Drunk History creators Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner recently spoke to The A.V. Club about their show’s first season. Following part one’s coverage of episodes one through four, this installment covers the second half of the season: “San Francisco,” “Detroit,” “Nashville,” and “Wild West.”
“San Francisco” (August 6, 2013)
The A.V. Club: At the beginning of the San Francisco episode, you’re at a party talking to this guy, and he just drops his pants and shows you he’s wearing garters. How did that happen?
Derek Waters: He told me he’s a heterosexual queer, but we could not put that in there. I’d never heard that phrase and I said, “What does that mean?” And he said, “Well, it’s all under the pants” and then he just takes his pants off and has women’s lingerie on. We did not plan that.
Jeremy Konner: Not at all.
AVC: In the first half of this walkthrough, you talked about how having Jen Kirkman tell the story of Mary Dyer made it a stronger and more resonant story. The same holds true for this episode’s Mary Ellen Pleasant story, which stars Lisa Bonet.
JK: That was amazing.
DW: So beautiful.
JK: I’ve loved that story for many years. I’d known about it and it’s unfortunate that it’s one of those stories that the more research you do, the more complicated and confusing it gets; instead of illuminating things, it obfuscates. Everything gets cloudy because even her autobiography—her multiple autobiographies—are completely contradictory, let alone all of these other accounts of her. For the most part, what we kept in was stuff that was completely verified, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s questionable, like her giant mansion. People say that was a brothel. They say she was getting her money from blackmail. There are a lot of things that people don’t know if they’re the truth or not. It’s a complicated story and very difficult to crack, but we kept it simple. That one was about simplifying it and boiling it down to the basics and Lisa Bonet being awesome.
DW: She hadn’t acted in 10 years. We just went after her and, luckily, her agent liked it and sent it to her. We’d never met her, and then when she came to set, she said, “I haven’t acted in 10 years, but this is something that really made me want to do it.” It was such an honor and she did such a great job.
AVC: The next segment is Derrick Beckles talking about Mark Twain.
JK: Very sober.
DW: He’s the best. And his new show—Hot Package, coming on Adult Swim—is going to be the best show on TV. It’s going to be so funny.
Derrick, I’d been friends with for a while. A lot of these people we know, but there’s also a thing about being funny mixed with when they drink. With Derrick, when he drinks he gets a little feminine and it’s really funny. There’s not a lot of it in our story, but he’s very eccentric when he drinks. He knew a lot about Mark Twain, but we refreshed him with this leaping-frog story.
JK: When my mom watched that episode, she said, “I loved it. I couldn’t understand that one man, though.” She loved Beckles. She just couldn’t understand the words. Who cares about the words, Mom?
AVC: He was definitely yelling.
JK: He was definitely yelling. That’s one of the struggles you have when you’re dealing with people that have been drinking. He was a yeller.
AVC: Are your sound people burning out their ears?
JK: It wakes up our sound guy. It’s 4 in the morning and he’s, like, passed out basically.
DW: That episode, that narration, I know we were there until 4. That was so late. I was so tired, so that was a tough one. But he did such a great job.
One cool thing about the Mark Twain segment is that we try in every story to find a tone and comparative elements. Like for the arsonist in Boston, not to backtrack, but that has a very Boogie Nights/Goodfellas vibe and we tried to have Mark Twain have sort of that There Will Be Blood tone with the color of it and the music. We’re trying as hard as we can.
JK: We, basically, made There Will Be Blood.
DW: There Will Be Leaping Frogs.
JK: I will be expecting an Oscar for our short.
AVC: And Daniel Day-Lewis saying, “I would love to be on Drunk History.”
DW: Yeah, that would be cool.
JK: Yeah, if Daniel Day-Lewis wants to do this, we’ll be okay with that.
AVC: Who writes your music?
DW: Dan Gross. Jeremy had worked with him, and it was my first time working with him. He deserves anything you can get the guy because he had very little time. No one who worked on our show had ever done this before including Jeremy and I in the TV version, but he had so little time to do the music. Jeremy and I are nice guys, but extremely specific about hitting certain tones and vibes and he did a really wonderful job.
JK: It’s true. He’s working out of his studio apartment in Echo Park. He has a room that he shares with his wife, who’s sitting there, and we’re all there just working together. It was totally hectic and crazy. It was the perfect sort of situation for Drunk History,and he was just so creative.
