Drunk History, Funny or Die’s funniest web series, will be making the jump from the world wide web to a TV near you this summer. For those unfamiliar with the concept, Drunk History involves a real live person drinking too much alcohol then re-telling an episode from American history, such as Benjamin Franklin discovering electricity. The resulting drunken rambling is supplemented by dramatic recreations of the event using the exact slurred words of the narrator.
The thing that made Drunken History work so well online is the involvement of big-name actors. Funny or Die founder Will Ferrell has enlisted some top shelf actors to join him in the project, including Don Cheadle, Jack Black, and John C. Reilly. The seriousness with which these top stars reenact the muddled stories is what made Drunken History an internet phenomenon.
TV, even cable TV, has historically been reluctant to air anything that could be considered as glorifying alcoholic over-consumption. Comedy Central is getting ready to break that taboo this summer. You can’t do Drunken History and skirt around the fact that it is the “Drunk” that makes the “History” funny. And there’s no way around the fact that airing Drunken History on TV will bring out a whole hoard of unfunny copycats as college and high school kids get drunk and record their ramblings.
Unlike the online version, Drunk History the TV show is aiming for full 22-minute episodes based on each story. That’s a long time to drag out the stories compared to the relatively short 4-6 minute versions online. It remains to be seen whether or not the concept will hold up to a more drawn out extrapolation of the drunken narrator’s storytelling.
Comedy Central has reportedly placed an initial order for 8 episodes. The network may or may not request additional episodes depending on audience reaction to the first season. Audience reaction is going to depend on two factors — whether or not America is ready for a show in which famous actors portray historical events as told by a random intoxicated individual and how well that story is told. You can check out the online versions here.