Not a new show, not the first time I’ve said this.
But in a sea of cable and streaming “reality TV,” where we go to Late Night Hosts for our news, when “fact” has been reduced to opinion thanks to a single TV network, one TV program stands above all others in giving us lower-than-low comedy built upon the Great Edifice of Fact.
Derek Waters’ genius conceit, feeding comics (and comic actors) drinks as they relate researched, footnote-able “history” about tragedies, towns, poets and “underdogs” in their own slurred and progressively drunker words, has hit the sweet spot.
Where else can you go on a weekly basis, giggle hysterically at a comic impersonating Ross Perot in high-voiced high-dudgeon over funding The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and get choked up and misty-eyed over the sweeping story of this maligned then feverishly embraced national monument and the woman who designed it?
Where else can you see Lin-Manuel Miranda give us the DRUNKEN version of the life of Alexander Hamilton? Between hiccups, and the occasional belch?
It’s no wonder that guest stars — from Colin Hanks (Playing ‘mister” Fred Rogers a year before his father takes on the children’s TV icon) to Mandy Moore, Will Ferrell and Jenny Slate to Bob Oedenkirk sign on to mime out the stories assorted stand-ups (Tiffany Haddish was a stand out stand-up) boozily recite/relate and find themselves relating to.
I’m a history buff, and in spite of decades of reading everything that comes out on Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton, Ida Tarbell and Gloria Steinem, I find myself slack-jawed in awe at some of what the show’s research team digs up about them, or Baltimore and Poe, Coca-Cola and Atlanta.
It’s a program whose time has come, for a history-ignorant culture that will come for the drunken laughs and learn something, almost in spite of itself.
If you’ve forgotten its on Comedy Central, set the DVR and find your way back to the light. If you’ve never seen it, find it. See it sober and let it sink in.
This is TV’s finest half hour.