DW: You got to be hungry to want to be a part of this show. If you’re already full, you’re not going to want to do this show.
I think what Jeremy was just saying is why our show can still have that same tone where it really is last-minute shit like, “Oh, we’ve to throw this together. Go, go, go!” Naturally, it’s going to feel like a homemade version of the History Channel.
JK: But, unlike the History Channel, our inspirations are There Will Be Blood and Goodfellas and Boogie Nights. When you talk to the different departments and the composers, they’re like, “This is the coolest thing! I’m making 24 short films and every single one of them is a completely different genre of music.” So it’s a lot of fun for all the people involved, I think.
AVC: Moving on: Patty Hearst and Kristen Wiig.
DW: The great story about this is that originally, at the very end of the short where Kristen Wiig moves her lips to Natasha saying, “Now I know what it’s like to feel like…” we reached out to the real Patty Hearst because we wanted to have her say that last line at the end. And she was very sweet and politely passed, but she said she liked it and liked that we were doing a story about her.
I think she was smart to say no. If you’ve never heard of Drunk History or seen it, and then get offered to be a part of it where people are drunk and yelling about history and the history is about you, I’d definitely hesitate as well.
AVC: But Kristen Wiig is great and Natasha Leggero is super-fabulous. And Terry Crews is great.
DW: Terry Crews was amazing and the sweetest, sweetest man who is the hugest, hugest man.
AVC: In an interview, your costume designer said the Patty Hearst beret was just something she had in her closet. Is that something that often happens?
JK: Yeah, a lot of the stuff that ends up in the show is not really from professional rentals.
AVC: They’re not ’60s accurate?
DW: We stray from professional. Homemade or the best that they can look is what we usually strive for.
“Detroit” (August 13, 2013)
AVC: Speaking of homemade, the Kellogg brothers’ wigs in the Detroit episode.
JK: Not the house, though.
DW: That house is the same one as Mary Ellen Pleasant’s. We brought it back.
JK: It’s the upstairs and the downstairs for the most part.
DW: And Paget Brewster, who narrated that story, she came to us with that story. She knew it very well and told it so well.
AVC: How did you pick Owen and Luke Wilson to play the Kellogg brothers?
DW: We had so many ideas about who would be the best brothers. I’d known Owen for a while and I never thought he’d do it, and neither one of us had ever met Luke. I just reached out to him and he said, “Of course.” He was really, really, cool.
AVC: Were you trying to get actual brothers?
DW: All our choices were either brothers or partners that would match together.
AVC: And, Derek, you got to wear Paget’s dress.
JK: Her grandmother’s dress.
DW: That’s what I’d wanted to do the whole season. Just to wear a dress. That’s the one episode I’m definitely drunk in.
JK: Derek was drunk.
DW: So drunk, I wore a dress.
JK: I was really pushing for that dress, but you were not. I was like, “Why don’t you put on the dress?” and you’re like, “No, I’m good.” And I was like, “This is a good idea. You should do it.” And you were like, “No, please. I don’t think we need that.” And I was like, “We definitely need this.”
DW: I think I said yes to the dress in her room, but when we went in to do the interview, I was like, “There’s no way you’re getting a cutaway shot of me sitting in a dress trying to be funny.” But what it ended up being was that it didn’t look like I was trying to be funny, it looked like I was trying to be serious in a dress.
JK: You weren’t trying to be funny. You were trying to run away for the most part. I was very happy.
AVC: The shot of Luke Wilson working in a broom company is also very funny. It’s just him and a bunch of brooms.
DW: Can you tell the Wilsons are right next to each other or that it’s just a board in between them?
AVC: Absolutely not.
JK: In retrospect, there was no reason that we made them practical split screens where we’re actually shooting them in the exact same space.
DW: Next season, there should be something that overlaps that makes it so clear that they’re right next to each other.
JK: Everybody is so good at their job. We were like, “Hey, it’s funny and they’re in the same place!” But in a million years, you’d never be able to tell.
DW: That’s why in the MLK outtakes, we have him to talking to his buddy about meeting J. Edgar Hoover and there’s a version where he handed him a Coke so it would look like he went through the screen and handed him a Coke. I think we did one where Luke just walked across and hugged Owen, but we didn’t keep that.
