Why These Drunk History Actors Look So Familiar

Drunk History is one of the most original ideas in TV history — while also feeling extremely familiar, if not relatable. Each episode, show creator Derek Waters hangs out in the private home of a comedian, actor, or celebrity, and then gets that person extremely intoxicated on their booze of choice. Then the cameras role as this inebriated, compromised individual relates a fascinating and little-known story about American or world history. The drunker they get, the more impassioned the storytelling. 

Everyone has heard a sauced friend try to tell a story, but Drunk History takes it a step farther. The show hires actors to re-enact the story told by the plastered performer, including every aside, drunken murmur, and emotional outburst. The end results are entertaining, educational, and sometimes even inspiring. Drunk History makes learning fun! Also, the show relies on a reliable stable of actors to bring these hammered tales to life. The same faces pop up week after week, and a lot of narrators are so good at the job that they keep coming back, too. Here are some of the most recognizable faces from both parts of the Drunk History formula, where else you may have seen them, and why they look so familiar.

Allan McLeod is an improv master

As one of Drunk History's most frequent participators, Allan McLeod has gotten drunk enough to entertain and educate the show's viewers on six different occasions. On the show's very first Comedy Central episode, he drunkenly explained the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (as portrayed by Stephen Merchant) and later covered both the supposed curse of Salem Witch Trials victim Giles Corey and the plight of Phineas Gage (Steve Agee), a railroad worker who survived after an iron rod got stuck in his head.

The soft-spoken, friendly McLeod works elsewhere as a character actor, appearing in improv-driven works like the TV version of Comedy Bang! Bang! and video productions of the Upright Citizens Brigade. He's often cast as goofy guys and geeks, best exemplified by his role as the oblivious and wealthy weirdo Paul Jillian in nearly every episode of FX's black romantic comedy You're the Worst. He also popped up in a few episodes of Parks and Recreation as Pawnee reporter Trodd Frankensteip.

Eric Edelstein can be an imposing presence

Eric Edelstein has appeared on Drunk History in every possible capacity. As a narrator, he's related the stories of the famous photo of Elvis Presley's meeting with President Richard Nixon, the unique rise of Kris Kristofferson, and the relationship between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. He's also acted as a historical figure, portraying both baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. He even guest-hosted, filling in for Derek Waters to help another narrator tell a story about Alcatraz. 

And no, Edelstein doesn't play Sheriff Hopper from Stranger Things. He bears a strong resemblance to that actor, David Harbour, while carving out a similar career as a go-to character guy for when a role requires a slightly imposing presence. That's him as "Paddock Supervisor" in Jurassic World, Bobby Mallison on Shameless, and Detective Smiley Fusco on the Twin Peaks revival. Edelstein can be heard, if not seen, on a couple of Cartoon Network staples. He voices main character Grizzly on We Bare Bears, as well as dimwitted Chad on Clarence.

Amber Ruffin spends a lot of time behind the scenes

While a hilarious and charismatic performer, Amber Ruffin is first and foremost a writer. She penned material for Comedy Central's Detroiters (where she also appeared on-screen) and HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show while holding down her full-time job as a staff writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers. She's also a frequent performer on that NBC talk show, starring in the recurring segments "Amber Says What" and "Jokes Seth Can't Tell." In 2020, she's set to host her own series on NBC's streaming service Peacock called The Amber Ruffin Show.

While on her way to dominating television comedy, Ruffin made a few stops at Drunk History, knocking back a few adult beverages to tell the tales of Civil Rights Movement pioneer Claudette Colvin and Red Cross founder Clara Barton. She also portrayed Barbara Cooke, wife of Sam Cooke in a segment about the creation of "A Change is Gonna Come."

Paget Brewster starred on a super famous sitcom

Paget Brewster has appeared numerous times on Drunk History, and on both sides of the well-stocked liquor cabinet at that. As a narrator, she's educated readers about the lives of the Kellogg brothers, security expert Allan Pinkerton, and Eleanor Roosevelt. She's also taken on the role of historical reenactor, portraying Emma Folsom (mother of First Lady Frances Cleveland) and superhero nurse Florence Nightingale. 

