Sep 22, 201510:13 AM
The Lighter Side
Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy
Drunk History of New Orleans
Every so often, I'll get a text or a phone call from my mom in Ohio about some show or other on TV about New Orleans. If Guy Fieri, Anthony Bourdain or some other bro eating his way across the country stops in our city, I'll hear about it. At first it was cute, it was even a little exciting. I'd watch, maybe make a point to try the locations they happened to be visiting. I probably wouldn't end up tuning in the next time, when whatever eating/travel show did the exact same thing in Austin. Or Las Vegas. Rinse. Repeat. After so many seasons and episodes of that kind of thing, it starts feeling repetitive. And when those guys come here, it always seems like they go to the same places and talk to the same people. I learn nothing new. I just watch various hosts make awkward jokes about eating gator and cringe at the inevitable obligatory shot of people partying on Bourbon St., before getting into the meat of the episode.
But if you ever do watch a TV show that travels around to different cities, watch "Drunk History." Last week, the New Orleans episode actually taught me so much. It taught me so much like the fact that so many people died for bananas. The path towards your famous "bananas foster" is bathed in blood, my friends, bathed in blood.
I love the show "Drunk History." I don't watch Comedy Central too much these days, but after I happened upon it when nothing else was on and found myself laughing uncontrollably, I now make it a point to watch every episode. The premise sounds strange. It's basically just people, usually of the comedic persuasion, getting hammered and telling stories about various happenings in U.S. history. That part is funny enough, but the magic really happens when the stories are played out by moderately famous actors, and lip syncing the words of the drunk storytellers. So for history buffs who like to drink, this show is like Christmas morning.
When I heard they were doing a New Orleans episode, I thought, "Oh yes. Finally something different! We get our own 'Drunk History' in New Orleans!" And then I thought, "Hell, why haven't they done one before now? Why has it taken 3 seasons to get here? If any city knows about its drunk history, it's New Orleans, right?" But I digress.
The episode was split up into three different vignettes. The first was about the pirate, Jean Lafitte. The second was about the banana man, Samuel Zemurray. And the third was, of course, about Louis Armstrong. When I saw who was playing Jean Lafitte, I lifted my hands in the air in "PRAISE", for the man playing the famous pirate was none other than my moon and stars, Khal Drogo – or rather, Jason Momoa from "Game of Thrones" and the future Aquaman in the DC world. I mean, just look at this guy dressed up like our favorite pirate.
Also, Kenneth the Page from "30 Rock", or rather, Jack McBrayer, plays Andrew Jackson. I found this funny just because of past comparisons between Kenneth the Page's mannerisms and that of another famous Louisiana "leader", Bobby Jindal. Anyway, their skit was gold, told by Allan McLeod, who was loaded off of what looked like a decent-sized bottle of Bulleit bourbon.
The second part was a story about a man that I honestly had never heard of before. Maybe school kids in New Orleans hear about Samuel Zemurray when they study state history in class, but I was up in Ohio learning about Tecumseh. I had no idea that the man basically overthrew a Latin American government so that he wouldn't have to pay his taxes on bananas. Donald Trump must worship that man.
And the third act was as heartwarming as a story about Louis Armstrong can be, while being told by a man (Daryl J. Johnson) knee-deep in Sazeracs. We learned that Satchmo was brought up by a loving Jewish family and mentored by his hero, Joe "King" Oliver. It was surmised by the drunk people on the show, that he was influenced by loving people, and if it were not for all the love surrounding him, there might not have been a Louis Armstrong. So at the end of the day, it may be a show about drunk people telling stories, but you also get the kind of wise revelations that can only come from drunken discussions. And the good part about that is, in this instance, the drunken discussions are filmed, so you won't forget all the wisdom the next day.
As for the only part that had me shaking my head? Well, that was when the host Derek Waters asked a pair of drunk tourists, on what looked like Bourbon St. (of course), to say "stay tuned for more drunkenness in New Orleeeeeeenze," before a commercial break.
One of the girls then lifted up her shirt to show her pixelated chest. Because of course she did. Because that's what the world thinks we do when we drink in New Orleans, lift our tops up. People must wonder why we even go out of the house with shirts on at all.
And now for the reaction of every single person from New Orleans watching the show:
I totally recommend watching the episode, though. Comedy Central will be replaying it on Tuesday, 9/22 at 5:30 p.m. It can also be found OnDemand and on Comedy Central's website, though you have to enter your cable provider information. You can also watch a clip of the Jean Lafitte vignette here (along with clips of the other two). Or, I'm sure you could do a search and find the episode – through means that Jean Lafitte himself would most definitely approve of, something involving piracy ... that I'm certainly not advising, being the law-abiding citizen that I am. Yep.