Working with those guys, it was cool to watch them work off of each other, to see two brothers and how they work together. Owen would give Luke shit where he’s like, [Does Owen’s voice.] “Come on, Luke. I want you to just try one where you’re a little more angry. Can we have one of those?”
JK: It was also amazing to watch their dynamic change as their characters changed, because you could definitely tell there was a difference when Luke’s character became really famous and was shitting on Owen’s character. You could tell Luke was like, “Yeah!” We shot it all chronologically, but you got to see how Owen was super mean to Luke in the beginning, and then Luke got to be super mean back.
AVC: What was up with all the people doing choreographed exercises in the background?
DW: That was a reference to The Road To Wellville.
JK: It was a reference to some real exercises they would do. Once we got all the extras in diapers, one of the producers came up to us and said, “You know everyone has to get paid a lot more now since you put them in diapers?”
AVC: Because they were shirtless or because of the diapers?
DW: They’re showing more of their bodies, I guess.
JK: When you’re embarrassing people, it costs more, I guess.
AVC: The next segment is Jason Schwartzman as Ralph Nader.
JK: We got so lucky with that one. I was so nervous about that one just because it was so modern and it’s not this story of a president being shot. I wanted this to be really incredible, and I wanted it to have this same feeling. I think we pulled it off, but it was really a tough one.
DW: I know what you’re saying, but it naturally had all the credentials of what we look for in the show. It was a story that you’ve heard about him and a lot of people do know that story, but I’m going to say, overall, I’d say 65 percent of people that know who Ralph Nader is just think he’s the guy who ruined the election for Al Gore and it’s like, “How come more people don’t know about this?” I think that’s why it works, because it’s not just a modern story about a man. It’s like, “I know about him, but I never knew about that.”
AVC: Most people don’t know about the “salacious, Barbara Eden types.”
DW: You knew about him, but you didn’t know that they hired girls to flirt with him at the supermarket. That’s still insane to me that that’s true.
JK: They apologized to him and had to pay him half a million dollars. It’s a great story. I think a lot of our stories are underdog stories. I remember saying to you, Derek, when we were first looking at stories that I was realizing that our sort of criteria was, “Is this a story that Steven Spielberg would even be interested in at all? Or Hollywood, would they be interested at all?” Is there a beginning, middle, and end, and is it about someone overcoming incredible odds? Is it about some huge change, some kind of revolution? And I think we always tried our damn hardest to keep that kind of criteria.
DW: My reaction was like, “Well, let’s make it about how important it is that besides having seatbelts, we didn’t even have fucking cars.” We tried to do a version of what towns were like, like what Detroit was like before cars, that there were cows shitting and people dying because there was so much shit on the streets. It went too far back, but just trying to highlight the importance of each story was what we strive to do.
JK: Nader took on the largest car company on Earth, and he won. And he went on to create a million things that we take for granted these days like OSHA and the EPA. He’s the reason why we have labels on bottles and things like that.
DW: He’s a nerd warrior.
AVC: The final segment in this episode is about Harry Houdini’s battle with spiritualism.
DW: Lucius [Dillion], our narrator, was a Houdini fanatic. He loves Houdini and already knew this story. We wanted to do a Houdini thing, but we didn’t know what it would be about. We talked to Lucius and he was like, “I really like the fight between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and spiritualism” and I don’t know if you knew about that, Jeremy, but I had never heard about that.
JK: The first time I’d heard about that was the first time we talked on the phone with Lucius.
DW: All credit goes to the editor of “Detroit,” whose name is Neal Mahoney. You’ll never know, but we never thought we’d be able to use that narration because for most of it, Lucius is on an oxygen tank because he got so drunk. Anyone who gets drunk, our medic gives them oxygen and it really does make you feel better, but to the naked eye, it looked like something was wrong with the narrator because he’s on an oxygen tank. So we never wanted to reveal that, but yeah, Lucius was so passionate about it.
We shot that segment where Houdini actually performed for 10 years when he was in Los Angeles. It’s called The Palace Theatre.
Call me crazy, but even before the Houdini, throughout the whole show, I was thinking of an idea I wanted to do to try to get publicity. Remember in Three Men And A Baby when, after it came out, they revealed that there was a ghost in that movie? Remember that?
AVC: Unfortunately, no.
