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ATX Television Festival 2019: “Drunk History”

In 2013, a TV show called “Drunk History” premiered. It was based on a web series created by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner which began in 2007. Now, Waters is the host of this comedy phenomenon.

Drunk History
Derek Waters | Photo credit: Waytao Shing/ATX Television Festival

If you’re not familiar, “Drunk History” is a half-hour show in which Waters and a celebrity get drunk together, and the celebrity tells a story from world history. Most episodes contain multiple stories with multiple celebrities telling them. But, as an added bonus, there are even more actors and comedians acting out the stories as they’re told by the drunk person.

Waters has brought the show to ATX Television Festival for three years now. This year, the attendees got to see sneak peeks of the upcoming continuation of season six of the show. The first story told was that of “Lawn Chair Larry.” It was recounted by actor and comedian Doug Anthony Jones, with Colin Hanks playing the titular role in the reenactment. Both Jones and Hanks were in attendance at the festival.

The second story was about the “real queen of Egypt,” who evidently is not Cleopatra. That story was told by actress Lyric Lewis, who got to see her clips for the first time with the rest of the festival audience.

Last but not least, they showed a clip of actor Brian Tyree Henry telling the story of legendary singer Sam Cooke. Henry wasn’t in attendance at the festival, but that didn’t take away from the audience’s enjoyment of his storytelling.

The whole panel was having a great time watching the show, and the audience was filled with laughter too, as you might expect with a show like “Drunk History.”

And then there was the behind-the-scenes look during the Q&A. Hanks admits that he learned his ad-libbed walkie talkie noises from Shia LaBeouf, when they were in a performance of “Dr. Strangelove” together. He called LaBeouf’s choice “one of the fucking funniest things” ever, which helped him make the decision in his role on “Drunk History.”

Lyric Lewis and Colin Hanks | Photo credit: Waytao Shing/ATX Television Festival

Waters admitted during the Q&A that one of the main driving forces behind the series is that it’s “a lot of fun to watch people struggle with words.” But that doesn’t mean that they don’t put a lot of work into the show. Hanks called it a “fucking miracle” that the show even exists, but that it’s split between elaborate costumes, wigs and sets, and the point where the crew kind of says “eh, fuck it.” For example, Hanks plays Larry at the age of 13 briefly, but he couldn’t shave his beard, so they put a nametag on him that read “Hello, I’m 13.”

“Drunk History” also uses researchers to make sure that the stories are accurate. Waters says that he always wants to have two or three sources for each historical account they include in the series. After all, as he said, it’s not just a comedy show — it’s a fun way for people to learn history.

There was a surprise at the end of the Q&A, when Austin’s own burger joint P. Terry’s provided burgers and fries for any panelists and audience members who wanted it. The event would have been a treat either way, but those meals really raised the bar.

Drunk History
Employees provide free P. Terry’s meals | Photo credit: Jackie Ruth

Season six of “Drunk History” resumes on Tuesday, June 18, on Comedy Central.

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Featured image credit: Waytao Shing/ATX Television Festival

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