Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

This Drunk History makes you feel drunk even if you’re not

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Has there ever been a stranger Drunk History segment than The Killing Of Lobo The King Of Currumpaw? When narrator Mike Still sat down with his vodka soda with 75 limes in it and said we’d be talking about about one of the founders of the Boy Scouts Of America, I had no idea just how batshit of a story we were in for. Well, the story itself is quite simple: Ernest Thompson Seton travels to New Mexico to hunt down Lobo, a seemingly invincible wolf who’s causing a lot of problems for locals. In the Drunk History retelling, Lobo and his super hot wolf girlfriend Blanca are characters just as much as Seton (played by Colin Hanks). Someone made the call to stick Derek Waters himself in a ridiculous wolf costume that looks like it’s straight out of the musical Cats but, you know, a wolf.

The story gets progressively weirder as Waters and Aasha Davis (who plays Blanca) fully commit to their performances as anthropomorphized wolves. Still slips in and out of a gravelly Batman voice as he tells the story. He imbues the wolves with personalities and feelings, which is, of course, exactly what Seton does in his book Wild Animals I Have Known. “The only thing that could kill Lobo is the most dangerous weapon of all: love,” Still says. It’s bonkers, but he sells the hell out of it. His retelling in “New Mexico” pushes the boundaries of just how silly the show can go without being stupid. Therein lies the the beauty of Drunk History. It’s stupid fun, but it’s smart stupid fun, because at its base, it’s just good storytelling.

Waters and Davis make hilariously cool wolves, but the segment doesn’t only rely on the sight gag of two grown humans frolicking in wolf costumes. Still brings real emotion to the story, and Hanks gives an earnest performance that makes it all the more funny but also all the more grounded. Even though he’s chasing down a wolf-ified Waters and using intentionally cheap-looking props, he plays the emotions as real, and it keeps the story grounded, even in its heightened reality that feels akin to a children’s book. But even more impressively, Waters similarly plays through real emotion as Lobo the wolf. He literally plays a tragic wolf in this episode, and it’s brilliant. What the hell is this show? There really is nothing like it.

Maybe The Killing Of Lobo The King Of Currumpaw seems especially wacky because it’s wedged between two more “traditional” Drunk History stories. Traditional in the case of Drunk History still means obscene newspaper headlines and anachronisms and over-the-top characterizations, but the tales told by Fortune Feimster and Steve Berg have a few less surprises to them than Still’s retelling. Regardless, Feimster and Berg both have very specific, distinct cadences that rings their stories to life.

Even the in-between bits that I usually am not such a fan of have a weird surprise this week. Between the second and third segments, there’s footage of an alien costume contest that just plays out without any real introduction or context other than the fact that the crew is in New Mexico. I’m pretty sure Derek gets called onto the stage as “Daryl Waters,” which I found amusing in and of itself, but the whole thing, even though it only lasts about a minute, is so effortlessly funny. I want a Documentary Now documentary about this exact costume contest. It’s a tiny part of the episode, but it’s one of the many moments when I thought to myself “what the hell am I watching?” Normally, that’s not really the kind of thing you want people thinking when watching your show. But Drunk History benefits from a bit of disorientation. After all, during both the alien costume contest and Still’s retelling of The Killing Of Lobo The King Of Currumpaw, I truly felt drunk even though I hadn’t had a single alcohol since Halloween. And that’s exactly how this show should make people feel.

Stray observations

  • Oh boy, there are some fabulously bad wigs in the third segment.
  • The music is especially on point in Still’s segment.
  • Feimster: “This is like Vice.”