DW: Well, there’s a scene with the little kid behind the window staring at you and they made up the whole story that a kid had jumped out of a window years ago and you could see him for a second, and it was great publicity for the movie. I wanted to do something for the show where you’d see something in the background where it’s like, “Oh, maybe it’s a ghost,” but we could never figure out where to do that without it trying to look contrived.
When we were shooting the Houdini death scene, Blake, our DP, was like, “Do you guys mind that there’s this weird reflection behind Ken Marino?” And I was like, “No, I can tell people that was a ghost orb or something.” Then people were like, “What are you talking about?” And I told them what I wanted to do and they were like, “You know this place is already haunted, right?” And I was like, “Well, maybe something naturally will happen” and as soon as I said that, during the take there was this picture that wasn’t around anyone and it fell and knocked down a light. It was the craziest thing.
AVC: That’s a fortunate coincidence.
JK: Or was it a coincidence?
“Nashville” (August 20, 2013)
AVC: Seth Weitberg, who works on your show, narrates the Dolly Parton story in this, correct?
DW: He’s a co-producer and researcher for the show.
We needed one more Nashville story and we found this Dolly Parton story and Seth, naturally, loves, loves, loves Dolly Parton. But none of us knew this story. Everyone knows that song but nobody knows the story.
AVC: If you really know about Dolly Parton, you know this story, but most people don’t know the name Porter Wagoner.
DW: It was in that same world where it was a topic of more recent history, and it’s like, “Okay, you know that song, but did you know this?” It’s a beautiful story and Seth drank a bottle of some kind of bourbon. And we were allowed to have him to sing “I Will Always Love You” somehow.
AVC: Maybe because it doesn’t sound anything like the actual song.
JK: It sounded so not like the actual song that the lawyers were like, “Yeah, you don’t have to clear this.” There’s not one note that’s correct, and even the lyrics are hard to understand. It was like, “This is not a performance of this song.”
AVC: And then he doesn’t even remember doing it.
DW: He was like, “Did I sing?” That happens all the time. “Did I do something?” that they definitely did. I think there’s something in the brain when you have alcohol where you know you did something, but you’re trying to mess with people. I don’t know for sure, but that happens all the time where they’re talking about something that we know that they did.
JK: Seth sang that song maybe 30 times that night including all the way back to the hotel when we were in Nashville. We were in the car and he kept singing it. And we got back to the hotel, and he was like, “Man, I just wish I had sung, guys. I never sang.” You did; you did so many times.
DW: “Did I sing?” There was a whole bit that literally went on for half an hour. I would play along and go, “Man, Seth, you did so good. I just wish you would have sung.” And he’s like, “What? I didn’t sing? Aw, man.”
JK: I have footage. We kept rolling all the way back to the parking lot of the hotel at 3 in the morning and he’s going, “I still didn’t sing. Just let me sing, just please, guys. Let me sing!” I was like, “Go for it, man!”
AVC: Up next, the Scopes Monkey Trial, where you used Jack McBrayer again.
JK: So good.
DW: Jack McBrayer is a returning member and then we had brand new Bradley Whitford. It was a dream come true to work with that guy.
AVC: Why is that? The West Wing?
DW: Yeah, The West Wing, Scent Of A Woman, Adventures In Babysitting. Really, his whole life.
JK: It was interesting that he played the southerner and Jack plays the northerner.
DW: I remember we were possibly going to switch that, but I’m glad we didn’t.
JK: I think it’s great. I liked that it’s switched up, because it’s not like you can hear their accents anyway. It doesn’t really matter.
When we first talked to BJ, the researcher, he was like, “This guy was in Inherit The Wind. I remember that play so well. I remember the Scopes Monkey trial.” And we were like, “This is great.” Then we went to meet him, and in the meantime, he had done research, as he should have. The second we sat down he was like, “It’s all bullshit.” We were like, “Whoa, what’s wrong? What are you talking about?” And he was like, “Yeah, none of it’s true.” We were like, “What do you mean? It’s a real thing that happened.” And he was like, “Yeah, but Inherit The Wind is bullshit. It was all a metaphor for McCarthyism. It was completely contrived for the sake of theater, and the reality was that it was this tourism thing that this little town did.” We kept all that in there, and that’s sort of how that story starts. It does polarize the nation so that part is true, but the reason why it happened isn’t. Derek is playing John Scopes, but John Scopes was not like Darren from Bewitched in Inherit The Wind. He wasn’t going, “Okay, everyone they were monkeys and now they’re humans.” He didn’t really teach evolution at all. That is not what he did.
