If a failed lawyer can start a fried chicken empire at 65, you can make it through Wednesday. 

Mike Pomranz
July 25, 2018

In the comedy world, the term “branded content” often signifies jokes that are dead on arrival. Authentically funny comedy usually requires a bit of risk—and risk is something many major brands aren’t willing to take. One such risk would be putting the tale of your founder in the hands of a couple of drunk guys, but during last night’s episode of the Comedy Central series Drunk History, KFC sponsored a segment that gave Colonel Sanders the full drunk treatment, with Steve Agee (The Sarah Silverman Program, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) in the title role.

In many ways, this team-up between Drunk History and KFC actually makes plenty of sense—and not just because fried chicken makes for great drunk food. Back in 2015, KFC launched what became an ongoing ad campaign featuring a rotating cast of characters—mostly comedians—taking over the role of Colonel Sanders, with each performer adding their own bizarre spin to the chain’s real-life founder. Though ostensibly none of these people were drunk during their appearances, the commercials aren’t that far off from Drunk History’s approach of using random celebrities to play historical figures. Plus, getting back to that “great drunk food” thing, let’s be honest: KFC’s target demographic and the Drunk History audience probably have some overlap.

“We think it tells the story with a wink and a nod in way that people will be entertained,” Steve Kelly, director of media and digital for KFC U.S., told Adweek. “We’re not just taking advantage of their audience. It’s a win for both sides." 

Meanwhile, due to the negative connotation of branded content, comedians can also be wary of these sorts of projects. But Michelle Zoni, who works with Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom, explained why, in this case, the partnership made sense. “Drunk History, as a show, really believes in telling interesting, and in some cases, well-known and in other cases little-known stories from history in an entertaining and humorous way,” Zoni was quoted as saying. “We knew Drunk History was the perfect fit. And that’s not something we can say often given the nature of the show.”

Of course, whether you think the resulting two-and-a-half-minute ad is actually funny is up to you. It probably depends on how you feel about Drunk History—which has now been on Comedy Central for a somewhat remarkable five seasons—to begin with. That said, if Steve Agee was on your short list of comedians you’re upset haven’t gotten a chance to handle the Colonel Sanders role, this is the branded content of your dreams.