Brewster has been a constant presence on television for more than 20 years, with lead roles on everything from wacky comedies to deadly serious dramas. Off and on, for over a decade, she's portrayed BAU Unit Chief Emily Prentiss on CBS's unnerving procedural crime drama Criminal Minds. During that time, she moonlighted on what's arguably the polar opposite of Criminal Minds — Comedy Central's turn-of-the-century-set reality show send-up Another Period. Under heavy makeup and unflattering glasses, Brewster portrayed moneyed, morphine-addicted matriarch Dodo Bellacourt. 

Apart from those two recent roles, Brewster will probably always be best known for a small but pivotal part on one of the most popular TV shows of all time. In the fourth season of Friends, she played Kathy, the only woman to ever seriously come between Chandler and Joey.

David Wain is a key figure in modern comedy

It's not an exaggeration to call David Wain an architect of modern comedy. Wain got his start as a member of The State, the sketch troupe with its own popular MTV series in the early '90s. Honing his comedic chops and sensibilities there, Wain went on to perform a combination of creating, writing, directing, as well as appearing in some of the most beloved funny projects of all time.

He co-wrote and directed Wet Hot American Summer, as well as its two Netflix spinoff series, Ten Years Later and First Day of Camp, and he popped up as sexy Israeli guy Yaron (and Bill Clinton). Wain developed and appeared on the Adult Swim series Children's Hospital and its spinoff, Newsreaders, too. He stayed mostly behind the camera for writing/directing efforts like They Came Together and Wanderlust, but he co-starred on Another Period as Albert Downsy Jr., and he has a recurring voice role on Bob's Burgers as tween girl Courtney. 

Besides that, his most notable on-screen work came on Drunk History, narrating the story of rock n' roll popularizer Alan Freed and portraying Julius Caesar, as well as Thomas Jefferson in Lin-Manuel Miranda's boozy, non-musical version of Hamilton.

Rich Fulcher is one of Drunk History's most recognizable actors

Rich Fulcher is an icon to self-proclaimed comedy nerds. That status may partially stem from his wild, whimsical, and extra-inebriated performances on the best history show Ken Burns didn't create. He's worked through the booze to talk about Abraham Lincoln, chess master Bobby Fischer, the mathematically gifted horse Clever Hans, and Mary Shelly's creation of Frankenstein. Plus, Fulcher sobered up to portray everyone from country singer Porter Wagoner to Franklin D. Roosevelt to Salem Witch Trial victim Giles Corey. 

But before all of that, Fulcher was a familiar and welcome presence in all sorts of cool, edgy, and surreal sketch comedy shows imported from England, such as Snuff Box, Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy, and, most of all, The Mighty Boosh. (On that bizarro series, Fulcher played woefully incompetent zookeeper Bob Fossil.) Stateside, Fulcher has shown up on series like Review, The Sarah Silverman Show, and in a gig not unlike his Drunk History work, as Mark Twain on Another Period. Fulcher books a lot of voice work, too, and he can be heard on Rick and Morty, Disenchantment, and Adventure Time.

Mort Burke is a familiar face in the world of comedy

While he's popped up in dozens of TV shows and web series over the past decade and change, Mort Burke's face is likely most familiar because of his work on Drunk History. He's a vital part of the show's troupe of hilarious historical reenactors and lip-synch masters. As of 2019, Burke has featured in more than 60 of Drunk History's 70 episodes, and he's usually playing multiple characters in each of them, spanning hundreds of years in just 22 minutes. (He's got range.) 

When he's not pretending to be actual people from long ago, Burke plays fictional people from the present day. He scored small, one-shot roles on series such as Lady Dynamite, Workaholics, Bunheads, and W/ Bob and David. He's likely most recognizable from his seven episodes as office intern Parker early in the run of The Mindy Project, or you might know him from Enlisted, where Burke had a main role on that acclaimed but short-lived Fox military comedy as Private Gumble.

Tymberlee Hill has popped up on multiple TV shows

With appearances on 17 episodes of Drunk History over the years, Tymberlee Hill is among the show's most reliable, if not constant, comic performers who can somehow take the drunken ramblings of other comedians and turn them into a wonderful historical reenactments. Not only a stock player, Hill portrayed Motown legend Diana Ross in one installment, and she got to saddle up to the bar and get wasted while she told the story of how Marilyn Manson helped Ella Fitzgerald become famous.

