The Comedy Central series Drunk History knows how to make history fun — and a new exhibit at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills proves they can do it even when the only alcohol involved is in teeny-tiny bottles. In advance of the show’s sixth season (which premieres Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 10 p.m.), a team of artists created detailed dioramas depicting the locations featured in upcoming episodes. The miniature scenes are on view at the pop-up Museum of Drunk History at the Paley until Jan. 20.
Drunk History has been serving up unconventional retellings and re-enactments of historical events on Comedy Central since 2013. In each episode, a comedian joins host Derek Waters and attempts to recount a historical event while drinking heavily. As the story is told, a team of costumed actors bring the drunken retelling to life. The results are entertaining and occasionally educational.
Rene Reyes, executive in charge of production at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, says, “One of the things that’s really unique about this series is it connects you to stories that changed history that you might not know about — and it makes you laugh while doing it. It’s a unique way to have history presented, and I think it really stays with you because of that. I think the show has also given incredible opportunities to people of color and people with disabilities in a way that other series haven’t been able to do as yet, and they’re given these rich stories to play.”
At first glance, the intricate dioramas on display in a gallery off the Paley’s lobby look like something that might appear in an actual history museum, but since this is Drunk History, they were designed to include elements of humor. One diorama celebrates the series itself, and includes a tiny Teddy Roosevelt on horseback, cocktail in hand.
The historical dioramas include a peek at Murderess Row, which inspired the musical Chicago; a view of Alcatraz during its occupation by Native Americans and their supporters; the setting that inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein; a tiny baseball stadium during the Black Sox Scandal, and more.
Fans of Drunk History may want to take their time at the exhibit, because the historical re-creations include a few Easter eggs. Each diorama is enclosed in a glass case and can be viewed from all sides. Reyes says, “Within some of these — they haven’t told me where or which ones — there are things that point to other historic episodes coming up that they’ll cover.”
The Museum of Drunk History at the Paley Center for Media, 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 786-1000, Paleycenter.org. Wed.-Sun., noon-5 p.m.; free.