Derek Waters Interview: ‘Drunk History’ creator
“The concept is the comedy but the main thing is the story,” reveals creator Derek Waters about his Emmy nominated series “Drunk History” (watch our exclusive video interview above). He explains, “The stories make you go ‘why wasn’t I taught that as a kid?’ As soon as that stops being the goal, the show goes in the gutter. The story has to be the core ingredient.”
“Drunk History” has been nominated again in 2018 as Best Variety Sketch Series category at the Emmys. This makes it one of only three shows (along with “Saturday Night Live” and “Portlandia”) to have been nominated for every year of the category’s existence. Waters adds, “It’s my favorite category that has ever existed. So it’s nice we’ve been in there each time.”
In “Drunk History,” comedians tell historical stories, which famous actors re-enact. The comedians tell the story while drunk. Waters says, “I’ve never not gotten a text the next day. The storyteller never feels like they did a good job. I try to consistently remind everyone that when we are finished filming, they will never believe that we have the story. I’ll never leave until we have the story. I’m so grateful for the trust they give me and our crew about filming in such a vulnerable state.”
Waters reveals that it takes “about six hours” to record a story: “The first time they tell it, they try and be funny. The more they tell it, the more they become natural. And, being drunk, they just talk with you. I wasn’t that good in school. I never really liked how teachers would talk down to me. In a weird way the more our storytellers drink, the more they are just talking to you. I always play myself as the audience. I will listen a lot better when you are just talking to someone and not being talked to.”
On whether he gets drunk, Waters admits, “I sippy sip. It depends on the person. My main goal is that they never feel exploited. That we are doing this together. But I have to do 43 of these. It’s the only good part about being born looking stoned and drunk. I can sip and they think ‘I’m not as drunk as that guy.’ It pays to look like shit. It takes me hours to look this bad.”
For this year’s race, the episode submitted by “Drunk History” to the Emmy voters is ‘Heroines.’ In the episode Paget Brewster, Tiffany Haddish and Amber Ruffin recount little known stories about heroic women from history. The women are played by Evan Rachel Wood, Busy Phillips and Mandy Moore.
Making the show for five years, Waters says he’s “learned just because you were taught something doesn’t mean that it’s true. There are many sides to one story. It’s never the way it seems. So many stories have been hidden away from us. I’ve learned that history is pretty important.”