My guest today is comedian Bert ‘The Machine’ Kreischer. Talking to Bert in his third week of ‘Sober October’ we get into all things training, drinking on planes, work, relationships, fatherhood, and what it’s like to have the type of success that you didn’t expect and can only dream of. The host of multiple podcasts, touring right now on the ‘Berty Boy’ tour, and Netflix specials, Bert seems to just be getting started and is full of hidden talents. Rogan is even surprised at Kreischer’s unusual athleticism and eye-hand coordination. Enjoy!
Listen to the episode here:
- Joe and Bert [00:02:15]
- Bert’s Craft [00:10:52]
- Bert’s Theater Run [00:22:21]
- Bert and LeeAnn [00:26:39]
- The Storyteller [00:29:17]
- Developing the Discipline [00:36:36]
- Making It Relatable [00:39:50]
- Working Out [00:43:23]
- Who Makes Bert Laugh? [00:47:14]
- Getting Everything Done [00:50:17]
- Credit to LeeAnn [00:54:46]
- Analysis Paralysis [01:01:28]
- Bret’s Micromanaging Parenting [01:04:14]
- Not Unloved [01:20:44]
- Reading the Podcast’s Feedback [01:23:38]
- Recalibrating [01:27:22]
Comedian Bert Kreischer | Achieving Success Later in Life, The Wildly Disciplined Party Animal Who Does Not Stop Dreaming
Welcome to the show. My guest today is, the comedian, Bert Kreischer. Bert and I went to the same university, Florida State University. We met mostly because of that. I wanted to talk to Bert because he was still in Sober October. As you know, he, Joe Rogan, Tom Segura, and Ari Shaffir go into Sober October. Collectively, they do it for Bert because somehow Bert can go the hardest. His friends worry about him. He also seems to be wildly disciplined and loves to train.
Joe Rogan tells me stories about his unusual athleticism and eye-hand coordination. It’s everyone getting around Bert once a year to say, “Can we hit the reset?” He’s busy. He’s crushing it. He’s touring. He has multiple podcasts. He’s on the Berty Boy Tour. He’s got stand-up shows on Netflix. He and his wife, LeeAnn, are running their business merchandise. They have two beautiful daughters. I am inspired by Bert for many reasons, one is he’s a lover. He’s a kind and loving human being.
There’s something secretly inspiring that even though he’s been at it a long time and done well, his late success in his 40s is a great reminder to all of us that if you keep at it, you’ll keep learning. You will learn about how he breaks down and how he does his Netflix special. This is not somebody who’s not paying attention and learning and implementing those lessons to support their success. I was only supposed to have an hour with him. He was kind enough to give me a bit longer. For a feel-good conversation with some look behind the scenes, I hope you enjoy my conversation with Bert Kreischer.
It’s interesting that you were never in a sorority.
I would not be in a sorority.
You wouldn’t, now knowing you. When we knew you when we were kids, every movie that they made about the hot chick was you. Every movie about the hot chick was the head of the sorority. Now knowing who you are, you weren’t built for that.
It’s more about like a sports family. When I was coming here to talk to you, I was thinking about your crew, it’s more extended but the crew that everybody knows about with Tom, Joe, Ari, and all these guys. In a way, it was funny because you’re all individuals and you all have an individual style but you’re a team. From the outside, it feels what is great about a team. Someone calls you on your BS or, “You can do it.”
It’s an interesting team because we are different. Joe is a hardcore alpha, to the tee. I am Mock beta. I am I’ve never liked people to know all the cards I have. I don’t mind being foolish. If everyone’s laughing and I’m laughing, it doesn’t hurt my feelings. If you want to call me fat, you can call me fat. It doesn’t hurt my feelings. I go, “Okay. Sure, whatever.” Mock beta, I love screwing with a true alpha. When you play tug of war with a wolf, sometimes the wolf doesn’t know if you’re playing or not.
You’re on your back screwing with them.
It’s jujitsu, it’s pulling guard. It’s like, “Come and get me.” Tom is quiet and almost the soul because he communicates with everyone independently and talks to everyone. Ari loves chaos.
It feels like that.
He loves chaos, which is offsetting at times when he drugs you or whatever. It’s an interesting group. I often think of the sliding doors of life. Joe and I would not be friends if Tom hadn’t ignored Charlie Murphy one night and stayed back to talk to Joe. Tom introduced me to Joe. Joe’s one of the better things that have ever happened in my life on many levels career-wise. Friend-wise, I hadn’t made any friends. I gave up on friends.
When I met Joe, I was like, “I’ll know you at the clubs but I won’t be your friend.” Joe pulled me aside one night with a shot of whiskey and Heineken. I was about to go on stage and he goes, “You’re a good guy.” I was like, “Yeah.” He was like, “We’re trying to be your friend.” I was like, “Okay.” I thought that was the most unnerving thing to try to be someone’s friend. I was like, “Don’t. I have a wife. I’ve got kids. I’m good.”
He was like, “You got to let us be your friend. You got to let us in. We’re all trying to be your friend and you just won’t.” Joe Rogan was like, “We’re not going to hurt you. We’ll be your friend. You can talk to us.” I made the decision that night, took a shot, and got on stage. I was high. I said, “I’m going to return his calls when he calls. I’ll return his texts. If he calls, I’ll answer.” I didn’t do it. If people call, I blow it up.
Is that skittish? I understand that it’s a tricky business, the comedy thing. Is that like, “I have my wife and I’m going to lock that down. I’m skittish from this whole scene.” Where does that come from?
If you are famous and successful, there’s something wrong with you inherently. You were a sociopath. I didn’t think you’d meet a normal, successful, and famous person. I remember meeting Redban, Joe’s sidekick, for a long time. Redban hates it when I say that. For a long time, he was. We were having a drink and I said, “What’s the deal with Joe? What’s wrong with him? Is he gay?” He was like, “What?” I go, “He seems too good to be true. What’s the thing?” Everyone had a thing.
That was such a predatory Hollywood. I’m sure you noticed coming out of Florida, going up to model in New York, and everyone’s like, “You’re great.” You’re like, “This guy’s awesome.” He’s got his and your leg and you’re like, “I knew there was something.” My naivete about this business is everyone had something and I was waiting for Joe’s thing to rear its head and it never did. Honesty is his thing. He’ll sexually assault you with honesty. He says things you don’t want to hear that you’re like, “Jesus Christ, man. I get it, I drink too much. Shut up. No one says that out loud.”
On the air. Can you take it back? I live with somebody who’s brutally honest. Can you say it back to him too? I’m curious.
He won’t hear it immediately.
I’ll give you an example, Laird. He’s rebellious. Let’s say it could be a percentage of something or a fact. It’s like, “It wasn’t Georgia. It was Mississippi.” Let’s say that I say, “That was Mississippi, right?” We’ve had this discussion, it’s gotten maybe almost thicker as we’ve been together longer. He’ll be like, “I don’t appreciate it when you reprimand me.” I go, “I didn’t reprimand you. I said it’s a different fact.” Here’s somebody who’s so brutally honest and loving. I can personally say to him, “Maybe you were a little tough on that daughter,” or, “You seem a little sad right now. Are you okay?” He can take that. For certain other things, it’s like, “No.”
Last time, I was with Joe. I’m always protective of talking about Joe. As long as I’ve known him, there are also things I don’t mind apologizing for in person. I will see him on November 1st, 2022. I saw him and we started the podcast. I was like, “What’s up a Stanhope over here?” Joe Rogan has always hated cigarettes. One thing you can guarantee on his tombstone is, “Do not smoke.” There will be a no-smoking sign on his tombstone. Joey Diaz smoked. Tom smoked. Stanhope smokes. You weren’t allowed to smoke in his podcast studio.
Cigars are fine. We’re in the green room and he has a cigarette. I’m like, “Huh.” I’ve seen him have a cigarette before and I go, “What the hell?” He has a vape pen on him. I noticed that when we did the podcast, he was smoking a cigarette, and was hitting his vape pen pretty aggressively throughout the thing, which is the Joe I know.
We get on the podcast and I go, “What happened to you?” You can see Joe go, “What are you talking about?” I go, “You’re smoking like a goddamn chimney.” He was hitting it nonstop. I’m sure it’s like Laird, defensive, “What are you talking about? I’m healthy. I work out. I’m jacked. This is what I do. It’s a cognitive stimulant. This is how I start my brain. I need something. We’re not drinking. We’re not smoking. I’m going Roger Waters tonight. What the hell?”
[bctt tweet=”A man has always drawn inspiration from men that do.”]
Two weeks later, I got a text, “I quit the vape pen.” You can plant the seed with him because he’s your friend and you can be honest with him. If you’re going to be honest with him, you better love him enough to know you’re going to get a little blowback sometimes. For the most part, privately, you call him on the phone and you can talk to him about anything. He’s a receptive and loving dude.
Let’s talk about you.
It’s better to talk about Rogan. Will get better ratings.
