'Drunk History' Returns for Season 6 With a Lot of Love, Plenty of Hilarity and Never Enough Evan Rachel Wood
By Emily Krauser
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Comedy Central
If you thought Drunk History might run out of stories, think again.
Aside from there always being something to learn about the past -- especially when you've had a few drinks -- the Comedy Central show may be fresher than ever, thanks in part to not only Derek Waters' thirst for knowledge but also the fact that, hey, this is comedy as much as it is history.
To start, tonight's season premiere features an Are You Afraid of the Dark?parody that any '90s kid can get behind. Titled, appropriately, Are You Afraid of the Drunk?, the campfire setting adds a special spookiness to Rich Fulcher's blurry telling of how Mary Shelley -- played by a phenomenal Evan Rachel Wood -- came up with her famous story, Frankenstein. The spoof, which takes up the entire episode, also stars Seth Rogen as Dr. Frankenstein, as well as Elijah Wood, Jack McBrayer and Will Ferrell.
"A lot of people will say, I've never worked with a more talented person. Like, that's just a cliche thing... Evan Rachel Wood is the most talented person. It is not like when you see someone perform, they're [simply] talented -- the word [for her] doesn't exist. She goes above and beyond that level," Waters told reporters at a Comedy Central press day last week. "I like to work with good people who just so happen to be talented -- that's my only rule. She can perform so good like that and then want to be cool and not like, 'I am serious.'"
"I remember when we did the scene with her at the table, it was like an hour before lunch, and I was like, 'I should probably do a rehearsal without the crew, just to see how much she knows that monologue,'" he added. "[She knew] every single word. I was like, 'How are you doing this?' She was like, 'I don't know. This show has tapped into a talent I didn't know I had.' But she's unbelievable. She's very, very good and could not be nicer."
Though Waters noted that the rest of the season "is kind of traditional," there will be a few of what he described as "twofers" -- two stories per episode instead of three, including one where we learn about the first black pilot, Bessie Coleman, and the Little Rock Nine -- and some guest hosts. "I decided to let people take my job for a little bit so I could, like, not die," Waters joked. "Taran Killam was a guest host. That was very exciting for me, because I love him so much, but it was a little weird for me to see someone else doing it. But you've got to do it. I don't want the show to get old."
In addition to Wood, Rogen and Killam, Drunk History's roster of star power continues to grow this season with appearances from the likes of Alison Brie and Amandla Stenberg, and the stories retold are just as powerful as ever. The 39-year-old comedian was particularly excited about an episode on national parks, which includes how Native Americans occupied Alcatraz, how John Muir took President Theodore Roosevelt to Yellowstone, and how Marjorie Stoneman Douglas fought to keep the Everglades. The high school in Parkland, Florida, where a deadly shooting took place on Valentine's Day last year, was named after her, though the tragedy won't be mentioned in the episode. "We talk about [the survivors] in a way of, this is who they were inspired by and that it is important to be a pebble in someone's shoe and fight against stuff," Waters explained. "If something's happening that you don't believe in, you fight against it, and we stand by that."
He's also proud of a love-themed episode that features the story of Edith Windsor and the Defense of Marriage Act, which Waters admitted he was embarrassed to not know of before he started doing research on the American LGBT activist. "I didn't want anyone else to feel like I felt. You need to know about her," he stated. "You need to know what they went through to fight for gay marriage and how important that is. No matter what race or sex you are, this is really important. It's love. Love! Let people be in love. If you don't, we're done."
There's a lot to look forward to this season, which means there was also a ton of research and filming to do to make this year's 39 stories come to life. Despite the exhaustion and breakneck speed from helming the series since it's iteration as a web series 11 years ago, Waters doesn't seem to mind the workload. "I'm never complaining when I'm working," he said. "It's so much fun."
Season six of Drunk History premieres on Comedy Central on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.