In August, Comedy Central announced it has rescinded a Season 7 order for Drunk History. But the show’s co-creator and host, Derek Waters, still isn’t sure what happened, why, or what comes next, especially when it comes to fans ever seeing the portion of season 7 that was already shot.
Waters created the show with Jeremy Konner, who also serves as an executive producer. The premise, for the uninitiated, is fairly straightforward. Celebrity guests attempt to tell a historical story while they are drunk. Other guest stars then act out this inebriated re-telling in hilariously shot “historical” footage. It’s basically the most fun history class you’ve ever attended.
But in August, the show was canceled even though they had already partially completed production on season 7. Waters told Variety’s Awards HQ he doesn’t have an “actual answer why it happened … no one’s called me. I have no idea. I have no verification of it.”
“It sounds a little dramatic, but it’s like a funeral without any music,” Waters said. “I would love to finish what I started. It would just be nice to end on your own terms, to say goodbye and not just be like, ‘that’s it.’”
Season 7 of Drunk History was intended to have 16 episodes. The portions where the guest of the week gets drunk and narrates a historical event or story have already been shot for all 16 of those episodes. But the second part, the re-enactment, was not completed before production was shut down due to COVID-19. So somewhere out there are half-finished episodes of Drunk History but Waters doesn’t know if we’ll ever see them. Which is a shame for many reasons included that the line-up sounds amazing.
Some of the half-finished episodes include:
- Stories about Bruce Lee
- The Harlem Hellfighters, a celebrated African American WWI regiment
- Thelma Todd, a 1930s actress
- Lewis Hayden, James Armistead Lafayette, and other 1800s abolitionists and Black leaders
- The battle to build the largest ball of twine, narrated by Patton Oswalt
- Glenn Burke, baseball’s first openly gay player, narrated by SNL writer Sam Jay
There is one other episode that Waters feels could also serve as a finale for Drunk History. In a “Teacher Appreciation” episode, the show’s narrators talked about their favorite high school teachers and Waters brought on his teacher. The two got drunk together and recalled Alexander Hamilton and the Whiskey Rebellion.
“It was the most emotional, best night of my life,” Waters said. “Being able to be friends with your history teacher is already cool, but then to get drunk and put them on a TV show! We were wearing suits and we jumped in a pool, and laughed and cried. I had my old binders from high school. And I asked him to re-grade them, and he was reading his old notes on that. ‘I’m like, that can’t go to waste!’
“How great would that be right now, to give love to the most unappreciated, important job in society?” he continued. “What other comedy show is doing that? We were telling stories, diverse stories and we were telling stories of unsung heroes that don’t get in the books. So I’m very disappointed and sad to see what I know of it now being over.”
Waters is exploring how to show the content that’s already been shot, such as putting it up on YouTube. “I don’t think anything’s ever over. I have hope. … We’ll see. There’s a lot of legal stuff that you’ve got to figure out. What I really hope for is just to finish what we started.”
At the same time, Waters is currently campaigning for the Emmy-nominated sixth season, which is up for variety sketch series comedy, costumes for a variety, nonfiction or reality program, and production design for a variety, reality or competition series. Overall, Drunk History has racked up 17 nominations in its run, and one win in 2015 for variety program or special costumes.
“It’s definitely bittersweet, but I will say, anytime we’ve been nominated, it’s been great,” he said. “Being recognized by the actual Academy for this show that I was making with my friends in the backyard. I just appreciate it so much that they saw what we were doing, that we were making a history show with a comedic premise. And the show’s only good because of the people I was lucky enough to surround myself by. Sincerely, it’s the strongest crew and just the nicest group of people that you’ll ever meet. I know everyone says that about their own show, but it felt nice, felt like family.”
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