He has his own ratings. I’m not worried about ratings. First of all, I want to talk about your art and your craft because now you’ve reached this level. You’re not surprised, are you?
Did you have the dream? Did you have the instincts? Did you feel it inside?
I’m as surprised that I own a house as I am that I’m successful. I didn’t think I’d ever own a house. I would see people that had houses and I’d be like, “How does someone hold on to $100,000? How do you amass $200,000 to put it down? Where do you get that money from?” I would look at people and I would be so amazed. “I was like, “You have a regular job. How many months do you have to save up? Did your parents give this to you?” I couldn’t understand how people did that.
For me, I got lucky. I had a TV show and we got renewed and I signed the deal with the network. All of sudden, we had cash where we’d go, “We can put a down payment.” I was befuddled that someone could buy a house. It blows my mind. Equally, I could not figure out the recipe for success. I would watch people be confident and not give a fuck. I gave a lot of fuck. I cared if my stand-up was good. I would go into auditions and I wanted it. One day, it started happening but it happened organically. It’s almost like someone that would say they got addicted to heroin. They’re like, “It was so crazy. We were smoking it first and now were just shooting it.”
When you say it happened organically, was there something different inside of you? It does take time to develop this craft. Was it that you had enough time under your belt and you have put it together enough that that was built out? Did you do something different?
I did something different. I believed the system was going to help me. I believe that by doing comedy clubs, you had a massive fan base in those cities. You can go back and slowly you’d make more money each time you went back. Those people would become followers and they’d be fans. You’d be like, “Omaha,” and they’d be like, “I love Bert.” That is not real. That’s never going to be real.
To have someone that’s willing to work one full day to spend that money that they’ve earned after taxes on an evening with you, it’s got to be more than you showing up to their city once a year. You got to be there for them every week almost. I was working on Travel Channel and I thought I’d get that through the Travel Channel. It didn’t happen. I never got a fan on Travel Channel.
Travel Channel wasn’t a whole representation of you.
It wasn’t even remotely.
Maybe it was bringing a little visibility. It’s also understanding when people could see you.
I would look at Adam Richmond, Andrew Zimmern, or Anthony Bourdain and they were all doing shows that were a version of themselves and I was doing a version like a plug and play of like, “We need this guy to get on a roller coaster or take these people on a vacation.” I got let go from Travel Channel. I had this mentality, eat shit and cash checks. If you want me to come in early for the radio, I’ll come in early for the radio. If you need me to do a show in Hawaii with Gooch, I’ll fly out and I’ll do a show with Gooch.
You’ll do the extra.
I’ll do the extra and I’ll do the hard work, it’ll pay off one day. I got let go from Travel Channel. I got pulled off a Funny or Die tour, which I was supposed to do with Tom and Joey. For any reason, they were like, “He’s nobody. It’s $2,000 extra a week we can save to put towards their hotels,” which was heartbreaking. LeeAnn was redoing our old house. She wanted me to get a vasectomy. All these things were happening at once.
You slip that in. She was redoing the house and she wanted you to get a vasectomy.
All within this one week.
You were travel money for the boys.
I got let go of this tour. In the morning, I’m at my workout on the treadmill, and Tom’s also fat shaming me at the time. We’re going to do Rogan, which is a big weight loss competition. The loser gets his beard shaved off. I can’t stop drinking. I’m still drinking. I have so much stress. I’m like, “I don’t know how to calm down at the end of the night.” I’m doing my morning workout, I get pulled off the tour. I’m sitting there talking to Tom and Tom goes, “It’s a lot of money that you’re going to miss out on.” I go, “It’s $2,000 a weekend.”
He was getting paid.
He was getting paid $20,000 a show. I realized I had an acute reality of where I was in the business, a keen insight into how people saw me. It was real and I couldn’t deny it. My best friend was getting $18,000 more than me.
Ten times your money. Let’s look at that for a second. I also think if you continue and you make it to the continued level that you have. There’s also this thing where you’re like, “Is it possible?” I’ve had different experiences like that myself. You can still be objective about that.
I had to make a decision.
You didn’t go, “I’m not good.” I’m bringing that up because it’s important for people sometimes to realize it’s a chess board you’re playing and you go, “Okay.”
I had been working all pawns and Tom was doing rook to the knight. He was working his king and his queen fearlessly. I have to give Tom credit for that. They would offer him the Omaha Funny Bone and he’d go, “Ehh.” I’ll do a Rock venue for one night. I’ll make the same money you’ll make on the weekend. It’s not a lot but I’ll dial in on these fans.” I was playing rooks. I work for Travel Channel, I’ll do this, and I’ll do that. When Tom told me how much he made, I had to make a real decision, “Can I hear this number? Can I still be his friend? Can this motivate me?”
I remember how I was sitting because I had the phone on my desk and I was down. I was like, “Tell me.” He told me and I’m like, “Wow.” I finished my workout. I have a vasectomy planned for that day. I walked through the rubble of our house. I go for a walk and I get a call from Travel Channel, “Thank God, they’re going to renew my contract. I don’t have to worry about that money Tom’s making. I’m getting good money on Travel Channel.” I’m like, “Hello.” The lady goes, “Bert, I want to let you know we’re not going to renew your contract.” It was so quick. Have you ever seen the guy that gets broken up with it and he’s like, “Hold on, I still have your clothes. What about your CDs?”
She was on the next call. I had a deal at NBC to do a sitcom and I was ignoring it because I was focused on the weight loss challenge. I went back to LeeAnn and I’m like, “I’m not getting a vasectomy today. There’s too much change. I can’t have this much change.” The next morning, I woke up and I took all the things I learned at Travel Channel, all the things I learned about editing, shooting, and all these things. I was like, “I’m going to do my own thing.”
That morning, I edited a video of me doing my morning routine. It was me talking to the camera and I was hosting stuff, which I was always good at. A lot of people would ask me, “Bert, how do you get up and get on the treadmill?” “It starts with a song.” I hit Creedence Clearwater Revival, “I wake up in the morning.” I edited it so that it wasn’t that long of an intro and I got myself onto the treadmill.
I started, “Let the midnight special shine a light on me.” It picks up and I start my run and I go, “This is how I get after Tommy.” It was a call-out video to Tom. I posted it that morning, Rogan called me at 12:00, and he goes, “That is awesome. How did you do that? What song is that? That is cool. Do more of that. That was fun to watch.” All I needed to hear was that. With comedy, all you need is one person to go, “I love that joke. I love that thing you do.” I was like, “Done.”
The next week, I did a video of me going to CrossFit. I set a line in there. I did CrossFit in the morning and I’m going back to the gym. That’s called two-a-days. For you guys that didn’t get posted in high school, that is what we football players didn’t get asked. The Rock retweeted it. The Rock was like, “This is hilarious.”
You love The Rock.
All of a sudden, people and comments were hitting me up, “How are you shooting these? What are you using to shoot these?” I bought some cameras when I was bored on Travel Channel. I was shooting on the side of Travel Channel and editing it and posting it. I had all these skillsets. All of a sudden, my videos are popping off. They’re like, “Can you do a video to promote something?” I was like, “Yeah, sure.” I shot a video and then, that weekend, it sold out. I was like, “Huh?”
My Machine story went viral. The second it went viral, I took everything I was doing. All of a sudden, people are finding me and they’re like, “Who is this guy?” I’ve got four months of cool content and good music. I’m promoting shows and they’re like, “Let’s see him in New Jersey.” I got to give it to my friends, Bill and Joe. Right before I got fired, they were like, “Your TV show sucks.”
Bill Burr and Joe Rogan were like, “Your TV show sucks. You need to be focusing on your podcast.” Tom and Joe helped me get my podcast to get money. I remember I got sponsorship and they gave me five reads for a podcast and I read them. I was doing everything myself. I did it. I got online and I looked at how much I was making per read and I went, “I made more than I made on Travel Channel.”
All of a sudden, the world opened up. I started looking at what I was making on the road. What I was making on the podcast, I was like, “I can pay for the house. I can pay for everything. I’m good for the year.” I started looking at my year and everything was already sold out. I put all the things online and everything was sold out.
I started making these posters to promote shows. It’s the little things you do. I make these posters, I pay $100 to get the posters made, and then for another $100, I can make 1,000 of them and I can sell them for $20. For a $200 investment, I’m making $1,800. All of a sudden, everything started happening like that. When I say it happened, it showed up. You do a theater tour but you stick to the things you apply that worked.
When you went on the theater tour, the birth that went in there and then prior to this new way of doing it your way, was that a different artist?
No. The same artist, identical artist. When I did The Machine, I figured out what I was good at. The special that I told The Machine story on, I figured out what I was good at. I was gearing up for Secret Time, which was my first theater run. I took all the stuff I was doing in the clubs before that and I learned how to tell them onstage in theaters. I applied so many of the things. I remember I could cut a promo for a show in fifteen minutes. I can roll into a venue, shoot a promo for a show, cut it in fifteen minutes, and have it posted.
