Derek Waters Q&A: ‘Drunk History’ producer
“It all started over a night of drinking,” admits “Drunk History” creator Derek Waters as we chat via webcam (watch above) about the origins of his Emmy-nominated series. Waters recalls he was drinking with his friend Jake Johnson (“New Girl”). “He was very excited to tell me the story of Otis Redding and how Redding knew that his death was imminent.” The thought of having that acted out with actors lip syncing to Johnson’s drink-inspired dialogue intrigued Waters and led him to develop what would become “Drunk History.”
The Comedy Central show was recently nominated for its second consecutive Emmy for Best Variety Sketch Series. Waters described the feeling of that first nomination last year thus: “Any human being hopes what they are doing gets received well, but I still feel like I’m making movies in my backyard with friends. But then when you get acknowledged by the actual academy, it takes a lot to sink in.”
Waters expressed admiration for the costume designers who took home the Emmy last year for all the meticulous work they put in behind-the-scenes. And he was pleased that the production designers snagged nominations this year as well as editor Jody McVeigh-Schultz who must cut eight hours of footage per guest into a single show.
Waters has submitted the episode “Spies” to Emmy voters. It features stories involving Harriet Tubman (Oscar winner Octavia Spencer), Virginia Hall (Alia Shawkat) and Roald Dahl (Will Ferrell). He recalls the surreal experience of filming this episode. “It goes from working with friends to an Oscar winner moving her lips to the dialogue and you wonder to yourself, ‘Are we making the Harriet Tubman movie?'”