drunken conversation. Jake Johnson tried recounting to his friend Derek Waters a notable moment in American music history. He attempted to tell the story of the groundbreaking singer and songwriter, Otis Redding.

Considered one of the greatest singers of pop, soul, rhythm and blues, Redding took gospel music to a whole new level, he advanced civil rights and he influenced a generation of new artists. Tragically, he also died in a plane accident at 26.

You can imagine the scene, there was Johnson slurring and stumbling over his words, trying hard to communicate this important moment. He was becoming verbose and emotionally charged, as we all tend to do when we're drunk, and he was forgetting what it was that he was trying to say.

Waters got an idea: Wouldn't it be fun to watch talented comedians get plastered and recount significant historic moments? Even better, sober comedians could then enact the shit-faced stories, lip syncing the actual words of the narrator.

Right away collaborators jumped aboard. Michael Cera and Ashley Johnson helped Waters put together a drunken account and they posted it on "Funny or Die." Eventually, Waters teamed up with Comedy Central and the producers of "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."

The show was naturally very funny because drunken people were desperately, sometimes hopelessly trying to talk about something important. Add to this a cadre of bright, talented collaborators and the kind of humor that happens naturally in the moment when people are intoxicated, and "Drunk History" was made. But in spite of the levity and the sometimes specious facts, the show ended up being something else. Informative and often inspirational.

Waters is a generous host, an attentive listener, and a brilliant "strait man" to the narrators fumbling. He never condescends or mocks his guests and he drinks along side them, so that they feel comfortable and safe, rather than exploited. Though the humor can be of the frat house variety, the audience has an opportunity to learn something. And learn we do. We are told the stories of important women, Black heroes, Civil Rights icons, spies, scoundrels, mysteries, game changers, literary geniuses and oft ignored Trans and Non-binary people. Waters will never be considered the next Plutarch but his contribution to the teaching of history is still significant.

No less delightful is the voluminous guest stars that appear along the way. Though there are far too many to name, they range from Will Ferrel, Tiffany Haddish, Jenny Slade, J.T. Palmer and Bill Hader to Winona Ryder, Amber Ruffin, Elijah Wood, Seth Rogan, Justice Smith and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The complete series of "Drunk History" is now available in a handsomely bound 11-disc collection, which on your shelf looks like a leather-bound volume written by Voltaire or David Hume.

This DVD collection includes:

- All 72 episodes of one of Comedy Central's most popular series
- Including Seasons 5 and 6, which have never before been release on DVD
- Both of the series' Special Episodes--the "Christmas Special" and the "Election Special"
- Extended Drunk Narrator Moments
- Deleted scenes
- Drunk Outtakes
- Sober Reveals and more!

You don't have to mark your calendar, "Drunk History" is now available on DVD.