I remember having my wife put a clock on me and I did it quickly. I would do that every night. Every night, I do something fun, go to the bars, and have all the fans. I promote the bar, get on the bus, cut a promo, and have it posted. I come home off the thing, “We got to move tickets for next week, perfect. Ila, grab the leaf. LeeAnn, grab the hose. Georgia, you work the drone. Can you pull it backward? That’s how you do it.”
I got a speedo with an American flag. LeeAnn is misting me with water. Ila got a leaf blower in knee-high socks. They’re little girls. Georgia is working the drone it goes overhead. The game changer is I thought, “What if I invested a little bit of money, not much, into a promo?” I was announcing the Body Shots tour. I took hip-hop dance lessons for three days. Dee Glazer charged me $1,200. I ended up buying her a Gucci purse also.
You know how to get to a woman’s heart.
I would never have done that. It was my wife. What happened is that me and my girls were texting back and forth for each other on Instagram and we would always text like hip-hop dancers, girls that did cool dances. This one girl, Dee Glazer, was awesome. I was like, “What if I did one of these dances? What if I did it to promote shows?” I learned the dance, did the dance, and then ran tour days on the side. $1,200, three days, we did it, and we shot it in three takes. I posted it and all of the Body Shots sold out. The first run added shows. We added four shows in some markets for a $1,200 investment.
And a Gucci purse.
LeeAnn was like, “You made a ton of money off that. You owe that young lady. Go to the mall and get her a Gucci fanny pack.” She was cool. I bought her a Gucci fanny pack, dropped it off to her promoter or manager, and she was like, “This is my first Gucci.” That spiraled out of control.
LeeAnn, first of all, the best laugh ever.
By the way, my favorite visual I’ve ever seen is her walking in and you walking out of the bathroom.
I was like, “Hello.” When people get together, whether it’s friends or your teammates, your Joes, Toms, and Aris. Also, before that, it’s LeeAnn. What kind of power do you get from somebody who’s willing to say, “I’m with you. I believe in you.” Laird and I have been together for over 27 years. There are a lot of debt nights and days. People don’t realize that you’re independent contractors. You’re following a “dream.” Sometimes, it’s having somebody that you can go to, “I feel scared. I’m not sure.” They see you and they know. They might be scared too. Who is Bert because of LeeAnn?
I don’t think I was grounded in reality before her about anything ever at any point.
What does that mean? You grew up in a serious house. You have serious parents, real jobs, and professional people. What does that mean, you’re not grounded in reality?
Nothing was real for me. I went to Florida State.
How many years?
Six and a half or seven years. I didn’t do anything. I don’t know how I got by. I don’t know how I didn’t fail out. I didn’t do anything. I got discovered by Rolling Stone magazine.
I do love that. What is it, 1997?
I’m the number one party animal in the country.
A lot of people don’t know this. Van Wilder is based on you. You’ve been cool about it. People can appreciate that. It’s all come back to you.
I’m happy. That’s a cool caveat in my life that people bring that up.
When you talk White privilege, it’s my life. I’ve been blessed with lucky things happening to me. I didn’t study a ton in high school. I got into Florida State. It wasn’t difficult but difficult at the time. In Florida State, you had to have at least 1,000 on the SAT. I got lucky. I don’t know how I got the SAT score I got. I got a high SAT score. I get into Florida State for 6.5 years. I had no plans for the future.
Not even comedy?
No. I thought maybe I’d go out to Aspen and work at a ski lift for a few years.
Because you’re a big skier?
No. I thought it would be fun to smoke weed and be in Aspen. Five months before graduation, Rolling Stone magazine comes to my house and partied with me for a week. A month before graduation, they posted an article saying that I’m the number one party animal in the country. No plans after graduation and now I have succinct plans. I tried stand-up for the first time and got lucky on that. I follow four headliners, do twenty minutes and murder it. I get offered my own morning show. I moved to New York. Once again, I’m lucky. I get on stage.
When you murder, it’s not like you’ve been working on material. Where does it come from? You’re a good storyteller. You go up and tell some personal stories?
I’m going to try to correlate this to athletics. Athletically, you can probably go out and outperform anyone without much of a warm-up. People would be like, “Holy crap.” You’re going, “This isn’t me good. If you see me good, you’d be like, ‘Wow, that’s good.’” I can get on a rowing machine and beat your pace.
[bctt tweet=”It’s a point of pride where you go, “The hard work worked.””]
It’s one of your things.
With stand-up, my natural pacing, my natural fuck-a-round is a cheat code. It doesn’t help me. I can go up on stage and have a lot of fun. The audience will have a lot of fun with little preparation and little crowd work. The way I think casually translates well. I did it for three shows. I’m sure this translates with athletics, I have to focus and write down, “This is what I’m working on tonight.” If not, I screw around but it’s fun. Everyone’s like, “That was amazing.” You can’t do a special that way.
When you do a special, you’ve got to very much focus on what you’re doing and go, “This is it. It is defined within these lines. Within these lines, I need to make this amazing.” I can’t do these little smoke and mirror tricks I do in the clubs. However, the jazziness of what you’ll get in the club, the jazz aspect of it, if you can let that bleed in a little bit to this strict thing that you’re presenting to Netflix, it goes a long way. Not everyone can get jazz. Not everyone can get this. For me, this part comes naturally. That’s what I did the first time, I thought. I think quickly. A stream of consciousness came easily to me.
You’re lovable, Bert.
I have a likeability and I giggle a lot.
There’s a speed that you’re slipping in all the time within being like, “I’m your friend.” How is Bert, the artist, in this more structured zone? How has that developed for you? Has that become easier to go, “This is big boy time. We got to buckle up and get serious.” What does that process look like?
For my first hour, I thought, “You do the material you have,” that’s what it is, “Tell all your jokes.” I remember thinking, “That doesn’t seem.” For my next special, I was like, “Tell all your jokes but you should probably place them in a good place. You should probably figure out an arc to this hour.” On Secret Time, I did way more work than I’d ever done.
I started doing theaters a little bit here and there but I started realizing, “There’s a reason there are good ones and there’s a reason there are bad ones.” The bad ones are the guys who are like, “This is what I do, murders in clubs.” I remember Tom saying, “When you do theater, it’s a little different of a muscle. You had to have it dialed in.”
This is no secret but I remember having a conversation with a couple of comics. I won’t say their names. I don’t want to rat them out. We were backstage and they were like, “Congrats on your Netflix special.” I was like, “Cool.” One dude was like, “Just so you know, they don’t watch past 30 minutes.” This other person was like, “That’s a lie. They watched the whole thing.” I was like, “I’m hearing two different things.”
That night, I came home and I watched both of their specials. I tapped out on the other person’s way before 30 minutes. That one, I got 30 minutes and I was like, “I’ve had enough.” I went, “That’s what both of them said to me and that’s my insight.” Netflix had wanted me to do 30 minutes and I said that the art form is an hour. What I did is I put a lot of work into it. I restructured my hours so that my closer started at 23 minutes.
If you got to 23 minutes, which they probably would, you would hear such a great bit that you’d go, “I’m going to watch the whole thing.” I do the special. I remember that show murdering so hard that I was like, “I don’t know if I can follow this.” It aired and the retention rate was 92%. People watched 92% of the special. Netflix hit me up, they brought me in, and they’re like, “Can we ask you what you did differently about this?” I said, “I talked to…” They said, “No one watches 30 minutes.”
I worked a little harder and I restructured my set. I took out stuff and I tried to punch it up and get my last-minute high. I put all my bangers up front and see if I can organize it that way and have my closer on 23. I remember they said, “Can we take your special and give it to the other comics and tell them this is how it should be done?” I went, “Yeah.” It’s a point of pride where you go, “The hard work worked.” Everything’s growing in space.
For the next special, I got a little too nifty. It did better than the first special. I had my first two closers up front. Everything had a bow on it. Everything had callbacks. For this special, I’ve been doing it for so long, I’ve been uneasy about it. You get close to it and you can’t tell if it’s good. I had LeeAnn, my buddy, Tony, who’s producing it, and my manager, Judy, come watch it. They’re like, “We love it.” Now I’m like, “Cool.”
I’m done thinking about it. Now what I’m doing is I am taking this structured thing into clubs and theaters but into clubs mostly when I can and doing the jazz thing with it where you screw around and you make it fun and feel free. I’m doing the work also. I’m going to the club, I’m going to screw around, but I have three things I need to say.
Every show, I have these three beats. I want to talk about the difference between young girls having sex and all the porn they’ve seen and all the stuff they hear, meaning 25-year-olds. I got a great line. I said, “All young girls watch porn. You take it into the bedroom. I couldn’t even keep up with that. My wife watches two cows fuck in a field. I’m the one on the bottom.” You got to screw around to get there. If you don’t screw around, you don’t get there and you don’t get these inspired moments. I’m not saying that’s inspired but these inspired moments that you can then put in this structure that makes it feel loose.
