'History of Alcohol' stumbles through time, from ancient Greece to a trashy night in the North Loop

Chris Garborg

Chris Garborg

Everyone has an epic drinking story.

“The greatest drinking story ever told is your own,” says Josh Carson. Carson, who is the creative mind behind the annual yuletide A Very Die Hard Christmas, is putting that theory to the test with a new show opening this weekend at Brave New Workshop’s Experimental Thinking Centre.

The (Almost) Complete and (Mostly) Accurate History of Alcohol is a collection of sketches that tells a slightly exaggerated version of how alcohol has been the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.

“It’s not just about alcohol, but how society reacts to alcohol,” Carson explains. “We talk about ancient Greece, when young men were expected to hold their booze as kind of a sign of manhood. We go through the first drinking Olympics. Really just every drinking trope possible.”

This isn’t Carson’s first entry into the world of -- as he calls them -- “hysterical historicals.” Last summer, he and writing partner Andy Kraft (who is also his partner in the new production) produced a play about the Wright Brothers for the annual Fringe Festival, and have explored the perspective of John Wilkes Booth.

But when it came time to brainstorm this latest show, Carson says he and his co-stars kept coming back to a recurring theme. “Alcohol was the one thing we all had in common,” he laughs. “Whether it’s drinking Boone’s Farm when you’re 15 or whatever, we could all connect with each other’s stories.”

The rest of the cast is made of up Carson and Kraft’s fellow Brave New Workshop alumni, making this a big-stage crew performing in the smaller, more intimate space of the Experimental Thinking Centre.

“[Brave New Workshop] have been looking for new shows to fill that space,” he explains of their home for the next several weeks. “Minnesota Tonight and a few other shows have been really great, regular productions, so when they asked if we were interested we jumped at the chance.”

Much like his annual Die Hard show, which follows the same story but is always getting updated based on current events and local flavor, Carson says that there’s a good chance that anyone who attends opening night will be seeing a unique show compared to those who come for the final curtain.

“We’re embracing the essence of sketch comedy, which is that you’re writing right up until show time,” he says.

Whether you’re a wine-bar aficionado, a craft-beer snob, or you’ve got a mainline full of Fireball going through you veins, Carson says that the audience is likely to see a little of themselves in some of the characters.

“We do the legend of Bloody Mary, where if you turn off the lights and say her name three times she appears and kills you,” he explains. “Except in our version it’s just a woman who drinks unlimited Bloody Marys and loves brunch in the North Loop.”

From belly laughs to liver failure, this is the only show this spring that’s basically guaranteed to cause organ damage. But the fun kind!


The (Almost) Complete and (Mostly) Accurate History of Alcohol

Brave New Workshop
7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, April 6-28