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Bert Kreischer still lives and makes jokes in the moment

| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Comedian Bert Kreischer
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Comedian Bert Kreischer

Manic comedian Bert Kreischer has come a long way from his seven-year stint as a Florida State Seminole where Rolling Stone magazine named him the No. 1 party animal in the country. Yes, the country.

Kreischer has parlayed party nature into a great comedy career, selling out shows all over the country. Not bad for a guy who had no idea you could even get paid to do comedy, let alone make a good living. He vividly remembers the day when he was sitting in his apartment and received his offers of work for the year, “Oh, my God, I'm going to be actually be able to support my family.

“At first, I just wanted to get on stage as much as I can; maybe get on at the (Comedy Cellar in New York). That was my goal.”

Kreischer not only reached that goal, now he is bouncing all over the planet. He regularly appears on the Rachael Ray show and also has been on “Late Night with David Letterman.” On top of that, Kreischer's “Comfortably Dumb” is still one of Comedy Central's most popular specials. He had his own show for two season on the Travel Channel called “Bert the Conqueror,” in which he was filmed experiencing roller coasters, water rides and unusual sports.

Recently, he was in Rio de Janeiro, filming his hit show “Trip Flip” for the Travel Channel. On the show, he convinces two random people to spontaneously agree to a three-day surprise vacation. He gets paid to be on vacation. Tough gig.

Question: Describe your comedy style.

Answer: It feels hacky to say I'm a storyteller, but I guess, ultimately, I'm a storyteller. I guess, write what I write and tell the joke. Most of all, I like to be in the moment, I like to improvise on stage, have fun with the crowd and make every show individual, as opposed to going through a routine.

Q: Is the physicality of your show something that you put a lot of thought into or is it natural?

A: No, I could be more conscious of it. I notice when I open my eyes more, I get bigger laughs on certain jokes and I am never aware of that. It would certainly behoove me to videotape some of the sets and punch up my act with a little more physicality. Because I think my body lends itself to physical comedy. (Laughs)

Q: You seem to take your shirt off like Vladimir Putin or Matthew McConaughey. Why and does that help your comedy?

A: Putin — I take that as a huge compliment. He runs his country like a gangster, like a savage … Genghis Khan. I don't know why I take my shirt off, cause I'm an idiot. I take my shirt off in the first 30 seconds of my act mostly to cheer me up and put me in a good mood. It reminds me that it's a lighthearted job and it should be fun. I have tactile issues ... I don't like wearing underwear, I only like certain types of socks, loose boots; I don't like tight tennis shoes, I like flip-flops. Hats will drive me nuts; tags on the back of my shirts make me crazy.

Q: Who were your role models?

A: Sam Kinison was a big role model to me. I guess, Pryor and Eddie Murphy. I distinctly remember laughing at Eddie Murphy as a kid. Then when I got to New York, I had a whole new group. There were just guys you saw work who were geniuses — Chappelle, Attel, Hedberg. … I remember seeing them and having them redefine what I thought comedy was. This is going to be harder than I thought.

Q: What is your creative process?

A: I'm extremely “in the moment.” I keep a completely open mind to every moment that happens and I look for the humor in that moment. Also, I write on-stage. ... Something happens, I write it in my little black book and I work it out live. My process is kind of frustrating but it's my process.

Q: What is a fundamental truth about life?

A: Very, very, very simple. Laugh. That's it. That's absolutely it. I laugh more than is humanly possible. I laugh non-stop, my daughters laugh non-stop, my wife laughs non-stop. My family is a big laugher. I can also say, without doubt, push yourself. My working with the Travel Channel has sent me to places I wouldn't go mentally or physically.

Q: Tell us something about Bert Kreischer that our readers might not know.

A: I'll tell you: I love working in the yard. I am obsessed with my ficus and I'm obsessed with my jasmine. I think people would be shocked to know I can run a seven-minute mile, which is pretty tough. I have the body of a competitive eater with the lifestyle of an extreme athlete. I'm actually fairly athletic and people don't see that in my body.

Comedian Matt Wohlfarth is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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