Back in July of 1804, when Vice President Aaron Burr fired a fatal round into the abdomen of former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, I wonder which scenario would have seemed more implausible: that these political rivals would one day be resurrected in the form of a black guy and a Nuyorican, or as two young women in revealingly snug breeches, above.
Time moves on. These days, your average Hamilton-obsessed pre-teen may have trouble accepting that there was a time—January 2015, to be exact—when most Americans couldn’t say what the guy on the ten dollar bill was famous for.
I confess, until quite recently, I was far more confident in Arrested Development’s fictional Bluth family’s exploits than any involving Hamilton and Burr. This explains, in part, why I’m so drawn to the casting instincts of Derek Waters’, creator of Drunk History.
The most recent episode features Alia Shawkat, one of my favorite Arrested Development players as a sardonic, potty mouthed Hamilton.
No worries that Drunk History, which bills itself as a “liquored-up narration of our nation’s history,” is the latest in a long line of Johnny-Come-Latelys, eagerly bellying up to the Hamilton trough.
Before Shawkat imbued him with her trademark edge, Drunk History’s Hamilton exuded the befuddled sweetness of Shawkat’s besotted Arrested Development cousin, Michael Cera, who originated the part in a video that gave rise to the series, below.
That one’s far sloppier, and not just in terms of production values. The inaugural narrator, Mark Gagliardi, was rendered a good deal more than three sheets to the wind by the bottle of scotch he downed on a sagging brown velour couch.
America would not want to see its current sweetheart, Hamilton’s playwright and original leading man, Lin-Manuel Miranda in such a condition.
Whereas Gagliardi seemed dangerously close to needing the bucket Waters thoughtfully positioned nearby, a whiskey-fuelled Miranda seems merely the tiniest bit buzzed, sitting cross legged in his parent’s living room, fleshing out Hamilton’s story with bits he didn’t manage to cram into his Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, such as a bewigged Tony Hale (aka Buster Bluth) as James Monroe.
Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her play Zamboni Godot is opening in New York City in March 2017. Follow her @AyunHalliday.