That makes a lot of sense. They always talk about discipline, freedom, and all that. You’re more successful and yet you’re adding this discipline. Is it the motivation to go, “The discipline is working and they’re more on the line.” How is that relationship developing in your world?
I saw this documentary on the USA Olympic team, The Redeem Team. There was a moment where they said Kobe got up at 4:00 in the morning every time to work out and all the other guys were like, “I’m sleeping in.” Kobe was like, “If you wake up and work out this and this, no matter what, six years in, they’ll never catch up with you.” I heard that and I went, “That’s what I’ve been doing.” My thing is if you’re on stage so much that you are like a vessel up there where you can think freely, be in the moment, and go to a beat, that consistency will show up.
Do you know Jesse Itzler?
He’s married to Sara Blakely.
The guy who does all the weird running. He’s great. What did he make?
He makes a big ass calendar. He sent me one.
He had David Goggins live with him.
He sent me a calendar and I wrote on the calendar. I’m visual. It’s cool how wide it is and how long it is. You can do a month, month, and month, or you can do a month, all 30 days. I looked at all 30 days and I wrote down my dates on them and I went, “That doesn’t look like a lot of stand-up.” I looked at my thing and I said, “I have X amount of days before I do that.” If someone said I have 60 days left before my special, how many times should I do stand-up? 60 is my answer. I was like, “That’s not achievable. You’re going to have days you fly. I got to do stand-up for 50 days.” I started writing it out.
I said, “Let’s not do 50 days. A lot of times, you’re doing two shows a day. Let’s do 50 shows. Theoretically, you’re working every day.” More reps on one day are more important than going in Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I’ve done about 50 shows so quickly that I’ve still had a whole month left. Before I shoot my special, I’m already at 50. It’s that discipline of getting in and getting the reps and getting on stage and being comfortable in the shoes.
Bert, The Machine, and this character that has also elevated you. How do you fight the characterization of the character? I always find it like a weird thing. The more successful we become, it’s almost like we’re not going to the grocery store as much anymore. It’s like we’re losing contact with the everyday stuff that is the funny stuff. In a way, you’re all of our friends. As you work and grow, how are you tethering yourself still to the route that makes you relatable?
I’ve done a lot of self-exploration with alcohol. There is a part of me that denies my capabilities and self-destructs. I coble myself to be a regular dude if that makes sense. I said it on a podcast with Tom and I don’t know what I said but he was like, “You should talk about that in therapy.”
It makes a lot of sense. First of all, we feel fortunate that we’re chosen. You’re sensitive. We’re like, “Why do I get to do this?” People are like, “I love you.” It’s that hodgepodge where we maybe go, “It’s not that I don’t deserve it but maybe I can be less than.” With Oprah Winfrey, It was her weight. It was the one thing that kept her relatable. It’s like, “I struggle too. Plain chefs, this, and that, but I can’t get the weight off.”
It makes sense. It’s an interesting thing to navigate. Your family keeps you rooted because to your daughters, you’re a dad with an eye roll. We all get that. LeeAnn is going to be probably someone who keeps you grounded I would imagine. That’s an interesting comment about, “Don’t get too healthy or don’t get too ripped.”
I remember hearing Rogan and Tom talking about me and they were like, “He’s a legit athlete. If he stopped screwing around, he would be a legit athlete. He could get shredded.” I remember hearing that. I was a competitive athlete in high school, in baseball. When I went to college, I remember people talking about their abilities in softball. I remember, in the fraternity, they were playing intramurals. In my head, I was like, “None of you are good.” In high school, I didn’t play baseball. Where did these abilities come up? I didn’t say a word.
I remember my buddy was like, “Bert is legit good. You should have him play.” I was like, “I’m not saying I’m good but I’ll play.” I screwed around a lot on that field. I remember playing right field. I was not asking to play a position. Everyone fought, “Shortstop. Third base.” By the way, I grew up in competitive baseball. I played right field and I remember doing basket catches. The ball comes up and I’m like, “What?” I was screwing around.
When I got up, I remember hitting dingers and they were like, “When did you learn how to play?” My buddies were like, “I told you. He got recruited to play at Florida State.” They’re like, “Why didn’t you tell us this?” I’ve applied that a lot. Doing Sober October, I’m like, “I can work all day long, I have no problem with that.” I worked from 5:30 in the morning until 1:00 in the morning at the store. I worked all day and didn’t stop. I go, “I bet that the number of people who can party the way I do at work is minuscule.”
How do you keep it together when you’re on the road and partying? Are you taking supplements? What are you doing to keep it together because very few people can do that?
Exercise is the only thing. I’m punitive. I’ve created this brain that works well for my lifestyle and it doesn’t work so great when I’m not applying my lifestyle. I’m very punitive. I get up, I don’t feel great because I’m a little hungover, and I go, “No. You chose this path. This was decided by you. If you want to have a great day, you get up and you sweat it out.” I’ll get into the gym. It’s crazy because I’m watching my heart rate now. Sober October is different. Before I start to work out, my heart rate will be at 85, now I start to work out and it’s at 60.
I get on the treadmill. For me, it was running five miles every day. That’s a no-brainer. You have to run five miles every day. When I started doing weight training, rowing, and all the different things, I work out every single day and probably burn 500 calories. When I’m done, I feel magical. I’d sauna. I polar plunge. I do all the health stuff that most people would do but when they’re hungover they don’t. I do it when I’m hungover because I’m always hungover.
Laird used to punish himself. When he used to drink wine, he would be up at 5:00 and train even harder to punish himself also. He would still go to bet at 9:30. The fact that he would drink and maybe it felt like it wasn’t a total choice. Maybe everybody’s different. He wasn’t going and having fun the way you’re out having fun.
Sometimes it’s a weird thing where I go, “I don’t want to drink tonight.” I’ll walk in and LeeAnn will be like, “Should we open a bottle of wine?” I’m like, “Why did you say that? Yeah, let’s open a bottle of wine.”
In Sober October, how are you feeling though? Are you excited about November 1st? Are you like, “I’m enjoying this.” Is it a reason that no one is going to harass you and go, “Bert, let’s go. You’re a fun guy.” Is this a break for you? What is Sober October for you?
I love Sober October.
Is it boring? Are you like, “Completely sober is not quite as colorful and fun.”
I’m missing a little bit of the sparkle. A bunch of rappers came into the store and I would love to have partied with these guys. One of them has one of my favorite freestyles I’ve ever seen in my life. He came up and he’s talking crap with gold and diamonds all over. The first thing he said is, “Are you drinking?” I said, “Nope. I’m going home to my daughter.”
Is the sparkle part of the fun that’s part of maybe the color or the inspiration for all of it?
I’m certain you’ve been to a luau. Have you ever seen them when they don’t light the sticks on fire? It feels like, “They’re spinning us to death.” When it’s on fire, it’s like, “Woo.” That’s how I feel.
Who makes you laugh besides LeeAnn? They don’t have to be current. Is there somebody that you’re like, “Oh.”
I was laughing hard with someone. Candidly, I am lucky that the people that made me laugh the most were my friends. I can call them up and be like, “Do you want to do a podcast? Do you want to do my cooking show? Do you want to hang out?” I see them at the store. Whitney Cummings was making me laugh. There’s so much to Whitney that people don’t know that I go, “That’s what I love about Whitney and Nikki Glaser.”
I was with Eddie Bravo last night, Shapel Lacey, and Dane Cook. I get to hang out with these people. Dillon has made me laugh harder than any one human being has made me laugh. Him, Eddie Bravo, and Moshe Kasher, those guys made me laugh. Tom made me laugh the hardest I’ve laughed. He said, “You look good.” I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “You look like the Octomom transitioned.” It’s the hardest I laughed because it’s a great joke.
Do you think he thought about that? He knew he was going to lay it on.
Great comedy shows up out of nowhere. Hanging out with Big Jay. We did we did this big tour over the summer, fully loaded. I organized a tour, I set it up, I paid for most of it, and I got three tour buses. I wanted a party bus that we all can party in. We could start our caravan. When we’re going out tired, we pull all the buses over to the side, we get off the party bus, go to our bunks, and go to bed. We’re on the party bus.
I’m the highest I’ve ever been. I am pretty drunk. I am crying and laughing at Big Jay holding court. I’m laughing so hard and someone’s like, “We need to stop. We have to go to bed. It’s 4:00 in the morning.” I’m like, “Pull the buses over.” We’re still laughing. We get off the bus. I’m bouncing on the bus and Big Jay grabs me and goes, “One more thing.” It’s a total non sequitur that caught me off guard, he goes, “Jurassic Park.”
We gave up and we believe in dinosaurs now. Out of nowhere, on the side of the road, I’m doubled over. I’m blessed to laugh like that, to laugh where you feel like you’re going to pass out. Everyone knows that Tom makes me laugh harder than anyone in the world. He said, “We should meet Jennifer Aniston. Should we bring our wives?” I was like, “No.” I go, “Can she bring someone?” He goes, “Yeah, for safety.” He goes, “Maybe that’s not the message you want to be sending.”
