What Happened To Derek Waters From Drunk History?

Comedy Central's "Drunk History" was abruptly canceled in 2020 after six seasons. Created by Derek Waters, the show was based on a popular "Funny or Die” web series of the same name. In both versions of the show, intoxicated celebrities tried to recount real historical events to the best of their knowledge. That narration was then used as other famous actors and comedians play-acted and lip-synced the action.

Based on that formula, the online and TV versions of "Drunk History" were a hit. The Comedy Central series received a number of Emmy nominations during its run, and earned one win. Familiar faces who appeared in the series include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jack Black, and Will Ferrell, the latter of which also executive-produced the show. The program was in pre-production for its 7th season when its fate was announced. Needless to say, fans were surprised when "Drunk History" got the ax.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic halt in film and TV production played a part, it was during that same time that Comedy Central unveiled a shift in programming toward adult animation and away from live action. Waters' series simply failed to make the cut (via Deadline). 

With "Drunk History" canceled, Waters, a Maryland native, spoke with The Baltimore Sun. At that time, Waters said he was working on new material and seeking a possible new platform for his show. Deadline also reported that Waters maintained a "first-look deal" with Comedy Central and could possibly transition to new projects.

Few new Waters projects have emerged

As of 2023, little new material from "Drunk History" creator Derek Waters has seen the light of day, nor has a new home for "Drunk History" been announced. Shortly after the show's cancellation, Waters spoke with Entertainment Tonight. In that interview, he expressed his shock at the show's ending, and said that even though all production was stopped early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, the "Drunk History" formula seemed well-suited for remote production. 

For example, episodes could be filmed in Waters' own backyard, similar to how the show was made on the "Funny or Die" web platform, he said. "I'm thankful for the time I had there," Waters said, referring to Comedy Central. Still, as far as the end of his series, "... it bums me out," he added. 

At that point, Waters also mentioned he could return for a "Drunk History" special, as well as his excitement to work on whatever was next. Other facets of the show, such as its willingness to tell historical stories from typically underrepresented populations, were also covered. At the time, Waters also worked with "RepresentUs," a nonpartisan nonprofit organization seeking to make voting easier, among other initiatives.

Waters directed a Ben Folds music video

As news spread that "Drunk History" was no more, Derek Waters also shared his thoughts with Variety. He mentioned a new show he was working on with his production company, "Be Nice or Leave Productions." "I'm hoping to get that made when it's a little safer to film," Waters said, referring to the ongoing pandemic shutdown at that time. "I've learned a lot of lessons from 'Drunk History' and I'm ready to use them on new projects," he said. Exactly what that project was, however, is unclear.

Although no new TV or web-based series has emerged from Waters, the "Drunk History" creator did direct a 2023 music video for songwriter Ben Folds. The song, "Exhausting Lover," was the lead single off Folds' 2023 full-length album, "What Matters Most" (posted on YouTube). In a statement, Waters said, "I always have and always will love Ben Folds. But now I have a deeper appreciation for him knowing we shared similar experiences in a Motel 6 with a hot wheels track and dancers dressed as animals," he added, describing the theatrical content of the video (via Louisville Public Media).

Waters also appeared on Ben Folds' podcast

In 2021, Waters also appeared on Ben Folds' podcast, "Lightning Bugs: Conversations with Ben Folds," available on Apple Podcasts. In that chat, Folds mentioned Waters' work as Phil in the Apple+ series "Mythic Quest." With little news of another series written, created, or directed by Waters, Waters reflected on his most well-known show's legacy in 2020.

In that chat, Water said that people liked "Drunk History" because "something like that hadn't been made that way." Waters hoped more people would look at themselves "and know that what you do will be great even if it has never been done. What people like is something that stands out because it's different. But some people like more of the same. Not me," he added, offering some indication of what might be expected from him in the future. 

"Drunk History" is available on a number of streaming services. Versions of the show have also premiered internationally. For example, "Drunk History U.K." , based on Waters' concept, debuted in 2015 and ran for three seasons.