During the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, a line of fans snaked down Sixth Street to get into the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz for a Friday afternoon panel on Drunk History’s history. Inside, the audience was treated to stories about the show’s beginnings, hilarity from series creator Derek Waters and future and past narrators Duncan Trussell and Dan Harmon, and a sneak peek at what viewers can expect in season three. If you couldn’t be there, you missed Drunk History’s parody of the Friday Night Lights opening credits made solely for the festival, but here’s a few of the things Waters revealed about the show, along with some teases of season three.
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Drunk History was born out of a drunken story that New Girl actor Jake Johnson told series creator Derek Waters about Otis Redding. Waters explained, “The whole time I just pictured Otis Redding looking at me, going, ‘That never happened.’” Figuring that everyone gets drunk and tells stories about music, Waters looked for a subject people don’t talk about while drunk that he could easily call bullshit on. History was a natural fit. “Alcohol gives a false confidence, but a bump to passion. And I liked mixing passion and the complications of communicating it,” Waters explained.
When Waters pitched the show around, some executives seemed to miss the point of its hook. One note had actually been, “This is great. Do the narrators have to be drunk?”
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For the first time, Dan Harmon will narrate an episode in season three. He has an unconventional Drunk History topic in Griselda Blanco, godmother of the Medellin cocaine cartel in 1980s Miami. Harmon will explain the story behind Blanco’s nickname, The Black Widow. Related: Blanco apparently invented the motorcycle drive-by. Waters showed an early cut of Harmon’s story, and it was the first time even Harmon had seen it.
Waters claims Harmon’s episode is the drunkest he personally has ever been on Drunk History. Harmon repeatedly told him “Don’t match me [drink for drink],” continually concerned for Waters’ well-being trying to keep up with Harmon’s famously high tolerance.
Gaius Charles (Smash Williams himself!) will appear this season as “a boxer who refused to go to Vietnam.” Golly, wonder who that is?
After Duncan Trussell’s Nicola Tesla shoot in which he got wasted on absinthe, the show started keeping a nurse on staff for every shoot.
Dan Harmon rejected the first-ever episode of Drunk History for his old live video show Channel 101. You might remember Channel 101 as the monthly comedy film festival / contest that gave the world Yacht Rock, House of Cosbys and Lonely Island’s The ‘Bu.
Trussell offered that the most difficult part of narrating is “when your mouth stops working,” further explaining that absinthe means “your mind is clear but your body can’t function.” Both Harmon and Trussell offered that researching their stories made them invested in and passionate about their subjects. But of course, the whole point of the show is to throw them off and frustrate them as well. As Trussell explained, “You have this passionate story that you realize needs to be told and it’s getting ruined by the booze.”
The question Waters gets asked most is, “Are the narrators really drunk?” In his words, “Nobody could write what these people say.”
Erica Lies is a writer and comedian in Austin, Texas. Her work has appeared in Splitsider, Bitch, Rookie Mag, and The Hairpin.