I was laughing, but he was serious. I asked my podcast guest about his relationship with his dad.
“What was it like growing up with him?”
“I don’t know the right way to say this without it sounding bad,” Bert Kreischer said. He’s a comedian. A great one. And he just came out with a new Netflix special called “Secret Time.” It’s great because you feel like you’re just sitting around, hanging out, and listening to a great storyteller.
Some people want to entertain, but don’t know how. Bert’s a master at this.
“When did you find out you were a good storyteller?” I asked.
“In 9th grade,” he said. “I went to an all-boys, Catholic high school and it was so different from my other high school ’cause there were no girls there.”
At his old school (the one with girls) you couldn’t just sit at the cool lunch table. “You had to have a reason,” Bert said. “You had to have an ascertainable talent.”
“If you looked around all the lunch tables and one lunch table was hot and people were standing up around it, then you had to have a reason to sit there. And for me, my reason was telling a story.”
He walked me through it. The sort-of obsession for acceptance and how it carries into today in both his career and his success.
“I remember rehearsing my stories from religion class over to the cafeteria and being like, ‘Alright, I’m gonna tell the story about the beer run.’”
He’d come up with plot twists and punchlines. And it worked. People thought he was funny.
But this need to be liked had to come from somewhere.
So he told me a story from his childhood.
“When I was in first grade, I was playing second base. Dani Sullivan was my coach. The bases were loaded. It was an evening game on a Thursday. And a fly ball was hit to me and I caught it in the air. I took the ball, I spiked it, I ripped my shirt off and I started dancing. I’m in first grade… As a parent, right now, I would pay money to watch that. I would definitely pay money if it was my kid. My dad was humiliated. My mom loved it. That was my natural personality. Who I am is right in that kid.”
“So let’s say your dad cheered you on in that moment. How do you think that would’ve changed you?”
“Oh, I would’ve ended up being some porn star. I’m sure you need that disapproval to become a well-rounded human being.”
“He said, and I believe this, that I remind him of his dad, and he lost his dad to a stroke when he was 13. And I think there was a part of him that was afraid to connect with me, maybe?”
I wouldn’t say Bert was defending his dad. It just seemed like he was trying to understand. Or relate. So that it would be OK.
And I think he thinks it is OK.
Which is big… to be grateful to your parents for the way they hurt you. Or to be grateful to anyone. Or to at least acknowledge that it wasn’t their intent.
And that you’re OK.
And for Bert, it really worked out. Because he uses his life as material for stand-up. So he gets to relieve the tension of his past and gain a voice, a following, money, satisfaction, a new community and so on.
“I was supposed to go to therapy today,” Bert said. “I should’ve had him call in.”
We laughed. Then he asked for another drink.
The conversation went on for two hours. I was laughing for 90% of it.
- I laughed when he said, “I wonder if you and I have the same disability.”
- And when he said, “I didn’t know I was fat, to be honest with you, until my friend, who’s bigger than me, fat-shamed me.”
- And when he said, “I would have loved to have been a hot chick growing up. Because as an attractive woman, you’re automatically famous. You turn heads. And people want to meet you, but I had to learn how to tell a story.”
Then multiply that by two hours. Which I realize can be too long of a podcast for some people.
So I did something new.
I published the full episode. AND I also published some highlight clips. I could’ve made 20 or 30 clips. And they’d all be great. But this is just a test. So let me know if you like this and I’ll keep doing it.
Here’s the full interview with Bert Kreischer where he talks about everything (storytelling, working with Will Smith, making his own TV show, writing, and more):
And here are some shorter clips of the lessons I learned from Bert or the ways he proved to be truly entertaining:
1. Create Something You Want to Create – [6 minutes]
2. Bert Kreischer on “Finding Out He Was Fat” & The Power of Perception – [20 minutes]
3. Dad Issues & Drinking Problems – [10 minutes]
4. What’s Your “Natural Personality?” (which should really be called “Dad Issues Part 2″) – [18 minutes]
5. Retirement Goals – [6 minutes]
Links and Resources
Secret Time (streaming now on Netflix)
Bert’s Podcast “Bert Cast”
Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off
The Travel Channel
Beverly Hills 90210
“Just Go Away” by Motley Crue
Mike Pesca (host of “The Gist“)
“Skanks for the Memories” from Mike Vecchione
Hannah Gadsby’s special on Netflix “Nanette”
“Shit My Dad Says” by Justin Halpern
Bert’s Tracy Morgan story on “The Joe Rogan Experience”
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Michael Ian Black
Casey Neistat’s podcast“Couple Therapy” with Candice and Casey
Grace Helbig’s podcast “Not Too Deep”