AVC: The reality isn’t quite as noble as the story.
JK: Yeah, it’s not the same. But I’m so proud of him. It was like, “Great, we’re going to totally do Inherit The Wind and talk about the teacher that’s just trying to do right and the government won’t let him.” And that’s not at all what the story is. It’s about two guys approaching them and wanting to do this for tourism and the two lawyers involved and how the case ended up killing one of them.
AVC: Lewis and Clark is next.
DW: There’s some article that a woman wrote about the way we spelled things wrong and how disrespectful it was to Native Americans. I don’t see that at all, and I don’t know how you’d watch our show thinking, “Oh, where should I be offended?”
JK: We were actually trying to cast a lot more Native Americans for that and casting came back and said, “We can’t find true Native Americans to be in it.” We do have some, though.
I don’t even know what are they offended by. I dare anyone to show me any History Channel or National Geographic biopic about Lewis and Clark that is more truthful and more human than this one. I find most of them way more offensive. We’re acknowledging that this isn’t 100 percent accurate, too. We’re just trying to get you the gist of everything and show you the parts that we find interesting and funny and ironic.
DW: It’s a comedy show.
JK: I find it actually kind of offensive in the real documentary reenactments about stories where they actually are trying to tell you, “No, this is exactly how it happened. It’s 100 percent true.” I find that much more offensive. We’re not claiming this is true 100 percent true.
DW: Anyway, both Jeremy and I are Native American, and we’re all right.
AVC: Fair enough. What did you think about the mysterious death of Meriwether Lewis?
DW: I just saw a documentary about Lewis and Clark, and one thing I found really interesting was that there were real historians who never questioned whether Meriwether Lewis was murdered, or they were all, “It was really sad that he killed himself.” There was no question about it.
AVC: It does seem weird, though, the two shots.
DW: It actually turned out to be three.
JK: This is true. We went out to the grinder house where he killed himself or was killed and if there was a third gunshot, it went through his side. I have a theory—which I brought up to the people at the house, and they were like, “I guess that could be true”—that is that he accidentally shot himself in the side. He shot himself then he was on the ground dying for 24 hours then he finally died. I was thinking that he accidentally shot himself in the side and was writhing around on his side for a day and then just couldn’t take it anymore and then he killed himself. So that’s my theory.
DW: Either way, I think he’s dead.
JK: That’s a pretty outlandish claim there.
DW: I don’t think he’s still alive.
With Alie [Ward] and Georgia [Hardstark], obviously, that was the only time besides the art heist that we had two narrators. It was hard to edit, but Taran Killam and Tony Hale did great portraying these two male characters with female personas. I think that story has more jokes than 90 percent of our show because their portrayals are so good.
JK: It’s so awesome because Alie and Georgia are comedy partners and they have a rapport together, so it’s not just a story. It’s a story of the two great American explorers together and it’s another partnership. I think it’s a perfect story to have the dual narrators, and it works on a lot of different levels.
AVC: Oftentimes on Twitter, people say that they want to be narrator or, “How do you pick your narrators?” Obviously, except for the couple in Boston, a lot of them are comedians.
DW: They’re just people that we like and have a specific voice literally, comedically, and figuratively, and who are passionate. There are a lot of funny people, but it’s very, very hard to know how to tell a beginning, middle, and end to a story, which is what it all boils down to. Anyone can be funny away from a camera, but to be funny on camera is really hard. The best people are the ones we’re closest to and feel safest with and who can be themselves.
“Wild West” (August 27, 2013)
AVC: This episode kicks off with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders.
JK: Mark Gagliardi.
DW: He loves the floor. He loves Teddy Roosevelt, but when he learned more and did more research, he said that he became his favorite president of all time.
JK: It really became an obsession for him.
DW: There were so many different stories we could have done, and I’d still like to do another because there are so many Teddy Roosevelt stories.
JK: We could do three feature films on Teddy Roosevelt.
AVC: It’s surprising that there hasn’t been one already.
JK: It never ends. There was so much that we shot that we were excited about that we couldn’t put in.
DW: Tell her about the opening with the kid that we shot.
JK: We shot a whole Rocky-style montage.
