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“Hamilton mania” isn’t slowing down anytime soon, and the next medium it’s taking over is TV.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and former star of Broadway’s smash hit, will narrate an entire season four episode of Drunk History, and, of course, the episode is themed all about Alexander Hamilton. It’s a big get for the Comedy Central series, and creator/star Derek Waters knows it.
But how did he get one of the most popular (and busiest) figures in pop culture to agree to get drunk and narrate an entire episode of television about the same man he just finished playing on Broadway?
“Craigslist. I do it all with Craigslist,” Waters tells The Hollywood Reporter with a laugh. “I had heard that he liked the show. I had heard that he was writing Hamilton when he saw our first story ever of Hamilton [on Drunk History]. He liked it and always wanted to do it. I reached out to him and we had a nice conversation over the phone about what would be different about the musical than what would be in this and why we would do a story we’ve already done. That’s why his episode is just one story.”
Normally each episode of Drunk History contains three different stories narrated by three different people, but the Hamilton-themed episode, airing Nov. 29, is a special case in season four.
“He does the whole thing and there are some parts in there that he didn’t get to fit into the musical,” Waters says. “I’m really thankful he wanted to do it. We had a blast. And I made it a point not to see the musical until after we filmed because I didn’t want to fan out on him. But after I saw it I was like, ‘Oh my God, that was amazing.'”
The Hollywood Reporter also spoke with Waters about what other changes he made to his web series turned TV show for season four, if Miranda got drunk enough to barf on camera during filming, and more.
First of all, I just wanted to thank you because I’ve retained more knowledge of historical events from Drunk History than I did in all my years of school. It’s incredible.
That’s the secret goal. I don’t really want to say it because it will sound pretentious, but I secretly want to learn, I want to teach, and that’s the only way we become better is learning from the past.
The secret to teaching is clearly drinking. A lot.
I think it’s that thing we’re taught as kids – it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. In school, it’s just genuinely boring. We all remember our favorite teacher and the reason why, because of how they talked and taught. Not because they gave you an A. You actually remembered stuff. My favorite teacher of all time was my history teacher. That’s been the inspiration for this.
Did you go into season four with any particular goals in mind, or any changes you wanted to make?
My biggest goal, and it’s been this way since the show started, was how do I continue this show and it not get old? Drunk people and a famous person – how could that not get old? This year I decided to get rid of going to cities and making the episodes about cities. This year, they’re all themed episodes. I just wanted to find the best stories and find a way to connect three of them for each episode. We have stories about great escapes, stories about siblings, stories about food. And then we have that big Hamilton episode – no pressure in that, right?
Now that you have seen both the musical and you have filmed your episode, how do the two compare?
Less singing. (Laughs.) A little funnier. But I humbly like both of them. You don’t have to pay a thousand dollars to see Drunk History‘s Hamilton.
Did you always want to tell Hamilton’s story with Miranda or did that come about after Hamilton blew up?
It organically happened with Lin liking the show and the success of the musical. It just felt like it would be a really cool thing to try and bring the whole show full circle since it started on YouTube with Michael Cera playing Hamilton.
What was it like having him as the drunk narrator?
It was really cool. I wanted to make sure, like I do for every narrator, that they’re comfortable and they’re in a safe place. He wanted to film at his parents’ house which was really funny. I had seen that house when he got interviewed on 60 Minutes. (Laughs.) I was interviewing him but I’m not from 60 Minutes so that was surreal. I was just honored because this man is wanted by everybody. It was so sweet that he took the time and wanted to do it.
What was his drink of choice?
He got drunk off of Tennessee Whiskey. (Pause.) I know, I know.
Please tell me that we’re going to get to see Lin-Manuel Miranda barf on TV … and is it weird that seeing the narrators barf is my favorite part of Drunk History?
I think it might be weird that that’s your favorite because that’s my least favorite. (Laughs.) I have to spoiler alert: He does not barf in the episode. But I’m fascinated that that’s your favorite part. I like that you like that. They don’t puke as much anymore. Well, okay they do, but it’s usually the next day or after filming.
Why is that?
Now the narrators don’t drink until I get there. It helps me know what level of drunk they are. In the past, they would sometimes be a little too drunk if they drink without me. So that’s a big change.
You said this episode was going to have “less singing.” Does that mean that the episode is going to be somewhat musical?
I hope so. I say that because I’m hoping we can clear a song that Lin and I sing together. Fingers crossed that Lin and I sing “Closing Time.”
Since this is an election year, are you going to have any political or election themed episodes?
No, this election is just too sad. (Laughs.) I like how we are political without trying to be political.
Drunk History airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.
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