Also, his delivery. How do you have time? You’re practicing. You’re doing all these podcasts. How are you getting this done?
I don’t know. I know how I’m getting it done. Anyone that works with me will say that I hold everyone to a high standard. I’m a little tough to work with.
It’s because you’re rolling.
I want everyone to be on speed. I want everyone to be on one page. I stopped saying this but I used to say I did everyone’s job. I did all these jobs at one point. The reason that I can hire people is that I did their job first and I did good. We were trying to hire someone who was doing something. Let’s say it’s a podcast. It’s not my podcast but that’s a safe place to land. It was taking too long. I used to post them by myself in my mancave drinking. I get them done drinking.
[bctt tweet=”The people that made me laugh the most were my friends.”]
Is it silence? There are people who have the ability and they’re rolling. It’s like, “Everybody, keep up.” Have you got that established in everyone who works with you? It’s like, “Everyone, this is how we’re doing it and we’re rolling.” Is it pretty clear?
Yeah. You met Peter. Peter is a savage. He was designing nuclear submarines before he came and work for me. He operates at the same speed I do. He wakes me up every morning and goes, “Big guy, we got radio. Big guy, we got Zoom. We’re going to do a workout.” He’s very much a driving force in all of me, especially on the road. I work 24 hours a day. I know that not everyone’s supposed to but I expect everyone to work 24 hours a day.
My manager and I say that the reason we work so well together is I’ll call her in the middle of the night and be like, “Bob Seger, what’s he doing? How did he pop? How do we incorporate Bob Seger into this?” I hit her up and I was like, “How much is Cheap Trick? I would love to get Cheap Trick doing my cruise.” She was like, “I don’t know. Find it out.”
One of the things I got the most awards for was, during the pandemic, I created a Drive-In comedy series. That was me calling my agent in the middle of the night, “I need to be touring. I can’t just sit on my ass.” He was like, “What do you want?” I was like, “Drive-In movie theaters, google them. There are some in North Carolina. Get me one. Rent one out. See what it costs to rent it out. We’ll figure it out. I’m sure we can plug into their audio. We’ll figure it out.” He was like, “That’s not a thing.”
It’s a thing now.
We created it. I won an award for it.
What did they do? Flick their lights and honk horns? How did they cheer? How did it go?
I did them primarily in red states, that’s where most of the Drive-In movie theaters are. The rules were a little more lacks. We had places locked off so you have it roped out. If you showed up in your car, you get out of your car, you could set up a couch, set up a smoker, set up a grill, have a pool, and do a hot tub. They came out and it was great. Everyone wore masks when they went into the concession. You had this little area where you could camp out. It took tailgating to the next level. They were outside their cars. It was like doing an outdoor venue for me. Also, my stand-up is very much based on laughs.
You feed off that.
I need to do laughs. Laughs are my thing. I’m not an applause comic. I’m not like, “Good point about politics.”
You’re having fun.
I found a lot of the hunk comics, ones that didn’t have a lot of punch lines. They were out of their cars and it was awesome. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
LeeAnn seems like a vetting wall for you.
She is a savage. Let me give my wife credit. First of all, she’s brutally honest. It has been a nightmare at times.
Do you mean with other people you work with or just with you?
To me, it has been a wall we’ve run into a ton.
You want to be a little more coddled.
I want her to just not speak.
Don’t say anything.
One time, I said, “You could have just not spoken. No one needed to hear what you had to say.” She said, “How do I feel?” I remember she came back to the house and I was like, “You need to talk about this in therapy. This is something wrong.” It serves such a great purpose because in a business where no one’s honest with you sometimes, you have someone that, for whatever reason, gets off on being honest.
She’s your wife. Also, she loves you.
There have been times when I was like, “I didn’t need to know the truth. I could have been cool with you not talking.”
She’s not being honest to be mean, she’s just being honest.
I don’t know.
I have a theory about people like that.
What? They’re broken?
No. They’re nice people inside. It never occurs to them that they’re being mean or that it could be mean because they’re nice and good.
We had one instance where it was a great night. We get in the car and she says something screwed up and then immediately goes, “I should never have said that.” I was like, “Why would you say that?” She’s like, “I don’t know why it came out of my mouth. I’m sorry.” It immediately went, “I know what I’m doing.” We’ve gotten better about this.
We did Fully Loaded and she goes, “This is only successful if Fully Loaded lasts for fifteen years. You can only do 15 fifteen if you do 2. You got to do two.” This first one’s a wash. On a conference call, “Give all the money we’re making on this back in the festival. Put it back in the festival. We don’t want to set. Let’s do two.” We did.
At first, I was like, “Easy.” We did that with the ice maker. We put all the money back into the festival. We got private jets. We got an extra tour bus. We got gift baskets for all the comics. If the comics wanted to fly, we flew them. If they wanted hotels, we put them up. We made sure that everyone knew that everything available for them was available for them so they were taken care of. She’s like, “That’s what you would talk about first, were you taken care of?” We did it and every comic that went back to New York was like, “Fully Loaded was amazing.”
I’ve heard comics on podcasts going, “I wish I could do Fully Loaded.” What you want is comics wanting to do it. That was her insight. That’s the way she is about everything. She’s a gangster. Even with the Drive-In movie tour, she and my manager were like, “Get out there and do it. You’ll create content. Go out. Even if it’s a failure, go out. It’s better than sitting at home.” She’s insightful about that. She runs our merch. She kills them on our merch. She has a great podcast.
Do you stay out of her way? Laird and I work together. It’s all those different roles. Like I say, sometimes I’m going to be working for you. Sometimes she works for you. Sometimes she might be like, “You need to do this.” Sometimes it’s like you’re taking direction or suggestions from somebody. Can you transition? Do you do that?
Differ in the area. She’s not telling you about your jokes. Can you differ even though it’s your wife? You have all this other history and these roles together. Can you go, “She’s in charge of that.” You can do it?
Yeah, easily. It’s the same with her. I don’t know the right way to say this and I hope I’m saying it right, she doesn’t have a spontaneous creative brain. I have a spontaneous, instantaneous creative brain. I like brainstorming. I like bouncing ideas. That’s not her. She needs to focus and sit down with a pen and paper and write things out.
It’s the execution.
She started her podcast. She felt like she was rudderless. She didn’t know what she was going to do with her life. She felt like she had set all my girls up to be successful and now she needed time for herself. She was turning 50 or 48 at the time. I don’t know how long a prop has been going. We were maybe 46. She was like, “I need something for myself.” I was like, “Do a podcast.” She was like, “Yeah, but what’s it going to be about?”
I was like, “Don’t worry about it. Do a podcast.” She goes, “I know but what will people say?” I go, “Don’t worry about it. Do a podcast. Let it be unsuccessful for ten years and get good at it. Ten years in, let it be good and people are like, ‘Have you heard LeeAnn’s podcast?’ Build a fan base.” I go, “The fullest thing to do is to try to be amazing out the gate. Be anonymous and learn and have fun.” Now her podcast is getting bigger numbers than most comics. She loves it. It’s this weird malleable thing that allows her to grow and do different things and bring on experts, bring on her friends, do a book club, and have fun with it.
This is where I think I’m good. I’m the one that was like, “Make it. Turn the camera on and something will happen. Turn the mics on. Let’s start going. Do it.” That’s not her brain. She would have never done it. One day, she’ll credit me for that because I was like, “It doesn’t matter. Start making it.” That’s like my brain, “Get on stage.” If you want to work out, start stretching. Don’t sit there and go, “What am I going to wear?”
“What move should I do first?”
“I’d just Lay on the ground.”
It feels to me that if I was going to ask you to give advice to somebody, especially somebody taking a creative path, that would be your advice.
The number one thing that gets in people’s way is paralyzation by over analyzation.
Paralysis by over-analysis. The same thing. I like your way better.
Not being able to move by not being able to think by overthinking. The number one thing you have to do is start doing it and let it suck. I remember so many times I’d go, “I need to do a promo video.” The number one thing you have to do is turn the camera on. Start by turning the camera on and then start going. Sit down and edit. You’re going to find something. When it comes to stand-up, you have to get on stage. Get on stage and let it suck.
It’s a beautiful justice. We live in a world where everyone thinks you can jump ahead, shortcut, and make it slick. There are certain things that you got to do the work. That’s a good reminder. I want to talk to you about parenting for a second. There is no answer. Every kid is different. Every phase is different. You can blow it and they come out amazing. You think you’re doing all the right things and then you run into challenges. I’m curious about what your lessons have been. I’ll tell you mine. You have daughters and I have daughters.
LeeAnn made a beautiful point. When they hand you a baby, all things are possible. It’s a clean slate, it’s hope, and it’s all these things. We think about that forever. They become who they are and we go, “I didn’t see that coming,” or, “I didn’t know they were going to go through that. I’ve done all these things to avoid that and there we are.”
