‘Drunk History’: After 12 Years, Creator Derek Waters Only Drinks When Getting Paid

Now in Season 6, and after 12 years of three-story episodes, Waters says he’s ready to take on the 22-minute history lesson.
Evan Rachel Wood as Mary Shelley in "Drunk History."
Evan Rachel Wood as Mary Shelley in "Drunk History."
Comedy Central

Derek Waters has spent over a decade making drunk history. “It was just like, how do we six seasons and not let it get old? I want it to evolve,” he said.

Originally created as a Funny or Die web series in 2007, “Drunk History” has thrived on Comedy Central, educating the masses through reenactments of obscure and not-so-obscure history, as narrated by intoxicated storytellers.

While the fame quotient of the drunkards tends to be impressive, it’s the folks doing the reenactments who make this Comedy Central’s most star-studded series: Season 6 includes Evan Rachel Wood, Elijah Wood, Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, Jack McBrayer, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Bilson, Amandla Stenberg, Alison Brie, Sugar Lyn Beard, and Josh Hartnett.

A not-insignificant part of that list is featured in the season premiere, which is framed around “Drunk History” mainstay Rich Fulcher telling Waters and guest star Kirby Howell-Baptiste the story of author Mary Shelley (Evan Rachel Wood) telling her friends the story that would become the classic horror tale “Frankenstein.” (In a nod to the obsessions of ’90s kids, the episode is subtitled “Are You Afraid of the Drunk?” and set around a campfire.)

Seth Rogen as Dr. Frankenstein in "Drunk History."
Seth Rogen as Dr. Frankenstein in “Drunk History.”Comedy Central

“I didn’t want to go too meta, but I thought it made sense,” Waters said. “It’s about a person who tells a story at a party.”

Ferrell returning to “Drunk History” for the third time, Waters said, was “so exciting. I mean he’s our producer — he’s helped me out so much. But I’m still nervous. It’s still Will Ferrell. You want to please him. He’s dressed as Frankenstein’s monster telling me about his life.”

Serving his cast isn’t Waters’ only priority, as he remains focused on continuing to evolve the show’s format.

Waters hopes to do more episodes that focus on one specific story, as opposed to the now-standard format of three stories an episode. “With the regular order of three stories per episode, you may shoot something in October and then the other one in December, and you’re like ‘oh, I forgot–‘ We can do more runner jokes, you know, little Easter eggs throughout the story.”

Waters still drinks while hanging out with the storytellers, but otherwise has cut back a great deal. “I take a break, to heal,” he said. “I only drink when I’m getting paid.”

In fact, if he felt he needed to stop drinking entirely, he’d find someone to sit in for him on camera, which does happen on Season 6. “Taran Killam is a guest host this year,” he said. “Having people sit in for me every once in a while helps me take a break and evolves the show a little more.”

However, his ambitions remain the same: “I always say it, but I don’t say it to be nice. I only want to do the show if it’s going to be better than the season before, and this season is the best.”

“Drunk History” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.

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