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'Drunk History' recap: What you hear is not a test

Season 2 | Episode 3 | “American Music” | Aired July 15, 2014

This week, Drunk History heads to the great city of American Music, which is not an actual city, because music doesn’t do borders. Music goes where the wind takes it. (And other things you might hear at Woodstock!) As social movements grew up around new types of sound, they carried people from small towns to big epicenters, and they met plenty of resistance along the way. What have we learned from these musical rebellions?

1. We will never be royals, but we can throw our own coronation.

Leo Mintz (Derek Waters) was a record store owner in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1950s. He noticed that the white kids who visited his store were dancing to the rhythm and blues records, but they weren’t buying them, so he decided to give them a little motivation. Mintz offered Alan Freed (Jack McBrayer), a DJ in Akron, a time slot on a major station in Cleveland, but there was a catch: He had to hype rhythm and blues. All of the kids thought they were so underground for listening to it, so Freed brought it into the sun and called it “rock and roll.” He put together a show called the Moondog Coronation Ball, widely considered to be the first rock-and-roll concert. Would it surprise you to learn that the first rock-and-roll concert was shut down by the Cleveland police due to rioting? Probably not.

JackMcBrayerDrunkHistoryFreed made it big after that. (“He was eventually wooed by the big town. And I’m talking about Mr. New, Mr. York and hello, City. I’m talking about New York City.”) It’s been said that the Beatles first heard rock and roll on Alan Freed’s show. His career ended, though, after he tried to badmouth cops who wanted to shut down a show in Boston. The tension led to stabbings, and Freed was let go. He left his adoring crowd of fans to the sound of Fats Domino’s “So Long,” promising them that rock and roll would never die. So has it? The comments section of absolutely any Internet article is still debating that; check back later.

2. Give a helicopter to a starving artist in your life.

Kris Kristofferson (Jon Daly) is a lot more than two names that start with the same four letters. He was also a Rhodes Scholar and a trained Army Ranger helicopter pilot. Kristofferson’s platoon commander knew someone in Nashville who worked for Johnny Cash (Johnny Knoxville), so Kristofferson found himself in the wings at Cash’s Grand Ole Opry performance, shaking hands with the man himself. Cash had so much energy as a performer that he inspired Kristofferson to quit the Army and move to Nashville, where he eventually found a job as a janitor at Columbia Records. His mother wasn’t a fan of this career path or of the fact that her son’s hero was a drug addict, so she disowned him in a letter. When Cash found out, he went to Kristofferson and struck up a friendship.

JonDalyDrunkHistoryThat was enough to persuade Kristofferson to go all-in as an artist, quitting his job to write music full-time. When he penned “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Kristofferson knew that he was onto something, so he landed in Cash’s yard in a helicopter to give him the song. (“Some fool’s landing in our yard with a helicopter right out of the sky!”) Cash identified with the tune and played it at a rehearsal for his variety show, but the censors objected to a line about being stoned. They suggested changing it to, “Wishin’ Lord that I was home,” but Cash sang “stoned” on live TV anyway, looking right at Kristofferson as he did. Everyone wanted to record the song after that, and Kristofferson’s career took off. Starving artists should take some comfort in this story, but not too much, because it requires having famous friends and knowing how to fly a helicopter.

3. The start of hip-hop was a lot like Dead Poets Society.

“Rapper’s Delight” came about in an era when disco was everywhere. R&B singer Sylvia Robinson (Retta) went to a party with her son in New York, where a rapper named DJ Kool Herc (Ron Funches) started rhyming over the beat. Robinson asked him to work with her, but Herc didn’t think that hip hop belonged on an album, and he turned her down. After other rappers said the same, Robinson went to her son for connections. He knew of someone. (“And he’s like, ‘Uhhh, well I know a rapping pizza guy?’”) The pizza guy’s name was Big Bank Hank (Da’Vone McDonald), and Robinson liked him. Hank brought in a couple of guys, and they went to Grandmaster Caz (Jaleel White) for some rhymes.

JaleelWhiteDrunkHistoryRobinson brought the three rappers to her mansion and got into mentoring them (“you know, like Dead Poets Society”). She combined their individual rhymes together in the structure of a song, complete with a chorus and a bridge, which were new in the hip-hop world. She named them the Sugarhill Gang, after an artists’ community in Harlem, and they sampled Chic’s “Good Times” for their beat. The gang recorded their 14-minute song in one take, and it took off, which upset a few people. Herc and Grandmaster Caz were upset to hear it called hip-hop, while Chic sued over the use of their music. You can’t create a whole genre of music without breaking a few guitars.

So while hip-hop’s first gang might have looked like a boys’ club, it never would have come together without Robinson in the driver’s seat. Retta absolutely killed it as the R&B singer; hers has been my favorite performance of the season so far. The enunciation! She wasn’t even speaking, but she was still enunciating. No one does wordless sass quite like Retta. Jack McBrayer also rocked his turn as rock and roll’s earliest DJ and occasional instigator of riots. (But they’re CUTE riots, right? It’s Jack McBrayer!)

What did you think of the performances? Learn anything new tonight? Are you already pulling together a playlist of every song they highlighted? Get to it!

Drunk History, rated TV-14, airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on Comedy Central.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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