“Drunk History” began as a YouTube series by Derek Waters and his friends, with each episode providing an historical lesson starring the likes of Michael Cera, Jack Black and Danny McBride as famous figures.
That popular Web series is now getting ready to debut its second season on Comedy Central with the likes of Courteney Cox, Laura Dern, Emily Deschanel, Johnny Knoxville, John Lithgow, Jason Momoa and Winona Ryder taking turns acting out famous scenes from history.
New episodes, each featuring an inebriated comedian trying their hardest to remember a tale from history while a group of actors reenacts it (the drunken narrator’s version of it, that is), compiles stories that center on a city or event. Season one’s highlights were Chicago, Nashville and the Wild West. Comedy Central’s second season is no different, tackling the election of 1800, the Baltimore plot to assassinate Lincoln, Edgar Allan Poe’s rivalry with Rufus Griswold, the origins of “Rapper’s Delight” and the traitor Benedict Arnold.
With a success story under its belt and big names to offer in season two, Comedy Central kicked off its campaign recently with key art that called for a definite double take. More precisely, with imagery that portrays the show perfectly “in a way that gets attention,” said Walter Levitt, Comedy Central’s chief marketing officer.
“This is one of those pieces of creative that you will not be able to ignore,” said Levitt. “We’ve really tried to reflect the concept in a simple, direct way.”
And when the concept is quite simply “Drunk History,” an image of our first president that makes viewers think they’re seeing double really does the trick. “The visual is just so attention-getting, so unexpected, so much fun and so clear in clarifying the premise of the series,” said Levitt.
Also along these lines, Comedy Central went out on its social platforms with “This Day in Drunk History,” a daily look back an important event on today’s date, but “Drunk History” style.
This Day in #DrunkHistory: The first extraterrestrial message was sent from Earth into space. pic.twitter.com/yAnAZZn4Pf
— Comedy Central (@ComedyCentral) June 23, 2014
The tweets and Facebook posts offer insight into actual historical facts, such as, “On this day in #DrunkHistory, the U.S. went off the gold standard, making drunken rants about the economy that much more confusing.”
Comedy Central’s goal for these pieces was to make them as sticky and shareable as possible. The trick is that “the shareable ones will be different for you than it will be for me,” said Levitt. But between the show’s 250,000 fans on Facebook and Comedy Central’s Twitter fan base of 680,000, the network has earned a good amount of amplification.
“Drunk History” follows in the footsteps of shows such as “Broad City” and “Workaholics,” online series that proved their followings could cross over to TV. Comedy Central is now using those platforms to re-engage its audience for season two. Comedy Central’s YouTube page and website have been releasing clips from the new season, highlighting big names that will take part in stories, such as how the Statue of Liberty was built or how Percy Julian overcame racism to become a prolific inventor.
“It all starts with just an idea that’s so much fun and so compelling and unique,” said Levitt, “and then the incredible talent that we have this season is the icing on the cake.”
The new season’s premiere episode on July 1 centers on Montgomery, Ala. and stars Terry Crews, Tim Heidecker, Jordan Peele and Weird Al Yankovic (as Hitler). Really, the chance to see Weird Al Yankovic as Hitler alone should get people to tune in.