DW: You know at the end of the final version when he was 11-years-old he said, “if I’m going to be anything, I’m going to be a badass?” At the end, we had intended to put this montage of all that stuff that he went through, working out, doing jumping jacks. He was working to be a badass, and there was so much in that story that we couldn’t keep in. But yeah, he was set to fail and he overcame what he was given.
One thing I wish we’d kept in was that, if he was alive today, he’d call TMZ before he would go certain places. He loved letting people know what he was doing. There was a version where we had Edison because Edison came to film him, remember, Derek?
JK: Two seconds after Edison makes the first film camera, Teddy Roosevelt has commissioned him to follow him around to make the first movies ever. It’s incredible. He’s a branding genius; he created a legend, he created his own sort of mythic status. It’s very interesting.
AVC: Speaking of mythic status, we’ll move on to Billy The Kid. Did he really do all the stuff people say about him? A lot of outlaws didn’t.
JK: A lot of people don’t know that there are a lot of different feelings toward him. He was an outlaw, he was killing people, and people don’t know quite how many people he killed. I think with our Wild West episode, in all three of the shorts, we decided to take a little more of an approach of classic American patriotism, because it was such an American episode. I think those stories have a lot of different angles and we stuck with a lot of the more classic versions of the stories. Instead of all those sort of, “Well, some people say…”
AVC: You went for the history-textbook version instead of the Howard Zinn version.
JK: There are times where the narrator will say a line that will cut down a story a little bit and say, “But we’re not really sure about this,” or “We’re not sure why this war isn’t really great,” but Teddy Roosevelt says, “I need to go to war to feel like a man,” and that’s his reason. Sure, we’re in a very patriotic story, but let’s be clear, his motivation…
DW: Was to be a badass.
DW: One thing that we have the ability to do in Drunk History is stuff like when Preston is making the noise of a gun—”pew, pew, pew”—and then those guys are dying the most massive deaths ever to guns that make that sound. That’s something we want to keep doing. And the horse in Billy The Kid, that’s what we really want to keep Drunk History like. Of course, Drunk History can’t have a real horse so we had a stuffed horse.
AVC: Did you ever consider using a real horse?
DW: I just think it’s funnier with a stuffed horse. We did look at a taxidermy horse, but it was too disgusting.
JK: We were able to get one horse for one day, and you see it when Teddy Roosevelt is riding it. Unfortunately for the Rough Riders, we were not able to give them horses, so thank God when they actually got to Cuba that they didn’t actually take their horses because we didn’t have horses. We could never have gotten the Rough Riders on horses.
DW: But all credit to Andy Daly, he’d never ridden a horse before and he did a great job.
JK: He played Teddy Roosevelt.
DW: There’s a little hidden Where’s Waldo? where the Billy The Kid horse is hidden in the Teddy Roosevelt story. He’s behind me as one of our horses in the background. I always hope and pray that the audience will, on the third time watching, find that.
Real quick, I’ll say Preston is one of my favorite narrators. If we get a season two, we should use him again. He’s so likable. We didn’t have anyone that isn’t likable but with him being so young and so drunk, we never had that feeling where we’re like, “Is he okay, should he be drinking this much?” He’s so drunk and could not stop smiling and you feel like you’re with him. He was so good; so, so good.
AVC: And then he pees outside.
DW: And he pees outside. It’s his own place, so he was allowed to pee.
Nick Monsour, the editor, deserves so much credit for all the things he’s edited, but all the stories in “Wild West” were so well cut by him. He did such a good job.
I know we want to finish up with Alamo, but the Wild West episode is the closest to what Jeremy and I originally pitched and what our pilot presentation was. That’s where you see me trying to learn the subject of the Wild West. You see me trying to shoot guns, me being around the “real cowboys.” It was really fun shooting guns, and I’m glad I don’t know how to shoot guns.
AVC: Or spin guns.
DW: Yeah, I kept dropping that gun. That lady, Pistol-Packing Paula, she was on America’s Got Talent a couple of months ago. She’s the real deal.
There was a thing we had in it that got cut: I think you see her whip at the very beginning of the show, but we did this thing where I held a little string of Styrofoam that she whipped out of my hand and I’ve never been more scared in my life. That thing is going 700 miles an hour or something crazy like that.
JK: It’s breaking the sound barrier.
