Someday historians might need barrels of alcohol to describe how awful 2016 has been, but one bright spot has been the meteoric rise of Lin-Manuel Miranda. The multitalented artist, who rose to the national spotlight with the success of his Broadway musical Hamilton, has been popping up everywhere; most recently, in the latest episode of Comedy Central's Drunk History.
Miranda joins host Derek Waters to talk about — guess who? — the complicated history of Alexander Hamilton, which is all the more mystifying as Miranda becomes increasingly inebriated. As is customary with Drunk History, Miranda gets the help of a star-studded comedic cast to re-enact the events, including Alia Shawkat as Hamilton and Aubrey Plaza as Aaron Burr — because why not?
Miranda, slurring just a bit, explains the parallels between Burr and Hamilton in U.S. history, with Burr's importance in the Revolutionary War (or, "Ahh, we're at war!" per Miranda), and Hamilton's insistence on being part of the battles. As Miranda says, Hamilton was confined to "secretary" work by George Washington (played here by Bokeem Woodbine), which he found frustrating.
"Hamilton's just sort of tugging on [Washington's] sleeve, being like, 'Can I fight?'" Miranda says. '"Can you just give me a bunch of dudes and I promise I'll be so good at this.'"
The real drama for Hamilton, however, comes after the war when he has an affair with Maria Reynolds. Hamilton, who was Treasury secretary at the time, got into further trouble when other government officials, including future President James Monroe (Tony Hale), learned about the affair through Reynolds' husband after he tried to accuse Hamilton of embezzling money. To set the record straight, Hamilton published the now-infamous Reynolds Pamphlet, a detailed 98-page refutation of the embezzlement accusation, along with tempestuous details about the affair.
"The whole thing reads like a Dear Penthouse letter," Miranda says. "Hamilton's like, 'I can give her money, or I could fuck her — and either one would be acceptable.' The Reynolds Pamphlet is like Dick 101."
At this point, Miranda's tale is interrupted by a text from Questlove, who somehow found out Miranda was doing Drunk History while he was filming it. This brief interruption later causes Miranda, sitting back down on the couch, to confide to the camera: "I want to order Domino's."
We don't know if he was successful in getting his pizza, but Miranda did eventually make it to the climactic end of Hamilton's tale: The ill-fated, "totally high school" duel with Burr. For anyone familiar with U.S. history (or the Hamilton musical, for that matter), Hamilton elects to fire his pistol into the air as he's shot by Burr, never intending to actually kill him. It's a twisted irony that Miranda eloquently describes, with a few expletives thrown in.
"Burr was never the monster," Miranda concludes. "Burr was the cautious motherfucker who never let his opinion be known, and Hamilton was the reckless motherfucker who let his opinion be known about everything. And in the one moment where it counted most, Hamilton was cautious and Burr was reckless — and that defined their legacies forever. It's fucked up."
For anyone who isn't willing to wait months for a ticket to the Broadway musical, Miranda's tipsy account of Hamilton's life will carry fewer songs, however, it's an absorbing ride through American history, and one of the best Drunk History's to date.