While Hill is clearly at home in comedy, she got her start — and plenty of exposure — in network TV dramas. Her first major role was the intern Claire on more than a dozen episodes of Grey's Anatomy. She's also enjoyed regular roles on NBC's one-season wonder Marry Me, and she's appeared as Phe Phe Reed in the Real Housewives send-ups The Hotwives of Las Vegas and The Hotwives of Orlando. As of fall 2019, Hill is a member of the cast of NBC's church choir comedy Perfect Harmony.

Tim Baltz was a big star on a defunct streaming service

A major figure in the early season of Drunk History, Tim Baltz showed up on 20 episodes of Drunk History, portraying various background and supporting historical figures in the show's re-creations of important moments throughout time.

Shortly after he left the series, Baltz became a big fish in a small pond. The actor was all over the original programming on the comedy streaming service Seeso, portraying Glenn Bouchard on the real estate reality show parody Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ and playing the lead role of Dr. David Tracy on Shrink. Co-created by Baltz, Shrink found Baltz as a wannabe therapist who sees odd patients for free in his parents' garage. Unfortunately, Seeso no longer exists, but Baltz is a common figure on comedy television, appearing in small roles on Veep, Parks and Recreation, Superstore, and Fresh Off the Boat. 

Baltz also served as a correspondent for the one and only season of Comedy Central's The Daily Show companion series, The Opposition with Jordan Klepper. He then landed a major role in the supporting cast of HBO's The Righteous Gemstones. In that saga about a dysfunctional family of criminal-leaning evangelists, he plays the earnest and innocent B.J., finance to Judy Gemstone.

Aasha Davis has been on most episodes of Drunk History

Another prolific Drunk History historical reenactor, Aasha Davis has helped to make history come to (drunken and chaotic) life in more than 50 episodes of the Comedy Central series. One of her most prominent roles was Motown Records etiquette coordinator Maxine Powell.

Powell landed at Drunk History after well over ten years of paying her dues and building a resume with small roles in dozens of major TV series in the 2000s. Viewers might remember her for a couple of appearances as a Yale classmate of Rory Gilmore's on Gilmore Girls or for her work on The Shield, ER, House, Castle, Criminal Minds, and Bones. Davis appeared on two particularly intense 2007 episodes of Grey's Anatomy as Rina, birth mother of the twins adopted by Joe, barkeep at the establishment across the street from Seattle Grace Hospital. But Davis's most prominent performance that doesn't involve drunk comedians was playing Smash Williams' girlfriend Waverly Grady in the first season of the beloved drama Friday Night Lights.

Sarah Burns excels at playing funny villains

No, that wasn't really Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's wife you saw on TV, leading a seance to help Harry Houdini contact his dead mother. Well, not if you were watching Drunk History, at least. That long-ago spiritualist was portrayed by character actor Sarah Burns in one of her eight Drunk History appearances as a historical reenactor.

Burns found a particular niche playing minor antagonists in comedic movies and TV shows. That's her as judgmental officer worker Krista on Enlightened and as a Child Protective Services worker in Life as We Know It. She's also enjoyed prominent roles on American Vandal and Barry, and she was part of the main cast for FX's short-lived Married. While a pro at comedy, audiences are likely more familiar with Burns for her work in more serious endeavors. On How to Get Away with Murder, she played tricky prosecutor Emily Sinclair, and she also portrayed busybody Gabrielle in the first season of Big Little Lies.

Craig Cackowski is the king of Drunk History

A veteran of the Los Angeles improv and theatrical comedy scene, Craig Cackowski is well-suited to the zany antics of portraying dozens of historical figures on Drunk History. He's been featured on every single episode of the series, and while he usually plays bit parts, he's frequently been elevated to a starring role in a re-creation, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt in a World War II-themed installment and Richard Nixon in a National Parks bit.

Plugged in as he is to the business of making funny things in L.A., Cackowski is the classic "that guy" actor, easily recognizable from dozens of things but rarely for one thing in particular. Perhaps viewers know him as Todd the janitor on Bajillion Dollar Propertie$. Maybe you recognize him as Officer Cackowski from Community or Mason the annoyed sommelier in Wine Country. It's possible you've realized that he's incompetent assistant Cliff on Veep. Or maybe Drunk History viewers have spotted him in his one-time roles on popular shows like Workaholics, How I Met Your Mother, Arrested Development, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The list goes on and on.