DW: But the thing that made me go, “Okay, I’ll do this”—and I recommend this to anyone who has someone say to them, “Just trust me”—is to look at their hands. Her hands were so calloused that I looked at her and was like, “Okay, I trust her. She knows what she’s doing.” Always look at hands if you don’t know the person.
AVC: She’s probably done it before.
DW: She’s got 25 years of doing those kinds of tricks.
But yeah, the place we shot, Enchanted Springs, was this really cool place that had been on Oprah. They send kids there that aren’t hoodlums or troublemakers, but may have been spoiled. I think they’re there for a week and they live as cowboys where they get the family food and they have to bring water to the site. I wish we had more stuff to do there, but it was a really cool place and we were really lucky to film there.
AVC: Let’s wrap up with the Alamo. Matt Gourley is the narrator again, and you’ve got Chris Parnell, Jake Johnson, and Horatio Sanz in this short. And, Derek, you got to play Davey Crockett.
DW: I was so excited so many famous people said no. But I got to play Davey Crockett. One thing that wasn’t in there was that he never went by “Davey.” It was David Crockett. And he never wore a coonskin hat. That was all Disney.
I knew about the Alamo from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. I knew very little history about it, and we shot it in Santa Clarita, Jeremy?
JK: The Mexican mission. It was crazy.
DW: We shot every reenactment at that place.
Christina, the costume designer, talked about this in her interview, but the Mexican soldiers were wearing Dickies. They’re all in Dickies jackets. Jake Johnson—who was in the very first episode and was the inspiration behind Drunk History—it was really cool to have him back and have him do one of the best death scenes ever after getting shot by a gun with no bullets and dying that long. I think the Alamo is my favorite because it hit all the Drunk History elements in that we try to be as epic as possible by being really, really over the top and stupid, but we’re also trying as hard as we can to be great.
AVC: Chris Parnell is also funny with his Bowie knife.
DW: Yes! Another thing that’s kind of cool is that when Horatio Sanz is having his breakfast as Santa Anna, he’s eating the same eggs that Billy The Kid ate.
AVC: Doing something like this must be attractive for actors, because they get to do something fun. You say, “Okay, you’re going to get to have a big knife. You’re going to get to ride a horse. You’re going to wear cowboy clothes. You get to fake-die.” You’re kind of just inviting people to have fun for a day.
DW: That one really feels like you’re with your friends and you’re in the backyard making movies. That felt like playing swords or cowboys and Indians as kids. It was just fun, playing with guns that don’t shoot.
JK: What do they say, that “necessity is the mother of invention?” We shot that entire intro with all three guys and that’s all we really got. We were going to introduce them all in three separate scenarios; we were going to introduce this guy in a courtroom and this guy coming out of his house and, up until two days before shooting, we had this elaborate thing. And it became apparent that we didn’t have the time to do this. It’s only one day that we’re shooting and especially on days like that where it’s all exteriors, the sun goes down and we’re done. So it’s like, “Okay, we’re going to line everybody up against a wall and we’re going to put up a dressing behind them and we’re just going to do these little tableaus.” I love that, and it’s completely out of not having enough time or money.
DW: Can I get some credit for that being my idea?
JK: That was totally your idea.
DW: That was at wherever we eat, Café 101.
JK: That’s where we go at midnight after all our shoots to talk about what we’re going to do the next day. “How are we going to do this? We have so much to do.” It’s so ambitious. One of these a day is so huge.
AVC: How many did you shoot a week?
JK: Five a week. We were sticking to Monday-Friday. One short every day, five days a week.
AVC: So where do you guys stand now? You said earlier “if we get to do a second season.” What happens if you don’t?
DW: I think we will, but we’ll figure something out. We’re optimistic about it, but we’re also so thankful to have gotten to work with a network that let us make the show that most networks wouldn’t have allowed us to do. We’re really, really grateful. It’s the first thing I’ve ever worked on that I’m proud of. I humbly say that.
AVC: Do you have a dream city you’d like to visit in the second season?
DW: Baltimore, because it’s my hometown. Vegas, definitely. Well, I guess I shouldn’t say definitely. We want to do Los Angeles, Hollywood.
JK: L.A. is my hometown and I love that sort of Arturo Bandini Los Angeles/Chinatown world.
DW: I’d really like to do a greatest-moments-in-sports episode. I’d also really love to try to do, not serial killers, but an Unsolved Mysteries kind of show.