Drunk History

The most bizarre Quaker art I have ever encountered appeared on Comedy drunkhistory_marydyerCentral’s Drunk History.

In the Drunk History episode “Mary Dyer”, a weeping, drunken woman told the story of Mary Dyer’s hanging in Boston in 1660. She recounted it in a slangy, obscenity-laced rant. The screen shifted back and forth between the woman and an actor playing Dyer. When the camera was focused on Dyer, she lip-synched the woman’s words. Her response to an on-looker horrified at her execution, for example: “That’s your problem, being a sick (blank)”.

Drunk History was created by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner. It first appeared as a web series. People who are actually intoxicated tell little-known stories from history. In “Mary Dyer” Jen Kirkman, a comedian, is the drunken narrator; Winona Ryder is Dyer.

Initially I was appalled by “Mary Dyer”. The narrator seemed to be acting drunk and making fun of Dyer. After I learned she really was inebriated, I was mystified. I felt oddly moved by Kirkman’s genuine emotion and pain at Dyer’s death, finally. A strange little film. Very dark humor.

July 2015

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