My job is to love them and to listen and not to try to fix everything, which is harder for men. It’s like, “If you have a problem, are we going to keep talking about or do you want me to tell you what the answer is?” Also, at times when I’m stressing out about a phase that they’re in, it’s to back up a little and be like, “We’re going to ride this out. They’ll get through it.” It took me a long time because I’m a pretty disciplined person and I can try to discipline through things.
I’ve heard you parent via podcast and via the internet at times. Sometimes I go, “That’s intense.” I remember you go, “If you’re going to eat something, eat food and not a bagel.” I remember going, “I gave Ila a bagel this morning.” I was like, “Here you go, take it. I don’t have time.”
There are bagels at my house. It’s also like, “That’ll be your choice.” I’ll model how it’s probably a good idea but I’m not going to handcuff you because that’s always an issue. I’m curious because you’ve been a parent for a long time. You thought one thing and now some other things have shown up for you.
I hope this sounds normal. I didn’t realize how much, especially raising girls, my parenting would be tied to the type of boyfriend I was. This is going to sound crazy.
You are their first boyfriend.
You fall in love with these kids and they mean everything. Everything they do is brilliant. I’ve never experienced love like that. Georgia would do little things that were the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Me and LeeAnn talked about it. My favorite moment ever is LeeAnn was working on taking them up the routes over on 3RD on La Brea. La Brea bakery is right there and we ripped open the top into a love for hot bread. We take a stick of butter and stick it in there and let it melt. We would pick bread out.
If I have a time machine, I’d go back to those days when they were two babies and they were making me giggle. All of a sudden, they become teenagers and they want their distance. I turned into the type of boyfriend who was getting broken up with. I didn’t realize how closely my behaviors were reminiscently psychotic. Reminiscently, it’s like, “I can’t control this. I love you. I need you to love me back. I want the love that I show you to come right back to me.”
When she’s like, “Dad, I’m going to my room.” I’m like, “Can I come and hang out in your room?” I remember one time LeeAnn was like, “You’re acting a little overbearing. You need to give them space.” I said to LeeAnn, “I got to pretend to not be that into her?” LeeAnn was like, “What did you say?” I was like, “We’re going to dinner. I don’t care.” She’s like, “What are you doing? You’re going to invite her to dinner.”
When Georgia experimented with life, booze, pot, got a car, and would break regular rules, nothing crazy, I was micromanaging every moment. Every moment was like, “Why are you two excited? Why are you giggling too much when you came home? Are they high?” I remember my dad calling me one time and he was like, “Are you doing?” I go, “Pretty rough. I think Georgia is high.” He’s like, “Really?” I said, “Yeah. She came back in a great mood.”
He was like, “Is she glassy-eyed or something?” I go, “No, but she came in giggling in the house. She made something to eat and she can’t stop giggling. Everyone’s giggling in the house. I’m pretty sure she’s high.” He goes, “Buddy, there is a possibility that she is in a good mood. Now you’re about to go in and ruin it by asking her to take a drug test.” I was like, “Yeah.” He goes, “How many times do you think you came home high and I knew about it? I thought to myself, ‘He’s home. He’s safe. This isn’t the battle I want to fight to win the war. I’m going to let this one go.’”
I remember I was sitting out in the back and I went, “What am I supposed to do?” He goes, “Let her go to sleep. Go in and say I love you, did you have a good time? Let her talk to you. Don’t try to bust her.” I went in and I talked to her and she was not high. LeeAnn went in and she was not high. I was about to start a fight because I’m psycho about control.
I’ve gotten better with Georgia. I took her to Hawaii. I invested time in her. I always wanted to learn to surf. I took her to Hawaii and we went to Turtle Bay and did classes. I want to pay for classes. I don’t want to lean into anyone. I want to do it anonymously. I want to be able to pay money. I go, “I’m not done yet.” We went out there and we had a blast. It’s two of us in the water, it’s pure. It was amazing.
I took her to college and now she’s having a blast in college. This is the real key and this is what my brain needed. We went to Italy and LeeAnn said, “The law here is you guys can drink wine. You guys can drink.” I watched my girls with no rules and be allowed to drink. I watched them drink. They didn’t drink the way I drank.
They drank the way LeeAnn drank. Georgia had a glass of wine and got loose and tipsy and they’re like, “Another glass of wine?” She’s like, “No.” In high school, I’d be like, “Yes. To the top, baby.” I was controlling. The one thing I learned is don’t be so controlling. Trust that you made the emotional investments when they were younger and that they’re going to make the right decision.
All I said to her is, “Never drink and drive. Don’t do coke. Don’t do molly. Those things have things in them you can’t control. Once you put that in your body, you can’t take that back. If you’re going to smoke weed, it’s completely fine. That’s going to happen. You can have a lot of fun. All I do was smoke weed and drink. It’s fun. By the way, you don’t have to do any of that.” We’re going to parents’ weekend. She called me and she’s like, “Are we partying this weekend?” I go, “It’s Sober October. You’re fucking 18. No, we’re not partying.”
What about the baby? How are you with her? Are you still trying to loosen that grip up a little bit?
I don’t even know. Georgia and I were similar. Ila and I have always been different. LeeAnn and her are similar.
Isn’t Ila the funny one?
She’s the lunatic. She has always been this bizarre individual. The thing is Georgia and I are similar. Georgia would always go, “Are you watching her?” I’d go, “No.” She goes, “You got to see this, dad. She’s getting naked in the middle of the intersection.” I look over and she’s taking all her clothes off. This kid has always been off-center. As she got older, she tried to dial it in. I made her famous for being off-center. People are like, “Ila, do some Ila thing.” She was like, “I don’t even know what that is.”
[bctt tweet=”Just start doing it and let it suck.”]
Me and her connect insanely. The way LeeAnn and I connect, I can break her down. If she’s in a bad mood, I can turn her bad mood in a second. I can make her laugh immediately. She can come to me and talk to me. She’s told me three secrets hasn’t told her mom. She trusts me. For whatever reason, me and her connect easier than Georgia and I connect but it’s because Georgia and I are similar.
Georgia and LeeAnn connect. Georgia had a big milestone happen in her life and called LeeAnn and talked to LeeAnn about it. I was like, “What the hell?” Ila has told me things that have happened where I’m like, “Are you telling your mom?” She’s like, “Do not tell mom. I don’t want to talk to mom about this.”
As long as one of you is connected, that’s better. It doesn’t matter which one. It’s all of our lessons. I could ask you a million other questions.
I got to have you on my podcast.
You said, “I didn’t know. I wasn’t thinking of doing anything.” Maybe when you started to get on stage and go, “I can do this. I have a natural skill for this. If I learned the craft and practice, I can do this.” You were around people that were doing it. It becomes an active dream when you’re doing these. You’re dreaming. It’s like, “Let’s do the Drive-In.” It’s magical. You’re living out parts of the dream. Is it what you thought? Is it an extension of, “Cool. Now I have more options.” I have the freedom to call people and go, “I want to do this.” How’s that shown up for you?
it’s funny because I had always written it off. When the girls were all still here, we had dinner at some French restaurant. I said, “This is nice that we can do this. I want you to know that I bust my ass so that we can have moments like this and go to Italy.” Georgia goes, “That’s not true.” I went, “Excuse me.” She goes, “You think you’re doing this for us?” I went, “Yeah.” She goes, “No. You’re doing this for you, dad.”
LeeAnn is like, “Our fun is a byproduct. We get to go to Italy, that’s a byproduct.” All of them were like, “You’re doing this because these are your dreams. You get to go and do an arena tour. You’re getting to go to Europe. You’re getting 10,000 people to stand up with their flashlights on and do the tomahawks as you hold the spear. We don’t get any of that. Sure, we get braces and we can go to college but this is all about you.”
There was a selflessness in me that was like, “This is what a dad does.” LeeAnn goes, “Dads dig holes. Dads put up fences. Dads repair the plumbing. Do not compare yourself to them.” I’m living every dream I ever had and not even knowing I had them. I’m hyper-aware of how fortunate I am but I’m getting to live it out. It’s amazing to be the silliest thing.
We did the baseball park tour, Fully Loaded. Shane Gillis pulled me aside and he’s like, “You’re running out from the left field, right?” I went, “What?” He goes, “On the stage. You’re in a baseball stadium. You’re not going to come out to Enter Sandman and run out to the stage.” I went, “No. I didn’t even think about it.” He goes, “Enter Sandman, the lights come on, and he comes out.” I was like, “For real?” I get chill bumps thinking about it.
