'Drunk History' review: Intoxicating
COMEDY SERIES "Drunk History"
WHEN | WHERE Tuesday at 10 on Comedy Central
WHETHER TO WATCH It's drunk, it's history, it's two shows in one!
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Comedians down alcohol shots, then retell the stories behind famed historical incidents. They slurrrr their worrrrds. They blinktoomuch. Sometimes they race to the toilet, breaking stuff along the way.
Then actors -- real actors -- re-enact their words. Not the incidents. The words. Lip-synching all the mispruciations, uh, mispronunciations, and hiccups, and digressions. (You never know when you'll want a cookie.)
Tonight's premiere features "completely drunk" storytellers Matt Gourley, Allan McLeod and Eric Edelstein relating 19th and 20th century tales, later visually produced at some expense with period costumes, elaborate sets and even "vintage" amber lighting.
MY SAY Burp! Much like alcohol itself, "Drunk History" can be an acquired taste. The first story, about '70s Watergate reporters Woodward and Bernstein, never really clicks between the teller and the re-enactors. But McLeod's meandering bit on the rivalry between the theatrical Booth brothers, one to become a presidential assassin, has an engagingly rubbery feel in its mime from "Parks and Recreation" regular Adam Scott (John Wilkes Booth) and Ricky Gervais co-conspirator Stephen Merchant (Abraham Lincoln).
It is, of course, tasteless, considering the subject matter, but, hey, "Drunk History" ain't for the reverent. Elvis devotees may not cotton to Jack Black's embodiment of their idol in the third tale, when a bloated Presley leaves his plastic-covered, gold-colored lair to seek a law enforcement badge from President Richard Nixon (Bob Odenkirk). "Real events," remember.
Creator Derek Waters, who launched the concept online (FunnyorDie.com), plays host to such other premiere players as Jack McBrayer, Will Forte, Dave Grohl and Fred Willard. (Making one wonder, can't ladies drink and tell, too?) Everyday people show up in brief announcements where anonymous inebriates offer opinions about the past ("the 16th best president in America").
BOTTOM LINE Just as people either drink or don't, you'll get it or you won't.