Las Vegas is the perfect setting for Drunk History to work with. This city has larger than life stories—big stories that would are easily heightened to wilder extremes once alcohol is added. “Las Vegas” is one of the most visually interesting episodes of the season, adhering to Drunk History’s signature low-budget look but still transforming simple sets into truly immersive worlds. No detail gets overlooked. The narrators get sloppy and slouchy, but the reenactments look incredibly tight.
Chris Romano kicks things off, and nerves definitely get to him a bit. Drunk narration demands a certain level of confidence in order for it to be fun. Most of all, it needs to seem like the narrator is having fun with what they’re doing themselves. There are exceptions, like with Paget Brewster, who doesn’t seem like she particularly likes doing drunk retellings, but rather seems like she hates everything about it but is still going to give it her all. Romano just seems, unfortunately, a little bored. He doesn’t slur so much as slog. At times, he gets too stuck on insignificant details, and at other times, he rushes a little too much as he tries to get through the plot of the story.
Brendon Walsh picks up the energy with his segment about Bugsy Siegel and Las Vegas’s early organized crime scene. Walsh is the kind of drunk narrator who likes to play with a lot of dynamics in his storytelling, changing the intensity and cadence of his voice to fit the tone of the story. His voice gets somber for the darker parts and then noticeably charged for the more exciting bits, so it’s easy to stay right there in the moment with him. He adds some weird inflections that end up being really fun for the reenactors to play with. Sam Rockwell, Dennis Quaid, and Ben Schwartz all give really incredible performances. Quaid in particular commits at full throttle to the role, easily becoming the standout player of the episode.
Even when the narration isn’t at its best, the direction throughout “Las Vegas” is really on point. Each of the stories allows for really elaborate sets. “Las Vegas” creates the glitzy, bright world of the city it drunkenly explores. The costumes and coloring in Walsh’s segment is particularly strong, creating a believable and intricate world that gives personality to the story as much as Walsh’s drunken words do. The aesthetics for the Moulin Rouge are similarly strong. Even the chyrons are written in a flowery font
The real winner of the episode, however, is Paul F. Tompkins and his narration about the Moulin Rouge casino. Tompkins can say just about anything, and it’s funny. He’s a human cartoon character whose bouncy cadence never wavers, even as he’s talking about racism . At one point, he gets so excited about what he’s saying that he plows right through a hiccup, not letting it stop him from getting out what he needs to say. The hiccups return though and, in true Drunk History form, get incorporated in the reenactment. The hiccup attack really fucks with Tompkins, but he keeps going, sinking deeper into the couch. He barely opens his eyes for the second half of his segment, but he keeps going, somehow maintaining his playfulness so that it never becomes sad. It’s fun to watch narrators struggle but not if they sink too far. Tompkins keeps up the energy of the story even as he’s disappearing into his couch.
- “So, they’re doing murders.”
- Of course Tompkins does his Drunk History segment in his signature suit and bow tie look. What a delightful, odd man.
- “Because I’m a racist! From the time in which I live!”
- “I may be hiccup.”