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“We really wanted to take the platform, which is popular, it’s a recognized platform and use it as a model to celebrate these histories,” Harris told CNN. “You know we’re really raising a glass to folks who deserve to be acknowledged.”
The show is UK-based with international stars such as Scorcher, Zeze Millz, Leticia Hector, Lola Jagun, and Femi Oyeniran as re-enactors for stories narrated by the likes of Amma Asante, Jamali Maddix, Kevin ‘KG’ Garry & Travis Jay. But Harris has no concerns about the US audience being in on the joke.
“I think one of the great things about comedy is that folks come for one thing, which is to laugh, but if comedy is done well, they’ll leave with something else,” Harris said. “We really wanted to do that with this project.”
The show shines a spotlight on historical figures like Len Johnson, a UK boxer denied the chance to compete for a championship in Great Britain because of the color bar; the “Sons of Africa,” an 18th century abolitionist group in Britain that campaigned to end the African slave trade; and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who is considered by many to be the “Godmother of Rock N’ Roll” in the US.
Director Femi Oyeniran got to be involved both behind the camera and as a reenactor.
He told CNN it brought together Black creators and a mostly Black crew, which doesn’t often happen in the UK.
Oyeniran takes pride in being able to share Black British history with audiences around the world.
“I feel like, you know, part of the reason that African-Americans have struggled with the fact that Black British people exist with the same similar struggles as them is because we’ve never really portrayed what it means to be British globally,” he said. “To the average American, what it means to be British is the royal family, tea and crumpets, period dramas. It’s all of those things, but a lot of Black British people have never been parts of those journeys.”
“Drunk History: Black Stories” will show the world the kinship of those descended from Africans around the world, he said.
“We’re united in struggles, but also we’re also united in excellence,” Oyeniran said. “That’s what this project is.”
“Drunk History: Black Stories” will be available internationally on Comedy Central UK’s YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram platforms on Thursdays at 1:30pm EST/6:30pm GMT, beginning April 15.