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‘Slightly Altered’ Past: A Comedy Cocktail From Derek Waters

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
July 13, 2013

When Derek Waters went out with a buddy for a few beers one night, little did he know his friend’s drunken storytelling would turn into a years-long project, and now TV show on Comedy Central.

“Jake was telling me this story that Otis Redding knew he was going to die, and before he left that day he had this long conversation with his wife,” remembers Waters. “The whole time secretly I was just picturing Otis Redding looking at Jake and saying, ‘Shut up, man, that didn’t happen!’”

That gave Waters the idea for his popular weekly series, Drunk History (Warning: The videos contain language that some may find offensive). Give a narrator — usually one of Waters’ friends — a few drinks, and have him or her recount a favorite historical event. Then, have well known actors in period costumes lip-sync and act out the completely wrong history.

Waters has no problem getting people on board for the project, either. “As an actor, you have so much in your head when you’re thinking about delivering a line … so you actually get to do more because you don’t have to worry about how to deliver a line, because it’s already done.”

Sometimes, narrators forget the story line, make up ridiculous dialogue, or even vomit or fall asleep while describing Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, for example. But, says Waters, “They’re trying as hard as they can to make a history show; it just happens to be slightly altered.” [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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