Paget Brewster approaches Drunk History narration like she’s about to fight someone. She has always been one of my favorite drunk historians, and I think Derek Waters feels the same way considering just how often she returns and how delighted he is by everything that she says in her “Inventors” segment. Waters, ever the Drunk Whisperer, also knows exactly how to get great reactions out of her, namely by just making her mad, which he does at the top of her segment by repeatedly pointing out that she’s fucking up the intro. “I’ll fucking do it, but shush it,” she throws back. Brewster doesn’t take shit from anyone, not even the Drunk Whisperer.
No narrator on Drunk History is more serious than Brewster, who barely cracks a smile as she tells the story of the inventor of the bra, Mary Phelps Jacob (played with warmth by Parker Posey). Whereas most retellers tend to devolve into giggle fits at their own words—a habit that’s definitely adorable if not all that flattering—Brewster doesn’t have time for that. The only thing that’s going to distract her from her own story is her bladder. She’s borderline angry in her delivery, and it’s incredible. Her intensity elevates the story. It isn’t until she’s done narrating and rolling around in a pile of bras with Waters that she finally lets herself laugh, her job finally done.
It’s certainly a tough act to follow, but Duncan Trussell holds his own. His storytelling style is vastly different from Brewster’s, but it’s so distinct to him. Both Brewster and Trussell have very clear, individualized methods of narrating, which is exactly how it should be. Their personalities come through in their made-up dialogue and inflections. Trussell, unsurprisingly, inserts a lot of commentary into his segment, something that isn’t always that common for narrators to do. But when a reteller gets riled up about a particular issue from their story, it can be really fun and adds an extra layer to the segment. Trussell has a lot of things to say about the selfishness of Thomas Edison. He also, somehow, ends up connecting it all to the singularity. It’s classically Trussell, and you can tell that he’s just being his truest self on the show.
J.D. Ryznar is a little more formulaic in his narration than Brewster and Trussell, and less of himself comes through in his segment, but part of that has to do with how busy his story is. There are almost too many players, but at least all the reenactors in his—including Martin Starr, Jason Ritter, and Henry Winkler—are all hilarious and fiercely committed to the intensity of the story. Ritter, especially, gives a powerful performance that verges on emotional. Although, his little flirty eyebrow wiggle during the end credits is probably the best moment of the episode.
- Dogs in laps are becoming one of my favorite Drunk History tropes.
- “I’m a cute little inventor. I’m Elisha Gray.”
- “Oh shit. Invent the telephone? Yes please.”
- “Wilbur? No. Walt Disney? No. Telephone.”
- Trussell also has some great dynamics in his storytelling, like when he decides randomly to whisper a few of the lines.