Think Fast with…Derek Waters

The creator of Comedy Central’s <em>Drunk History</em> (season three premieres September 1) sits in the hot seat for our rapid fire Q&A

Recalling the finer points of American history is hard enough when you’re sober. On the Web series-turned-TV show Drunk History, plastered (but passionate!) comedians give it a go, spiritedly explaining the invention of electricity or the creation of Mickey Mouse to the best of their impaired abilities. Celebrities in period-specific garb reenact the narrations, taking care to lip-synch every curse, stammer, and non sequitur. Researchers—and medics—are on hand, and the retellings are factual, making the results as informative as they are amusing.

Drunk History’s third season, which premieres September 1, will for the first time devote an episode to four L.A. legends: water titans William Mulholland and Fred Eaton, movie star pooch Rin Tin Tin, and 19th-century vigilante Andrés Pico. “When you think of Los Angeles, you think of famous people and maybe the L.A. riots,” says series creator and host Derek Waters. “What’s interesting to me are all the things that have happened here that maybe we weren’t alive for. More people need to know these stories.” We agree. Also, more people need to know Waters. Considering that the Upright Citizens Brigade alum is always putting his narrators on the spot, we thought it only fair he endure the same kind of pressure.

L.A. historical figure you’d like to hang out with?
Damn! I’d really like to meet Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton—I’d be afraid to meet Fatty Arbuckle. I wanted to do a story on him, but it’s too dark.

First song lyric that pops into your head that has the word drink, drank, or drunk in it?
There’s a George Jones song with the line “Guess I’ll just stay here and drink….” I believe it’s George Jones. Hold on, I’ve got my computer. Let me make sure so people think I’m cool and just saying this off the top of my head.

Rescue 911 reenactments or infomercial reenactments?
Rescue 911—for the rest of my life. That was my favorite show. Tuesdays at eight o’clock. Those reenactments were and still are so inspirational to me—I love stupidity played sincerely. The reason I always loved Rescue 911 was that no one ever died, except for once, and it really fucked me up. It’s like, you can’t talk about someone if they died! This is rescue; now it’s just 911.

Favorite fictional drunk?
Sheila Albertson—Catherine O’Hara in Waiting for Guffman. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen anyone play drunk that was so believable.

Animated character you’d cast in a Drunk History reenactment?
I love Snow White. She’s beautiful, she sings, she’s very kind—Snow White can star in anything.

Composer Francis Scott Key or comedian Keegan-Michael Key?
Oh, jeez! One’s alive, one’s dead! I can’t pick between those two. My answer will be Keegan Francis—I’m trying to combine them—Keegan Francis Michael Scott Key, without a doubt.

I read in an article that you think you’d be good at Family Feud.
Who said that?

You told The AV Club that.
Was I drunk?

You were.
I would be, though—I had a handheld Family Feud. I was great at it. I want the dream team: Me, Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Ben Franklin, and Eddie Vedder. And I’ve got to get one L.A. person: Randy Newman as the host.

Dead comedian you’d resurrect to be a narrator on Drunk History?
Mitch Hedberg.

What story would you want him to tell?
Anything. The history of M&Ms. The history of fucking rubber bands. He can make anything funny.

You’re from Baltimore. The Wire or The Shield?
The Wire, hands down. Hashtag I’ve never seen The Shield. But I don’t need to because The Wire’s the best. If you gave me The Wire and Friday Night Lights I’d be fucking stuck.

The Shield is an L.A. show, though, so that’s why I picked it.
Oh God, I’m really ruining this whole L.A. thing.