Monica Sotto Interview: ‘Drunk History’ production designer
There was no doubt in Monica Sotto’s mind that the “Bad Blood” episode of “Drunk History” would be the show’s submission for the Variety/Reality Production Design category at this year’s Emmys. “It was, from the beginning, an epic undertaking, the Egyptian aspect of ‘Bad Blood,’ that we knew on set it was going to be such a fun presentation of our work,” explains Sotto in our recent webchat (watch the video above). She also discussed how the Typhoid Mary segment was also a fun set to design, but in the end, it still boiled down to one simple truth. “We got to play around in ancient Egypt, so I had to pick it.”
“Drunk History,” which concluded its sixth season on Comedy Central last year, features comedy personalities getting incredibly inebriated and recounting historical events. At the same time we get to see those stories acted out with characters lip-syncing to the drunk narrator’s dialogue. This is Sotto’s second Emmy nomination for her work on “Drunk History.” She was nominated in the same category in 2017 for the show’s “Hamilton” episode.
Sotto came into the “Drunk History” fold several seasons into the show’s run and she honestly thought there would be drunk people on set when she started. “I thought, ‘Wow. It’s so ambitious to do such a good-looking show. I bet it’s awesome and they have a lot of time.’ When I got there it was, ‘No, we’re very sober and we don’t have a lot of time.’” She likens how her department works with how it would for a live TV broadcast and that it helps to accelerate the energy of the show. “It kind of feels like theater but I was really surprised with what they were able to accomplish in such a compressed timeline.”
Sotto was floored by her recent Emmy nomination and even leaned into an old cliché. “When they say, ‘I already feel like I won by being nominated,’ it’s true. It really is because everyone that you love comes out of the woodwork to celebrate with you and it’s almost like getting married.” After losing her 2017 race to “Saturday Night Live,” Sotto became comfortable with the idea that maybe something like that could happen again at some point in her career. Now that the moment has come again, the feeling is amazing. “I definitely have some impostor syndrome, like, ‘Who am I,’ but I’ve been told often that we deserve it and I’m super happy about that.”