You’re walking out where the Cavaliers play. You’re walking through the tunnel where LeBron James would walk out to go on onto the court. You’re doing Florida State. When they gave me that spear, I fell apart. They didn’t even realize what they were doing. Succinctly, for any Florida State fan, this is important. You probably identify with this. Growing up in Florida, there was not a lot of Civic pride the way Boston, New York, or Chicago has. We didn’t have any Civic pride with the Dolphins. The Bucks were horrible. We had no baseball teams and no hockey teams at the time when we grew up. You have Florida State, Florida, and Miami. Those were the big things. In Tampa, no Civic pride.
When I went to Florida State during my freshman year in 1991, I went to the game and my dad said, “You’re going to love these games, buddy.” I went, “Really?” I went in and they did the stripes on my face. I’m not a face paint type of guy because I don’t like clowns but they put stripes on my face. I was like, “Okay.” I sat in the endzone and I didn’t know what to expect. I was like, “I’ve never been to a game like this.” The Bucks’ games were horrible.
Chief Osceola comes out on Renegade. I get emotional. I’m not even fooling around. He comes out with the burning spear. I’m 18 years old. You know that feeling. Everyone’s going crazy. He comes out and he spikes it. I start sobbing and crying. I’m 18 years old and I’m crying. I put on sunglasses because I never had Civic pride before.
All of a sudden, I felt attached to a community. I felt one of something. I rooted for a team that I had just discovered. I was like, “This is my team. I’m tuning into this team for the rest of my life. This is my team. This is my city. These are my people. When I run into other people from the city, they will be family to me.” We got to do the Civic Center. I don’t even realize I’m doing the Civic Center to be honest with you.
What do you mean? Is it because the schedule is packed?
The schedule was packed. I wake up on the bus and I’m at the Civic Center and I go, “What are we doing here?” There’s a whole sign, “Welcome Home, Berty Boy.” Honestly, it’s such an emotional moment for me. Also, a big red carpet and they’re like, “We want to give you something before the show.” I thought they were going to give me an honorary degree. I thought they would put a robe on me like Bill Cosby and they will make me Dr. Bert, Dr. The Machine, or whatever. I did not know what they were goping to give me.
I have all this backstory of how I feel about this school. I was written up in Rolling Stone that got a little bit excommunicated by the people there that ran the school at the time. They were like, “Leave.” I had this weird connection with the school that it ended sourly a little bit with the Rolling Stone thing. I come back and I see these signs.
That day, I take a walk on campus and kids are hanging out in their dorm going, “Welcome home, Berty Boy.” I’m getting emotional thinking about it. They go, “We got something for you.” They have the spear. I fall apart crying. They’re like, “This is bad. He’s going to go on stage in ten minutes.” I’m like, “ Don’t worry, I’m pretty good. You don’t understand what this means to me.” I brought it out on stage. It’s the greatest moment of my life.
I never thought that would ever happen to me. I went to Florida State and moved into Sally Hall and thought it was cool to be a part of a community. One day, I get to perform where I saw Nirvana play and smash pumpkins and then lead 10,000 people in the war chant with a spear on stage. At my funeral, no one should cry. They should be like, “This guy way out kicked his college. He should not have done any of this crap. He’s a mediocre kid from Tampa.” I’ve traveled the world. I’ve done sellout tours. I’ve done specials. I’ve done movies. I’ve done everything I could do. When I die, they should be like, “Let’s just finish the bottle. This was fun.”
LeeAnn has talked about it a lot. The love, is it landing?
Is that love for you? Is it landing?
Yeah. I don’t feel unloved anywhere. That sounds weird. I don’t read comments.
I don’t mean that BS.
When I did Pittsburgh, it was probably the biggest audience I’d ever done. When I started The Machine story, they stood up and gave me a standing ovation. When people say, “I love your podcast. I love 2 Bears. I love your specials. I love your cabin. I love all the things you’ve done.” It means a ton to me. When we started the story, I told you there was a day when I thought I was getting a vasectomy. There was a day when, acutely, I realized none of this was going to happen. It’s called survivor’s remorse when you realize that none of this is happening and then, a month later, it happens.
I was the guy at the store where people looked over my shoulder to see if Rogan was there or if someone was there. I was the guy that people were like, “He’s 45. I don’t think it’s going to happen for him.” All of a sudden, to get success at 44, 45, or whatever it was and then to be where I am, I’m hyper-aware of all that. The blessing of having success later in life, none of it gets lost on you.
When you can afford to buy the car you want or when you can afford to send your daughters to college and the college they want and you don’t have to worry about it, rich people who have been rich forever that’s lost on them. It’s not lost on me. That’s why I connect with my fans because I know that the majority of my fans are dealing with that same thing. I’m grateful.
One of the many things I admire is you kept your life intact, you, LeeAnne, and your family, and you’ve done it your way. A lot of times, people moving through think, “I’ve got to switch this up. The thing I’m doing and who I am isn’t working,” especially in a craft like yours. The fact that you had the wherewithal to do it your way is a big inspiration for people. To remind people that you might have to tweak it and change it and do it yourself and do it more spontaneously or whatever but that it’s still you are a powerful reminder. I’m going to wrap this up. Justin, I’m going to give you one crack. If you have any questions, you get a crack.
Is it weird doing a podcast with no feedback?
When I started the podcast, I would read all the feedback because I sucked. It was like, “Stop sucking air through your teeth.” I’m like, “I do that?” When I talk to people, I didn’t even know I was doing it. “You need to shut up and listen.” The big one was, “You don’t know who you’re talking to sometimes.” I did an interview with an MMA fighter and researched and I listened to the wrong podcast. I clicked it and it went to the next podcast. I’ve done research on a different MMA fighter. I was like, “When you move to Brazil,” He’s like, “I’ve never even been to Brazil.” I was like, “That’s funny, you studied there to get your black belt.” He goes, “I don’t do jujitsu.” I go, “That’s interesting. It’s not what I learned.”
I would read a lot of the feedback and be like, “I need to make the podcast better and this feedback is helping.” It really was helping. You get to a place where the feedback doesn’t help anymore and that’s when I stopped reading comments.
Sometimes you go, “That’s also what I do.” Someone would be like, “You’re talking over.” “I know. I’m hyper-aware of that. What I had to say was better than their thing.” With 2 Bears, at first, there are certain areas. When you’re feeling that, you got to feel your fans. I remember Tom was talking about spending money. Tom talks about spending money is alienating people. What Tom does is he takes the thing that they dislike and leans into it.
He’s smart enough too. He’s smart. It’s almost like he can work around it.
He loves the energy of that. It makes him creative. He craps on professional wrestling and a lot of his fans were like, “Not cool.” He was like, “I don’t think it’s cool that you live in your mom’s basement and watch wrestling.” They’re like, “What the hell?” He was like, “Exactly.” A professional wrestler came after him and he’s like, “You want the smoke? Come get it.” The guy was like, “I will screw you up.” Tom goes, “With make-believe fighting or real fighting?” Tom leans into it. That was fun with 2 Bears.
For the most part, with 2 Bears, the podcast, I can tell when things are good. I’ve had enough. With 2 Bears, if we’re laughing, they’re laughing. I can tell when it’s bad. I’ve been doing my 10,000 hours. I listen to a ton of podcasts. The Rick Rubin and Rogan one was gold for me. Rick Rubin can talk forever. His voice is melodic and soothing. I’ve done my 10,000 hours.
I’ll tell you something that Rick Rubin said about that podcast because he was at my gym. I said, “I listened to it, it was beautiful.” He said, “I got into a talking trance somehow. I felt like Joe did such a good job at listening.” Rick has a shyness to him.
That’s what I always thought.
He said that and I thought, “That’s amazing.” I’m here because it’s Sober October. I want to be one of your friends in your life, be it afar, that is always your advocate and also taking care of yourself so you can continue to kick ass. Do you think you can keep calibrating as you’re going?
I was recalibrating as we lead up to the month. I remember thinking, “Something’s got to give.” It’s that you can’t do this forever. The amount I’m working on is not achievable with my Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Number one was flying. I do have to get a grasp on flying sober. I fly so much. I’ve been keeping a journal. I write everywhere. I wrote down the pros and cons of drinking. I keep these everywhere and I’ll write them down.
I love performing stone sober. I’ll shoot my special in mid-November 2022. My birthday is on November 3rd. I’m doing Rogan on November 1st, 2022. One of the things I’m looking forward to more than ever is taking a month off and then that first buzz when it hits you. It’s beautiful to document it. We’re going to do that on Rogan. We’re going to each murder a shot and document how that feels. It’s interesting when it shows back up in you and you’re like, “We’re back. This is old-school Bert. I want to listen to the dead now.” That’s such a fun way. My birthday is on the third and I’m flying. Here are my little goals, sober on the 30th, drink on the 1st, and fly sober home on the 2nd.
Are you a nervous flier?
Horrible. If I can fly sober home, I’d like to go to bed sober that evening. On the 3rd, I’d give myself the weekend. Don’t drink Sunday night. We’re coming home. Go back on the wagon until Thanksgiving or until I shoot my special on the 17th. If I want to party on the 17th after my special, I can. I enjoy feeling like I’m making my body healthier. I enjoy watching my resting heart rate dropped from 70 to 255. I go, “That’s got to be good for you.” Watching my blood pressure drop from 140 over 95 to 122 over 70.
