Bert Kreischer Dishes On His New Netflix Comedy Improv Series & Why He Feels Most Comfortable Onstage Without A Shirt

Bert Kreischer knows just what it takes to make people laugh even if it means he has to take his shirt off. The stand-up comedian, actor, writer and host has come a long way since being named Rolling Stone’s 1997 “Number One Partier in the Nation” to becoming one of the top names in comedy today.

From his fraternity days to his rise as a stand-up comic, Kreischer’s hilarious storytelling initially caught the attention of Will Smith, who signed him to a television development deal. Since then, he has hosted shows for Travel Channel, co-hosted FX’s The X Show and made his acting debut starring in the CBS/20th Century Fox pilot Life With David J.  We caught up recently with the Florida native to discuss his new Netflix improv comedy series, second comedy special releasing next month, and why he feels most comfortable not wearing a shirt doing stand-up. (He is currently on tour and will be performing at the Chevalier Theater and Foxwoods Resort Casino this weekend).

Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg

How did you go from being named the “Number One Partier In the Nation” by Rolling Stone even inspiring the Ryan Reynolds movie “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder” to becoming a top name in comedy?

I wish I had a short answer for that. I was hoping for a slick path to fame and fortune, but I got discovered by Will Smith six months into my stand-up. It wasn’t until I started failing that I started to succeed. I lost all my TV shows and had to go back to the clubs. I wasn’t a headlining comic. There was a lot of humility there.

You are set to star in and executive produce the Netflix improv comedy series “Cabin.” Tell us about that.

The show is going to be hilarious. We were flying by the seat of our pants with the production. Now, we are looking back at our cuts and our bizarre footage. We are up in a cabin relaxing and it is hilarious. There’s definitely a boundary push in it as well. Comedy should push boundaries.

We have to ask – what’s up with the no-shirt onstage policy?

It’s a perfect storm of an answer. I used to rip off my shift and kill a beer after. One night, I took it off and a lady in the back said to leave it off so I did. I found I didn’t sweat as much so I ended up keeping it off. Now it’s my signature. If I wear a shirt, I have found that my energy is off.

Are you wearing a shirt now?

Yeah, I have a shirt I bought for Boston when I was going to The Wilbur for the first time. It’s see-through, which is perfect because I am heading to a hot spin class now. I got in trouble there for taking my shirt off. They told us there was a dress code policy and I knew they were talking to me.

Your second Netflix comedy special “Hey Big Boy” will be released on March 17?

I am really proud of it. The first quarter of the special is where I challenge myself to write smarter than I have ever written. I always have stories about my family, my wife and drinking, but I have more stuff to share. I go back to something Bill Burr once said to me, “If you are not doing something new and challenging yourself, you are wasting your time and their time.”

It’s kind of ironic it’s coming out on St. Patrick’s Day, which you have called one of the best moments of your life.

I am telling you there is something to be said for a St. Patrick’s Day air date. I am throwing a huge party in LA with 16 of the biggest comics in the world performing. It’s going to be insane.

Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg

How did “The Machine” story become a career-defining moment for you?

In all honesty, I have got to credit Joe Rogan for that in part. He was pivotal and vocal that I had to tell it on stage. That was like nine years ago. When I was in Columbus, they were yelling “The Machine” and I ended up telling it and we ended up recording it for a Showtime story. I posted it to Facebook and it went viral. That was a game changer. I remember being on stage and there were so many people who had heard “The Machine” story. It’s really funny because I was going to actually retire that story before it went viral.

Tell us about the Berty Boy Tour that’s coming to Massachusetts this weekend.

I am so excited. I absolutely can’t wait to come to Boston. I love touring. I love stand up. I love getting on a tour bus with my friends. I love partying and I love laughing.

Speaking of Bostonians, you have done podcasts with Joe Rogan, who began his career in comedy in Boston, and Bostonian Bill Burr. Who’s funnier?

That’s impossible to say, so I’ll say me [laughs]. Bill and I do a podcast together. He consistently floors me. As for Joe, I weigh on his opinion heavily.

Do you have any favorite spots to check out when you are in Boston?

I’m such a lazy traveler. When I go to a city now, I hang out around the venue. I’m boring. I did nine years with Travel Channel and had all of these incredible experiences. It’s hard now to go on vacation with my family because everything I do now stinks compared to what we did on Travel Channel [laughs].

You’re an author, have your own podcast and cooking show, and have even hosted shows The Travel Channel. What’s up next for you?

I want to make a movie. they optioned the rights to “The Machine.” We just got the script this week and are talking about shooting in June.

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