An Evening with Derek Waters at SFIFF


Some would say that Derek Waters is a man with an idea. And, that idea is to get people inebriated and then ask them to recount an historical event.

But there’s so much more than that. He is a writer, actor, comedian, and film producer, and this Saturday, he will make his third appearance at the San Francisco International Film Festival in as many years.

Two years ago, he presented a number of short film works that he was in or created, including several episodes of his popular web series that was recently picked up to air on Comedy Central in July, Drunk History. He also showed a couple of episodes of the work he made with Simon Helberg, such as the unforgettably hilarious The Pity Card, which features Helberg using a young woman’s new-found knowledge of the Holocaust to get dates and Derek’s attempts to weasel his way into a relationship with her friends. Last year, Waters came back to the festival as the producer of the sleeper favorite documentary feature Only the Young. Following the lives of two skateboarding, evangelical Christian pals as they complete their senior year of high school, the film is undeniably winning, positive, and a breath of fresh air for anyone who feels oversaturated with images of youth gone awry.

The film shares one of Waters’s most striking qualities: that he is also relentlessly positive without putting on blinders to the sometimes-unfortunate realities of our shared world. Waters exudes positivity. He is the kind of person that goes out and does things. He makes work. He finishes it. He pursues ideas. He galvanizes others. Who else could convince Jack Black, Eva Mendes, Don Cheadle, Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Winona Ryder, Crispin Glover, and on and on to reenact drunken storytelling verbatim, really just for the fun of it? And, luckily for us, he is also insightful and funny.

This year, Waters will present a sneak preview of his new series, and also discuss and show work representing one of his favorite obsessions, the double-edged plight of social media immersion. A few years ago, Waters created the “Instagrammys,” an awards show that celebrates the incessantly bizarre quality of posting photos to wherever it is that such photos go. In pursuit of unpacking it all this Saturday night will be Natasha Leggero, a comedian who, in her own right, has a bone or two to pick with the way people present themselves online and in life. The two may have tiny axes to grind, but don’t be confused—this is a program of comedic shorts and standup comedy.

“Inside the Drunken Mind of Derek Waters” will be presented on Saturday, April 27 at 9:15 pm at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. For tickets, click here.

And keep an eye out for The Rumpus’s upcoming interview with Derek Waters!

Sean Uyehara is a programmer with the San Francisco Film Society. He watches movies for a living, and still sometimes complains about things. More from this author →