Drunk History is the brain child of Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner. Apparently inspired by drunk ramblings of New Girl star Jake Johnson during a night out. It originally was produced and air on the comedy website Funny Or Die. In 2013, the web show was brought to the television format on Comedy Central. It was produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Drunk History has now been running for two seasons, and I’m pretty sure a third is on the way. I watched a good handful of the web series (which I liked), but never got around to checking out the Comedy Central version. And with this uncensored DVD, I’m pretty glad I was able to just now dive into it for this review.
Here’s how Drunk History breaks down. Derek Waters invites a friend (namely a comedian or comedic actor) to get completely intoxicated and then sit before a camera and recount an event in American history. As the inebriated narrates the tale, its accompanied by a reenactment that tries to lip sync and play out the very rendition that’s being told. Everything from burps, to side comments to dogs barking is accounted for. I don’t know if my description has done it justice, but its pretty damn funny.
It may take a sketch or two, but once you understand what the show is doing and are on its wavelength, its really funny. One of the things I dug a lot about this show is its dedication to cheap effects. For instance when they show a battleship in the water, the full shot of the ship is pretty much the equivalent to a toy in a bathtub. Then there are the wigs and the like that are pretty silly, but add to the comedy of the show.
One thing that surprised the hell out of me were some of the people they got to guest star. I expected your Adam Scott, Matt Walsh, Aubrey Plaza, Casey Wilson and Jack Black types to show up. But, jaw to the floor when someone like John Lithgow shows up in not one but two episodes! Equally surprising were Winona Ryder, Courtney Cox, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson and Laura Dern. It adds a lot to it to see some of these performers reciting drunk ramblings and dialogue.
The narrators get pretty hammered. I mean, this is more like Blackout History than it is Drunk History. These folks drink A LOT. They will be falling over their chairs and slurring their words. Some need to take breaks to drink water or walk around before they can get through it. And some even will have to puke and rally to get through the story. Which usually only amounts to a seven to eight minute story.
Each episode takes the format of going to a city and telling the history of something relative to the place. Derek Waters also goes out to bars and talks to drunk people about why they love living there. Some episodes go for a theme instead, like Hollywood and Sports Heroes. Those stories help to get away from the Colonial era ones that seem to happen more often.
There was a lot of fun to be had with Drunk History. While I had to marathon it, I think its one that’s probably a little better once a week or watching a couple episodes at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a lot of fun with the show, I just think its strength and novelty works best when there are breaks taken in between viewing sessions.
New York City, NY
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 (Some of the reenactments are around 2.35:1)
Clarity/Detail: This is about as pristine as a modern television program can be on a DVD. Its a bit soft, but there is some nice detail present, the image is impressively sharp for a DVD and its rather clear.
Depth: A solid interpretation. Some background stuff is still blurrier than would be on a HD feed, but still shots look pretty impressive.
Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep here. Some detail is lost in dark scenes as well as black surfaces and fabrics. Overall though, its a nice compliment to the image’s sharpness.
Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty bold and tend to pop when applicable. Whites and grays actually look rather impressive.
Flesh Tones: During the interview and modern segments, skin tones look natural and are consistent. In the reenactments things tend to be a little cooler and washed out. Detail is stronger in close ups and decent in medium shots on facial features.
Noise/Artifacts: Nothing of note aside from regular DVD picture quality concerns.
Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH
Dynamics: This is primarily driven by vocals and score, but the sounds of dogs barking, ice clinking around in a glass and belches come across pretty nice, loose and lifelike. The score is lavishly filled in this track and is sort of a character of its own.
Low Frequency Extension: Limited to enhancing the score and sometimes if something knocks over there will be a little enhancement.
Surround Sound Presentation: Primarily extra scoring. There’s no real ambiance to speak of as the interviews are recorded in clean areas.
Dialogue Reproduction: For a compressed track, the dialogue is nice, loud and clean. About as good as you could get. This is the most important aspect of the audio track, and they succeed quite nicely.
Drunk History: Seasons 1 &2 comes in a soft cardboard case shaped like a book.
Season 1 – Disc 1
Drunk Outtakes: Chris Romano (SD, 7:11)
Sober Reveal: Jen Kirkman (SD, 13:26) – Jen sits with Derek Waters to watch her segment from the “Boston” episode sober. Sort of works as a video commentary on the segment.
Season 2 – Disc 1
The extras feature a list of outtakes and deleted scenes from each episode.
Montgomery, AL (SD, 9:16)
- Allan McLeod: Drunk Outtakes
- Ben “Stay Tuned”
- Deleted Scene
- Morgan Murphy “And, Uh…”
- Morgan Murphy: Ball Boxer
New York (SD, 10:58)
- A Tour Of NYC With Gavin McInnes
- JD Ryznar: Bath Time
- JD Ryznar: Drunk History Spokesman
- Fancy Ray
- Deleted Scenes
American Music (SD, 7:04)
- Ben Folds
- Colton Dunn: “Beatboxer”
- David Wain “Webby Award”
- David Wain “Emmy Award”
- David Wain “Guitar Smash”
- Eric Edelstein: Advice From Johnny Cash
- Deleted Scenes: Alan Freed
- Deleted Scenes: Kristofferson
Baltimore (SD, 28:10)
- Dinner With The Waters’
- Justin Waters: Was Poe Poisoned?
- Duncan Trussell: Drunk Outtakes
- Duncan Trussell: “Your Dad Is Not Your Dad”
- Deleted Scenes
- Sober Reveal: Duncan Trussell
Charleston (SD, 7:50)
- Seth Weitberg: A History Of Violence
- Extended Goat
- Mark Gagliardi: Ups And Downs Of Jager-Bombs
- Deal With It.
Season 2 – Disc 2
Hollywood (SD, 15:15)
- Steve Berg “Rosebud”
- Derek Miller “Royal Scotch”
- Drew Droege “Diffrent Strokes”
- Deleted Scenes
- Sober Reveal: Steve Berg
Hawaii (SD, 27:36)
- Aloha Spirit
- Extended Scenes
- Jonah Ray: Neil Mahoney
- Jonah Ray: Pidgeon
- Sober Reveal: Phil Hendrie
Philadelphia (SD, 9:36)
- Chip Coffey: Searching For Benedict
- Nick Rutherford: Even Or Odd
- Nick Rutherford: “There’s A Sword?”
- Deleted Scenes
Sports Heroes (SD, 10:02)
- Preston Flagg: “What Time Is It?”
- Matt Jones: Drunk Outtakes
- Terrell Suggs: Extended Cut
- Preston Flagg: Backyard Decathlon
- Deleted Scenes
First Ladies (SD, 10:24)
- Jen Kirkman: Drunk Outtakes
- Molly McAleer: Molly Loves Mustard
- Edith Wilson: Deleted Scenes
Paramount brings Drunk History’s first two seasons to DVD with a very nice package. Surprisingly no digital copies were included, but it does have nice array of extras with over 2 hours of outtakes. The presentation is about as good as you’re going to get for a DVD. This show is pretty funny and if you’re a fan, this is an easy recommend. There’s enough here to show that Paramount did really care about putting something nice together, even if they didn’t put it on Blu-ray.