During the August 30 RepresentUS live-stream event, “United to Save the Vote”, Drunk History creator Derek Waters and frequent guest of the show Steve Berg (The Good Place, Hoops) reunited on Zoom to create a bite-sized episode recounting the history of absentee voting. The 5-minute mini-episode of “Drunk Social Distancing History”, was released independently today, making it the final episode of Drunk History after the show’s cancellation at Comedy Central last month, via The AV Club.
On August 19, Variety reported that Drunk History’s premature cancellation was likely a result of both COVID-19 imposed shutdowns and Comedy Central’s renewed emphasis on a line-up favoring adult animation. The Emmy-nominated variety show had originally been renewed for a 16-episode seventh season and the news of cancellation arrived in the middle of production on that season. Waters shared a photo of the series’ virtual writer’s room on Twitter in March, with everyone still working tirelessly on the show despite its halt in physical production. Earlier this week, Waters spoke with Variety and disclosed further details about what his team had in store for the show’s upcoming seventh season.
— Drunk History (@drunkhistory) March 18, 2020
Prior to the shutdown, Drunk History had filmed the majority of its inebriated historical accounts and was only awaiting the larger scale reenactments, via Variety. Season 7 would have featured comedians such as Patton Oswalt (A.P. Bio, The Goldbergs) and Sam Jay (Saturday Night Live) and covered historic moments ranging from the Harlem Hellfighters to Thelma Todd. Planning to make season 7 extra special, Waters coordinated a “Teacher Appreciation” episode with his favorite high school history teacher discussing The Whiskey Rebellion and Alexander Hamilton, via Variety. “How great would that be right now, to give love to the most unappreciated, important job in society,” Waters’ lamented on the lost episode and season with Variety “what other comedy show is doing that? We were telling stories, diverse stories and we were telling stories of unsung heroes that don’t get in the books.” Waters heartbreak’s evident in his conversation with the entertainment outlet, but the Drunk History host a carries a shred of optimism about salvaging the scraps of season 7. “I don’t think anything’s ever over. I have hope,” Waters concludes with Variety, while work-shopping low-budget alternatives reminiscent of the show’s origins on YouTube.
#DrunkHistory Season 7 episodes would have covered:
– Bruce Lee
– the Harlem Hellfighters
– Black mail carrier pioneer Stagecoach Mary
– 1930s actress Thelma Todd
– 1800s abolitionists and Black leaders Lewis Hayden and James Armistead Lafayettehttps://t.co/TCMnFZmr6k
— Variety (@Variety) August 31, 2020
The short-but-sweet “United To Save The Vote” episode of Drunk History, conducted over Zoom, is an inexpensive and paired down version of the show. Perhaps Waters, while seeking to affordably re-purpose season 7’s material, could utilize some of the strategies employed in the making of this mini-episode going forward. Waters’ Zoom backdrop places him in a library, where he greats Berg who cuts short the niceties short in favor of recounting the tale of Abraham Lincoln and the absentee ballot. Berg’s narration is accompanied by artwork and photographs appropriate to his tale. The AV Club notes that, despite the missing reenactments, couches and other familiar elements, the episode succeeds in delivering “the most important takeway…that we find a way to make sure people are able to vote.” In just 5-minutes, Drunk History’s last episode was able to achieve it’s goal of entertainingly informing RepresentUS’ audience.
— Steve Berg (@Bergmaster5000) September 4, 2020
Upon Drunk History’s original 2019 renewal, Waters’ signed a development deal with Comedy Central, meaning new projects can be expected from him down-the-line at the network. However, the loss of his beloved Drunk History weighs heavily on Waters and, according to Variety, he will be doing everything in his power to re-purpose the work that went into season 7. For now, this surprise episode covering absentee voting serves as the show’s final, intoxicating farewell.