It’s early May, the fringe of summer, and Santa Clarita’s Blue Cloud Movie Ranch is bone dry. The sun bakes dusty hills littered with the twisted, burnt-out metal carcasses of cars, vans, trucks, and a helicopter that Clint Eastwood used to simulate war in Afghanistan a year earlier while filming American Sniper. But today the arid country feels a different kind of dry.
Drunk History, Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner’s Comedy Central series where an inebriated narrator tells a historical story, which famous actors then reenact and lip-synch along to, is using the pockmarked Afghan village set to tell the story of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s famous 1889-1890 race to circumnavigate the world faster than each other and Phileas Fogg, the protagonist in Jules Verne’s 1873 novel Around the World in 80 Days. Despite the show’s title, there is not a tequila shot or tallboy in sight. Other than the voice of comedian narrator Cameron Esposito, which booms out of speakers on a loop so Ellie Kemper, who’s playing Bly, can study her tipsy cadence, there’s nothing wobbly about the endeavor. (Natasha Leggero, who Konner recently directed on her Comedy Central show Another Period, is playing Bisland.) Esposito doesn’t sound completely sloshed, but she’s certainly enthusiastic about the story of the pioneering female journalist celebrities, and her frequent use of “like,” and the way “can you” becomes “c’you” in her mouth suggests she was at least several drinks deep during recording.
Kemper, somehow not fainting from heat exhaustion while dressed for the period in a black bodice, skirt, and petticoat, is preparing to shoot a scene at the New York World newspaper offices, where Bly attempts to get a green light from her editor, played by Drunk History ensemble player Tim Baltz, who explains that such a voyage is impossible for a woman because she’ll be weighed down by “curling irons, or a lot of trunks of stuff.”

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