Sunday, December 7, 2008

Treasures of Youtube: Drunk History, Yacht Rock

This weekend I got together with the Tulane crew in New Hampshire. While we were hanging out, we shared some funny videos we'd found on the web.

Drunk History

I showed everyone Drunk History which my brother Michael originally turned me on too. Each episode of this web series takes place late at night and features someone who is trashed recounting a story from American history. While these people slur their speech and bumble their way through the story, actors such as Michael Cera (who plays Alexander Hamilton in Volume 1) and Jack Black (who plays Ben Franklin in Volume 2 and 2 1/2) reenact the historical events being narrated.

All the episodes are amusing, but my favorite would have to be Volume 3 where comedienne Jen Kirkman shares with us the story of Oney Judge, George and Martha Washington's runaway slave who escaped to freedom in (coincidentally enough) Porstmouth, NH. I didn't know who Jen Kirkman was (or Oney Judge for that matter) before I watched the video, but judging from the video I would say that she seems like a lot of fun. And, apparently, she also did voice work for one of my favorite cartoons, Home Movies. Anyway here's the video for Drunk History Volume 3, if you like it you can watch all the rest on funny or die.

I did a little research and found out that Drunk History was directed by Jeremy Konner and produced/created by Derek Waters. Derek Waters also produces this comedy show called LOL, and you can check out the LOL myspace page for some more funny videos. In addition to the original 4 1/2 volumes there's also a Drunk History Volume 5 on Youtube which tells the story of the midnight ride of Paul Revere: I think it was created by other people, but it is also pretty good.

Yacht Rock

Perhaps even funnier that Drunk History is the web series called Yacht Rock which Becky introduced us to. The term "Yacht Rock" refers to smooth, easy listening songs which were popular in the late '70s and early '80s. This music was produced in Southern California, and the name may come from the fact that they often included nautical reference (which would put Christopher Cross' Sailing at the center of the Yacht Rock galaxy).

Each episodes in the web series tells the supposed story behind a particular yacht rock hit, and they feature dramatized/fictionalized portraits of famous musicians of the time like Steely Dan, Toto, Hall & Oates, Journey, and even Michael Jackson. The series is deliberately shot to appear grainy and overexposed, and its hilarious, trippy effect is heightened by the fact that the characters routinely break into song in midsentence. JD Ryznar (who plays Michael McDonald) is also the series' writer, director and producer. He came up with the original idea together with Hunter Stair who plays Kenny Loggins.

Here's Yacht Rock Episode 1, and you can find all the rest on Youtube.

Enjoy the videos, and don't lose the smooth.

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