I heard you talk about that that happened quickly.
The thing is those recoveries won’t always happen. You’re not always going to be able to take your liver levels back down to normal. One day, it doesn’t happen. I need to make big strides. I’ve got a big European tour that happens in January 2023 and Europe is tough for me because it’s fly, perform, fly, and perform.
If I could find a way to manage airplanes and get comfortable on airplanes and that’s where I’m headed, that would be a big step. I would like to be able to party.
When you want to.
It’s akin to eating but doing it the right way. Here’s the deal, I want to party with my fans, I want to party on podcasts, and I want to party when it matters. I don’t want a party when it doesn’t matter and when I’m by myself. I go, “Let’s open a bottle of wine and get in the hot tub.” No. Let’s get in the hot tub and go to sleep, get a good recovery, wake up in the morning, and kill it in the gym. I get myself so that I’m in a plus category as opposed to always in the minus.
I’m lucky enough to have friends like you, Huberman, my trainer, and Rogan. Aubrey Marcus is on it. Everyone is on it, John Wolfe. All these dudes, it sounds crazy, genuinely care. I remember you hit me up when I got surgery and you’re like, “You need to get in hyperbaric chambers.” Immediately, I called Joe and Joe was like, “I did 40 therapies. I gave you the one you wanted. They got a great hyperbaric chamber. You need the glass one. You don’t need the other one.” I’m lucky in that sense that I have people like that, that I can reach out to.
Huberman sent me a bunch of liver pills and he’s like, “These are great for your liver. Take these three times a day. I’m going to send another package to you, it’s a little more stuff. Right now, we start here.” The more I can be like, “I’m in Hartford, Connecticut. I don’t need to get wasted tonight. Let’s go to sleep and get a good night’s sleep to go to Buffalo where we got two shows.” We’re in TD Gardens in Boston, let’s make that a party night. The next night, let’s watch a movie or watch videos on YouTube in the bus.
You get the feeling. I have one thing to think about, food for thought. A person like you could sit back and look at their life and think, “I’m living in a dream and a destiny of sorts.” When you fly, it’s remembering you’re considered.
That’s interesting. My brain says, “If I don’t respect the fragility of life in those moments and don’t respect the terror that belongs there, that’s when I perish.”
You can respect that you’re doing something that is unusual. Also, why would you want to spend the last seven minutes of your life scared out of your mind? Screw that. Really? That’s how you’re going to do it?
It would happen in an instant.
What are you going to do?
Someone was talking to me about Cancel Culture and I had an interesting insight. It’s not that I don’t subscribe to Cancer Culture but I don’t pay much mind to it. I’ve been doing the same thing I’ve been doing for over 24 years. I don’t know how to change. I’m not going to change. My sensibility has always been my sensibility. I know I have love in my heart. Whatever I say, if it’s off to the side, you know it’s a joke, you know I’m trying to make people laugh. That’s always been my thing.
[bctt tweet=”The number one thing that gets in people’s way is paralyzation by over analyzation.”]
We went out to Turtle Bay to go surfing. My assistant, Peter, is terrified of sharks, and my daughter, Georgia, is not. She said to me, “Dad, if you go into the ocean and all you think about is sharks, it’s terrifying. There’s so much ocean. It’s overwhelming.” She goes, “In order to enjoy the ocean, you just got to go. It’s not going to happen. If it does happen, then it happened. What are you going to do about it?”
We got out there and you’re in nine feet of water. I felt pretty safe and I went, “This is the same as Cancel Culture.” If you focus on Cancel Culture, then that’s all you’re going to see, this world of Cancel Culture. It’s the same way with sharks. If you go, “I’m going to live my life. Every now and then, I’ll put my feet up if I need to.” I’m going to enjoy everything. I need to apply that to flying.
If you can. I’m trying to honor that. I have to bring up that you talked to the Liver King. I won’t get into it.
I’ve got some of his supplements.
He’s such a fascinating character.
I’m blown away.
Do you approach that seriously? It’s almost like being with an actor.
It’s not to super expand on this theory but I will say this. He has a message that’s pretty interesting, which is a way to live life. Wake up, move, eat, sun, heat, and cold. I don’t mean to take away from any of his messages. I’ll use your husband as an example. There are two types of men. It’s not to take away from any men who have done this. I’m just pointing this out. There are men that do and then there are men that preach or teach. The men that do, I find, are the more inspiring men.
I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Laird talk about stopping drinking but I do know that he did, I do know that he would, and I also know how he is about fitness. Let’s hypothetically use the Liver King. He does all the things Liver King preaches about. You draw different inspirations, especially as a man who has always drawn inspiration from men that do. I haven’t told you this about your husband but watching him do inspires me to do. Sometimes with the self-help books, I feel like they take a look at these men that do and then they whittle down what they’re seeing, and then they apply it to their life. Rogan does. He’ll talk but he does.
He’s intuitive. When you see them, you understand. I have learned this, Bert, doing this show. Also, there are a lot of them that will be inspired by the guys who go, “These are the five things you got to do. Here are the four things you need to practice. These are the ten best things.” For me, certain groups that I’ll tell you, I go, “Oh.” There is a large group where guys are going to see the Liver King and be like, “I’m going to take the supplements and get outside and be barefoot.” Does he stay in character?
Yeah. I couldn’t tell that there was a different person in there.
I secretly have this fantasy that he’s an investment guy from Wall Street who comes from a wealthy family and he supplements.
There was an interesting moment. I don’t know who sent it. He sends you a package after you do his podcast and it’s hoofs, nose, and a tomahawk. I forget the name that it came from. The name that it came from was not Liver King, it was a dude’s name. I didn’t know if it was his manager or him and I thought, “This would break my heart if I found out this is his name.” It was like Bradley or Justin and you’re like, “I can’t see the Liver King be a Justin.”
I’m a big YouTube guy. Laird was the first person I saw do polar plunges. He was the first person I ever saw do a polar plunge. I thought of two things. Number one, I need to do that. I love saunas. I watched him in a sauna and I was like, “That’s different than I’m going to be. I’m not going to get oven mitts with an exercise.”
I remember watching him. This was years ago. You can find this online. This has got to be years ago that I saw this. I thought, number one, I need a sauna and I need a polar plunge. It looked enticing. It looked like something I wanted to be a part of. I then was like, “I need an ice machine. They have an ice machine.” LeeAnn killed that. She was like, “do you have any idea how expensive an ice machine is?”
She’s smart. Just to load it every time. They’re way easier, what you’re doing here.
I watched it. Sometimes you gather information differently when you investigate it. I investigated it and I watched it. I’m not causing drama. Wim Hof is awesome. I remember watching your breathing techniques and I was like, “did they create this or Wim?”
It’s Tummo. It’s ancient. What I love about Wim, I’ll tell you the truth, Wim is the feats guy, “I go up the mountain. I have no shoes. I have no clothes.” He brought a lot of attention to this. Laird and I, our approach is more sciencey. Good on Wim because he mobilized multiple ancient practices and got people doing things that are good for them.
You guys were doing these breathing exercises before I heard about Wim.
That’s maybe because you were glued into us.
I was clued into you guys.
Wim has been on this for a long time. Tummo is where the monks dry sheets on their bodies. Do you know about this? They have these ancient practices where the monks, in cold, in Tibet, put wet sheets on. Through their breathing, they heat themselves up in dry sheets. How many sheets can you dry? You’re talking about serious and old practices. Bert Kreischer, I appreciate you and I’m glad you’re kicking ass. I hope you keep having fun. The calibration. I wanted to see you now because I was like, “My guy is three weeks into taking good care of himself.”
I feel fantastic. My skin looks better. My face looks skinnier.
I am glowing.
That’s what I should’ve called my next special, Glowing. Thanks, Gabby.
Thank you so much for reading this episode. Stay tuned for a bonus episode where I go deeper into one of the topics that resonated with me. If you have any questions for my guests or even myself, please send them to @GabbyReece on Instagram. If you feel inspired, please hit the follow button and leave a rating and a comment, it not only helps me but it helps the show grow and reach new readers.
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About Bert Kreischer
Bert Kreischer is a standup comic who performs to sellout crowds across the country. His latest stand-up special, “Bert Kreischer: The Machine”, premiered on Showtime on November 11. He is the host of the Travel Channel’s “Trip Flip” and “Bert the Conqueror”, and previously hosted “Hurt Bert”. He is a regular guest on “The Joe Rogan Experience” and “The Rachael Ray Show” and has appeared on “Late Night With David Letterman” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live”. His one-hour special “Comfortably Dumb” appeared on Comedy Central and his book “Life of the Party, Stories of a Perpetual Man-Child” shares the hilarious and outrageous stories that define his comedy and exemplify what has made him one of the best story-tellers of his generation.