The cocreator of Drunk History got a taste of his own medicine while filming the show’s current third season. That medicine, of course, was so much alcohol and the telling of a historical tale.
“This season got really crazy for me,” Jeremy Konner said during our recent interview. “I actually went on the show as a narrator, which was awesome and terrible and all the things that I was fearing all at once.”
In an upcoming episode, Konner tells the story of how Los Angeles got its water—something Chinatown fans will find familiar. Konner chose the story because it’s one that he is interested in and passionate about—a key ingredient for a show in which narrators imbibe deeply and tell a true historical tale, which is then punctuated with reenactment footage of the drunken retelling, as portrayed by top-tier comedic performers like Will Ferrell and Maya Rudolph. Unfortunately, despite Konner’s enthusiasm for the material, he happened to pick a really complicated story to tell. He also got, um, rather deep into character.
“I drank close to a bottle of whiskey,” he says. “Then Derek [Waters, cocreator/host] and I started doing tequila shots, and that was a bad idea.
Viewers of the episode, set to air in the coming weeks, will be the ultimate judges of whether it was a bad idea. They can look forward to seeing Tenacious D, aka Jack Black and Kyle Gass, play William Mulholland and Frederick Eaton, who are integral to the story. In the meantime, read on for Konner’s behind-the-scenes account of how it all went down.
“I did some things that I promised I would never do if I was eventually on the show,” he says. “One of which was I told myself I would have a story that could be told succinctly and easily. And I chose a topic that was so insanely complicated, and I read so much about it, and became so obsessed with the inner workings, that if I was to tell it sober it would have taken an hour. Drunkenly, it took about eight hours.”
“All I remember is starting to drink, and then the next flash I have is all of the people I work with and my friends going, ‘Come on, man. Come on, Jeremy—just finish the story, just get to the end, you can do this!'” Konner recalls. “Everyone was just getting frustrated at me, and I’m looking around and I don’t know what I’m doing or not doing. All I know is everybody’s kind of frustrated. Then the next thing I know, I’m in a car and my producer’s driving me home, and I’m going, ‘I don’t think I told the story!’ And she’s saying, ‘I promise you told the story.’ Then I’m puking in a toilet while my wife has Game of Thrones night in the other room with 12 of our friends.”
“I don’t think anyone was genuinely angry at me or anything, but people just wanted to get the story, and also, we had plans!” Konner says. “Derek and I were gonna go jump in this pool—I brought squirt guns, and I wanted to do a water fight, because the story was all about water. None of that even came close to happening. For the next two days, I was miserable, just convinced that I’m the most unfunny, worst storyteller that’s ever existed. And from what I understand, I am not the only one who has had this experience on our show. At least I have the advantage of getting to edit it, but that’s a real double-edged sword—being able to infinitely watch yourself at the most vulnerable state. It’s very painful to watch and relive. I might bury it before it ever sees the light of day. But hopefully I don’t.”