On Tuesday Comedy Central’s Drunk History will turn it inebriated gaze on a bit of Star Trek history, telling the tale of Nichelle Nichols. The segment features comedian Ashley Nichole Black narrating a story about how Nichols was convinced to stay in her role as Uhura by Martin Luther King, TV’s first inter-racial kiss and Nichols work with NASA. You can watch the full segment and read our exclusive interview with creator and star Derek Waters.
Singer and actress Raven Symoné plays Nichelle Nichols, Jaleel White plays MLK, Craig Cackowski plays Gene Roddenberry and Waters plays William Shatner. Check out the clip below.
UPDATE: Full Drink History Segment
Interview: Derek Waters on bringing Star Trek to Drunk History
What gave you the idea to turn your attention to the history of Star Trek and Nichelle Nichols?
The genesis of any story is hearing something that sounds familiar, but told in a brand new way. So, hearing what Nichelle Nichols had done and how Martin Luther King inspired her to stay and the importance of her is just a great moment in history, not just Star Trek, that more people need to know about. And on top of that there is the first inter-racial kiss and recruiting astronauts like Mae Jemison. It’s one of those stories like “yeah, but did you know this? and did you know that?” How did I not know all of that?
Did you have a chance to talk to Nichelle about the episode?
I never met her, but I did send it to her and she said that she loved it and couldn’t stop laughing, so that is the seal of approval.
How was the narrator and cast picked for this episode?
With narrators I talk to them about something that is going on that they would really want to talk about and what kinds of stories are important to them. I talked to Ashley Nichole Black about what she knew about Nichelle Nichols and she said she loved Nichelle Nichols. She knew all of this stuff and she had the strongest reaction to I assigned it to her. And I love Raven and thought this would be the perfect part for her and luckily she said yes. And I thought it would be really cool to have Jaleel White as Martin Luther King and somehow it all happened.
What did you do to find your inner Shatner?
I don’t know. I normally wear that outfit so I was kind of being myself. I watched that episode over and over again. With these shows I never want to do an impression, it’s more about how I would have been in a scene.
You guys had to recreate part of the Star Trek set and get costumes together, was that a challenge?
You can’t use the trademark obviously, but we wanted to get as close to it as possible. That stuff is fun for me. It looks a bit off, but you can tell our hearts are in the right place. And that is what I want the show to be like. They are doing a history show, but it’s drunk, and their hearts are in the right place and they are trying their best to make it as authentic as possible.
Airs on Tuesday
Drunk History “Game Changers” airs on Comedy Central on Tuesday, February 6 at 10pm ET/PT. For more about the show or to watch full episodes and clips, visit cc.com.
I wish people would try to be historically accurate. Star Trek was ***not*** TV’s first interracial kiss. Despite the hype, there were several others before it.
When you have Roddenberry taking credit for this since the early 1970s over and over and over, then it’s kind of hard to correct that now.
Of course, how much did Roddenberry even have to do with this episode anyway? I haven’t read the third volume of Where No Man making of books yet, but thought that Roddenberry pretty much left the show by then.
As I recall, Freiberger reached out to Roddenberry for tips on how to get around some studio and network’s obstinate nonsense.
According to Memory Alpha:
Roddenberry was well aware of the letters in response to its airing.
It was the first scripted interracial kiss. The first was actually Sammy Davis, Jr. kissing Nancy Sinatra (daughter of his fellow Rat Packer Frank) on a TV special. I think we can agree those are very different situations.
Then it depends on interracial. If that means black/white then those two on US tv. But if it were to expand to white/Asian or white/Hispanic you get France Nuyen kissing Shatner or even earlier kissed Robert Culp. Shatner kissed Barbra Luna. And Lucy kissed Desi.
Luna and Arnaz are white. Latino is not a race, it simple means of Spanish decent in Americas.
Re: not a race
NBC of the 1960s wasn’t interested in appeasing a panel of scientists but those marvelous people of the land of my birth South of the Mason-Dixon Line who came up with “if your blood is only 1/32nd African then you are colored but if your blood is 1/32nd European then you are still NOT white.”
Characterizing it as merely a “1st interracial kiss” is definitely a misnomer as that was not what it was scripted to be, as that had already happened in the “Climax!” performance of the 1954 teleplay CASINO ROYALE featuring a “white” American James Bond kissing a “brown” Mexican actress portraying the 1st ever Bond “girl”, Valerie Mathis. Nichols/Shatner was a civil rights action/protest on the part of the two actors intended to break NBC’s Southern affiliates’, that NBC memos prove they intended to keep happy by appeasing, decree that a male white character not be shown to touch a black woman in any way on their airwaves that did not reveal that it inspired extreme revulsion and distaste in the male that his blessed white lips should touch dark female flesh, or they’d pull the feed either overtly or by one of many infamous coincidental “technical difficulties.” they had previously employed to that date.
It wasn’t the first interracial kiss on scripted TV. There were others beforehand.
And they were featured on…
CLIMAX! CASINO ROYALE 1954
It was the first interracial kiss on American television.
Nope. That’s just a myth.
Heck, it wasn’t even the first interracial kiss on Star Trek itself. That occurred in “Mirror, Mirror.”
I think “interracial kiss”, clearly a misnomer spread by parties at the time confused about what to call a very non-mythical protest action in line with other such civil rights measures taken by individuals in that decade, would be better characterized as a misidentification of an action inspired by the times. The kiss was originally scripted between two, what would be regarded by the racists as, non-white alien to the US characters. Shatner actively sought to change this and got it rewritten to include his whitebread American Kirk character. The newly paired actors in the scene then proceeded to actively and successfully scuttle the studio and the network’s attempts to have it filmed so as to appease particular NBC affiliates in America’s South helmed by racists and their presumed racist majority audiences.
That’s no myth; it’s history – as much history, as Dr. King personally requesting Nichols remain on STAR TREK to further the movement’s goals which their actions in PLATO’S STEPCHILDREN did, i.e. laid bare the absurdity of it all. A line, indeed, had been crossed that hadn’t been crossed prior – it’s just not one that can be easily summed up in 3 words like “1st interracial kiss.”
Foolish audience, especially in the so-called ‘Bible Belt.’ They’re the ones the suits worried about offending. Idiots.
What was the first black-white interracial kiss on a scripted program, if not The Star Trek?
It was the first for American television. A much bigger deal in the U.S. than in Europe.
No, it wasn’t.
I previously assumed the First Kiss claim was BS – but it looks like there’s some truth to it – no one has come forward with an earlier example of a white and black kiss on a scripted show (white and Latino/Asian much less of a big deal – can think of movies from the 1950s when that happens). There’s a bigger taboo between white and black, so Star Trek’s smooch was significant. (I keep waiting for someone to come forward with an obscure broadcast that predates it, though).
Not much to go on but I have a vague recollection that Bill Cosby’s character kissed a few white women in I,SPY?
And instantly the comment thread devolves into arguing…