This week writer Cameron Williams puts two great Drunk History episodes up against each other, as Bar Fights faces off against The Roosevelts.
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30 Jan 2017 - 2:26 PM  UPDATED 31 Jan 2017 - 1:15 PM

 We’re 4 seasons into Drunk History, the series where sloshed personalities tell historical tales while their version is re-enacted word-for-word; so it’s time to introduce a little competition. It’s time to rank the drunken storytellers recruited to bring their tales to life each week.

Drunk History takes on the themes of Bar Fights and The Roosevelts (double episodes all season) this week. Bar Fights revisits the great moments in time when a big night out became eligible to be taught in high-school history classes across the nation. The Roosevelts features three stories about President Teddy Roosevelt, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

6. FDR and Winston Churchill by Eric Edelstein (The Roosevelts)

Edelstein chugs a glass of champagne in preparation for his story, so there’s an early sign it could get messy. Surprisingly and disappointingly, Edelstein holds his booze enough to tell the story of how FDR (Rich Fulcher) and Churchill (Louie Anderson) got together in December, 1942, to plan how America was going to enter WWII and kick fascist butt. Edelstein does it with the aptitude of a history professor despite being sauced. The re-telling is too polished for Drunk History but the story FDR and Churchill (which I was unaware of) is a good one to add to the knowledge banks and ends on a nice sentimental note.

5. Teddy Roosevelt and football by Katie Nolan (The Roosevelts)

I love it when Drunk History finds an odd story for the history books that’s mostly forgotten. Nolan, an American Fox Sports host, unloads the tale of how Roosevelt played a major role in shaping American Football. It starts out with Nolan quoting Friday Night Lights and Varsity Blues so this should automatically be the best of the bunch; but this is Drunk History, not Drunk Quote Awesome Things. Nolan blasts through the story but is still drunk enough to go off the rails and get self-depreciating and they handle her mistakes nicely in the re-enactment. The wildest part of the story is how many people died playing American football prior to the changes Roosevelt instigated in the 1900s.

4. The Saloon Smasher by Amber Ruffin (Bar Fights)

A lady walks into a bar and smashes the place up. Or “does a smashie”, as Ruffin says while giggling during her story about Carrie Nation (Saturday Night Live’s Vanessa Bayer), a radical member of the temperance movement, which opposed alcohol before the advent of prohibition. Nation wrecked bars across America following the death of her husband due to alcoholism and claimed she was doing it because God told her to. She’s like The Blues Brothers of the 1900s. Bayer is fantastic in the re-enactment and Ruffin is perfectly tipsy. There’s also a great footnote to the story with Nation being credited as part of the movement to get women the vote in America.

3. The Stonewall Riots by Crissle West (Bar Fights)

The shot glass that was heard around the world. West doesn’t hold back in her passion for the story about Marsha P. Johnson and the Stonewall Riots in 1969; an event widely considered to be the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States and around the world. West gives the best crash course in this landmark event to anyone unaware of its significance.

 

2. Andrew Jackson’s duels by Kyle Kinane (Bar Fights)

Kinane is the most obviously wasted of the bunch out of these two episodes and it’s fantastic. He keeps grabbing the boom microphone and holding it as if he was doing karaoke. The yarn on offer is the story of the American President Andrew Jackson (Michael Cera) and his obsession with dueling before he became leader of the free world. Yes, dueling: take 10 steps, turn and draw your gun. One of Jackson’s duels gets out of hand and the story matches how wildly drunk Kinane is while explaining what happened. Real History and Drunk History in perfect harmony. It ends with Kinane eating a hamburger in his underwear. I adore the episodes that with the munchies.

1. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Communist sniper by Paget Brewster (The Roosevelts)

So, Russia isn’t exactly in the good books with America right now (unless your last name is Trump, zing!) but there was a time during WWII when the two nations partnered up and Brewster recounts the time Eleanor Roosevelt (Busy Phillips) recruited Liudmyla Pavlychenko (Mae Whitman), one of the top military snipers of all time, to assist with the war effort on the American home-front. Paget passionately walks you through the discrimination Pavlychenko received from the American press for being a woman and her fierce public opposition to their criticisms. As the story rolls on it’s clear Paget is an emotional drunk and she gets teary talking about the bond between Roosevelt and Pavlychenko that lasts beyond their time together during WWII. I shed a tear, too, completely sober.

Pour yourself a glass and learn some damn history on SBS VICELAND Sunday nights at 9:30pm. You can also catch up on episodes streaming on SBS On Demand.

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