Ron Batzdorff/Comedy Central
June 28, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

Among critics, scholars, and cultural scientists, there is a specific term in the analytical jargon to characterize the popular Web series Drunk History: stoopid genius. On Comedy Central’s new iteration of the Funny or Die favorite, creator/host Derek Waters gets comedians and normal folk drunk and asks them to tell a tale from history. Each yarn is dramatized by a different cast of sometimes-famous faces — season 1 features Kristen Wiig, Winona Ryder, and Michael Cera — who perform with a handicap: They must lip-synch the slurry lines of their inebriated narrator. Sounds dumb. It plays hilarious. Part of the fun is just watching actors take the turbulent ride of meandering, coherence-challenged rambles like: ”This guy is weird! This guy’s, like, an ape. He’s got ape arms! He’s got, like, ape-awkward arms. This guy’s, like, an ape-awkward guy! This guyyy! Is an ape…awk — …oct — …oxsward! He’s, like, an ape-man! This guy’s, like, an ape-awkward man!” (The man in question is Abraham Lincoln, played by actor Eric Filipkowski.) Some performances are more spirited than others; Adam Scott (as John Wilkes Booth), Joe Lo Truglio (as Al Capone), and Fred Willard (as Watergate’s Deep Throat) seem uniquely qualified to be vessels for blitzed bards. (By contrast: Jack Black’s Elvis? Surprisingly just okay.) If you’re wondering whether these guys are really drunk, the vomiting should set you straight. If you’re thinking about how long it’ll be before this joke gets old, then you are not alone. Until then, Drunk History is a high-concept riot. You won’t learn anything, except the one thing they don’t teach you in school: Know when to say when. B+

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