Bert Kreischer Learns "Everything's Kind of Fleeting"
Imagine if your first claim to fame was being featured in an article as the "top partier" at the top party school, Florida State University. It'd be kind of a crazy thing right?
Now imagine Oliver Stone read that article and bought the rights to make a movie about your life. Then that fell to the wayside. Then the Fresh Prince discovers you and nothing happens. And so on, and so forth.
That kind of disappointment would demoralize most, but not Bert Kreischer. He was able to turn those near wins into actual successes. He's hosted five television shows, several standup specials, and written a new book Life of The Party: Stories of a Perpetual Man-Child. Bert is now regarded as a master storyteller and is host of the Travel Channel show Trip Flip where he takes random, unsuspecting people on an immediate 5-day vacation of his choosing.
Bert was kind enough to have a little chat with with us on the phone, where we discussed his many ups and downs, the impact writing a book has had on him, his family life, and even one of his recent dreams.
What was the transition like going from Rolling Stone's "Number One Partier in the Nation" to television star to stand-up comic?
I would say that transition was entirely ego-dissolving. I think it was humbling. Humbling is so overused, humiliating is a better word. When the article came out, I felt like I was famous, I was at Florida State. I moved to New York and realized none of that mattered, I wasn't a stand-up comic. I had to work the door.
I was like "Wait, Oliver stone optioned the rights to my life... I had a book deal on the table..." and it fell apart. I was bummed out. Then Will Smith discovered me, and I was like, "I knew it! I knew I had the goods! I knew it! (Laughs) Then that dies, and you're like "Damn it, I didn't have it." Then you get your next show, and then you're like "I'mmmm back!!" By like the third run, you get to this place where you're like, "OK, here's the deal, I'm not shit. I'm just very lucky to be working." (Laughs) You get real humbled, but in like a come out of prison kind of way.
By the way, everything's going along great in my life, but I do a weekend at the Des Moines Funny Bone and I say, "I'm so grateful to be here, thank you guys so much. I miss you. I can't wait to see you next year." I'm well aware that all success is fleeting, and you are just a dog chasing its tail.
So what do I like? I love doing standup, I enjoyed writing a book. Don't know if I'll do another one. I love the Travel Channel stuff, Trip Flip, but at the same time, everything's kind of fleeting. I'm well aware of that, and worst case scenario, I have standup to fall back on.
You had Life Of The Party: Stories Of a Perpetual Man-Child come out recently. This being a first for you, what was the process like? How did it affect you?
The book made me very vulnerable. The writing process of it was actually a blast. I will write another book, but the publishing process is a little too introspective for me. Because you get into marketing selling a book, and what sells out there and what attributes you have that may sell a book. At a certain point you're like "Hoof, how do people see me?" It was a little eye-opening for me, you know? You whittle me down to, "This guy robbed a train, check out his book." And you're like, "I'm a little bit bigger than that," but you're not, you're really not.
To a consumer you need to be a five word selling point. I've never been comfortable with selling myself. That's why I love doing standup and Trip Flip. I love promoting Trip Flip because I'm not promoting a project I did by myself, it's a project like 150 people worked on for eight weeks.
So, writing the book was fun, I enjoyed the writing process a whole lot, any artist probably enjoys the process. Selling the book is tough, you have to disconnect a tad, and I had a hard time with this one. I loved it. I say I'll never do it again, but in the self-defense mechanism kind of "what if the never ask" way. You know what I mean? (Laughs) I have an idea for a second book that I pitched to an editor but I still have work to do with it.
It's well known you have the big party animal, crazy guy reputation. What's it like balancing that image while also being a husband and father of two?
I'm so glad you asked that, and I'll tell you why I'm glad. Someone gave heat to Matt Lauer for asking the head of GM what it was like to be a CEO of a major company and a mother, and they were like, "You wouldn't ask a man that!" I didn't say a word, but I was like "I always get asked that!" (Laughs) That's always in my questions, "What's it like being a party animal and a father?"
Well, it's a little bit different than running GM, but it's a struggle. I'd imagine it's a struggle for any dad, but for me, I know it's public, and because I'm irresponsible. So imagine if I were a professional gambler, cut from that same cloth, I guess. People kind of furrow their brows and they're like, "Ooohh, I know you're making money, but is that healthy? Don't you want to see your kids graduate?" It's tough.