Bert Kreischer has a new special out on Netflix this week; his third. The new hour was filmed at the Trocadero in Philly, a perfectly chosen venue for Kreischer to get the kinds of reactions his stories are meant to elicit. If you’re a longtime Kreischer fan, after his last special, The Machine, you probably are thinking that he should have retired immediately after recording his infamous Russian mafia story where he earned that nickname. It’s a Paul Bunyan-esque legendary story- the kind of story you save for your third special, or maybe even your last special because it’s a tough act to follow. But Kreischer has followed up his 2016 Showtime special with a new high point.
It’s called Secret Time because Kreischer essentially spends an hour telling you things that no loving friend and family man in his right mind would share with a theater full of strangers, let alone on Netflix. Telling stories he swears are all true, he not only shares his own secrets including a really funny parent-teacher conference story and an explanation of how his relationship with Alexa exposed his own shortcomings, he also rats out his wife’s inability to give even a mediocre handjob, and early on sets up the premise that his two daughters are “dumb as fuck” and “legit mouthbreathers.”
Depending on your own comedic sensibilities, that description has already made you want to stop reading here, either so you can immediately turn on the special, or because you’re horrified and thinking, ‘what an awful person.’ Watch the special, then come back and read the interview. Because even if you’re horrified, it’s okay. Kresicher has that rare and incredible talent that only a handful of comedians like Bill Burr, or Nick DiPaolo, possess- the ability to set up a joke with a premise that you are convinced goes too far, and you can’t possibly find it to be funny. Then he pulls your feet out from under you, and not only makes you laugh, but also makes you think that awful premise wasn’t even so terrible to begin with. Being a cringe comedian with real insight is one of the hardest things to do, and Bert has done it. There are spoilers ahead so go watch it, then come back and read the rest. We’ll wait.
The Interrobang: Congratulations on the special. It’s scary funny. It’s so hard to push boundaries in a time when it feels like they’ve all been pushed. But you have a reputation as a comic that you’re is going to shock, and break boundaries. And you’ve done that.
Bert Kreischer: It’s the boundary that… I had to have the awkward conversation with my daughters last night at dinner and go, “Dad did this special and he shits all over you guys, but you know I love you, right? You can’t watch it if you’re on your bus to school and your friends are like, ‘Hey, your dad’s on Netflix.’ You’re not allowed to watch it.”
The Interrobang: But they’re going to see it, right? Their friends are going to see it.
Bert Kreischer: We’re having a viewing party, Sunday afternoon at 2:00 in the afternoon at our friend’s house. It’s an edited viewing party, so it’s not any sex jokes, but it’s all the jokes about … Because I use my kids’ friends real names in it. I use everyone’s real name and I cleared it with everyone and we had to get … Like Lily Frompkin’s dad and mom had to sign a release saying we could say her name. But so we’re having a viewing party where we’re not going to talk about the sex stuff and nothing that like … Because all the stories are true, and so they’re going to lose their mind when they see the way I tell them.
The Interrobang: Your last special you told that’s almost the definitive story. How do you top it? That story was designed to never be able to be topped.
Bert Kreischer: I said the same damn thing. I was like, “What am I going to do next?” I was like, “I didn’t do anything bigger than rob a train in Russia with the mafia.” That’s it. That’s my tent-pole.
The Interrobang: You also have crossed a boundary here with the way you talk about real people in your life. Was that conscious? Was that “I’m going to do this because I’ve got to do something that no one’s ever done.” Is that the thought behind it?
Bert Kreischer: No. I really wish it was. I really, really wish it was. I swear to God. It’s almost like, I feel like if you asked an old Vietnamese lady, “What’s your thought into cooking pho?” She’s like, “I don’t know. It’s just how I do it. My mom did it this way. I don’t know.” I wish I could say I was cognitive about what material I was going to do on this special or how I was going to set it up, but it was just the stuff that was making me giggle at the time and there’s times … When I went zip lining with my family, in the middle of that zip lining, I was like, “Hey, does anyone have a pen and paper because this is going to be a huge bit.” Every legit comedy fan knows that The Store just opened up where a lot of more comics could work there, and I so started working The Store like probably four years ago, five years ago and a throwaway joke I had was the pajamas joke about my dad and Adam Eget pulled me aside one night and was like, “Bro, that is my favorite joke.” I was like, “Really?” It literally just felt like that. Rogan pulled me aside and going, “Oh my god. Please tell me that’s a joke.” You’re like, “It is now.”
The Interrobang: Well, one of my favorite types of comedy is when you start to hear something and you go, “No, no, no. That’s wrong. I’m sorry. That’s just wrong.” Then, a few seconds later, you’re going, “Okay. It’s wrong, but it’s funny.” Then, a few seconds after that, you’re just like, “You know what? It’s not even wrong. This is perfect.”
Bert Kreischer: Yeah. I feel the same way. I said to someone, I said something really fucked up at a dinner party the other night and everyone was like, “Whoa.” As soon as everyone went, “Whoa,” I went, “Okay. If I can find a funny way out of this, that’s how a bit works.” Because you want everyone to be like, “Burr’s the king of it,” but you want everyone to go, “How is this going to be a joke?” Then, you’re like, “I got you.”
The Interrobang: Absolutely. This special is just full that. When you had the talk with your kids, what do they say?
Bert Kreischer: It was last night. Last night, I knew I was going into press and the first couple of things I had done, they were like, “Yo, are your kids going to watch this? What are you going to tell your kids?” I had really put no thought into that. It’s like every comic will tell you when you start writing jokes about your kids and your wife, you don’t ever expect them to hear it and you definitely don’t ever expect to get on Netflix. Then, when you get on Netflix, you realize, “Oh, that’s in everyone’s hands all day long.” I said to the girls last night, I go, “Just so you know, I tell jokes about you guys in the special. You guys know that, right?” They’re like, “Mom told us that they’re grown up jokes, but that you love us.” I was like, “I love you very much.” Ila’s like, “What do you say about us?” I go, “Well, I call you guys fucking idiots and morons and ninnies,” and Ila’s like, “Well, like how?” I walked them through one of the more innocuous stories of Ila pushing the shopping cart at the store and Ila goes, “Okay. Yeah. That’s fine.” Then, I’d walk them through stuff and it was funny but Georgia, I would tell them, and Georgia would go, “That’s true. That happened.” I was like, “Yeah. I know. That’s why I shared it.” She’s like, “People laugh at that?” I’m like, “Yep.”
I said to Georgia, “I just want you to be prepared if people at school are like, ‘Yo, you believed in Santa Claus until last year?’ You just got to be like … You can totally say your dad makes stuff up, your dad’s a comedian, he writes, it’s all fiction, you can say whatever you want to say about me. Okay?” She was like, “But I did believe in Santa Claus until last year.” I was like, “Yeah, I know.” She goes, “What’s wrong with that?” I was like, “Georgia, no one believes in Santa Claus until eighth grade.”
The Interrobang: Well, wait. Wasn’t that your job though? Weren’t you supposed to tell her about Santa?
Bert Kreischer: Oh Deb, I fucked that up massively. I told this story to Bill Burr and he literally was like, “Bro, that’s not cool.” They tried to GoPro Santa Claus. I’m sure this will be a bit one day. It should have been in this special. They tried to GoPro Santa Claus and so I saw them doing it, so I took their footage and I spliced it and then at one point, I walk into the living room and get under the chimney with bells on and a flashlight and I jingle around. Then, I turn the GoPro against the wall, and then I walk around the living room and then I showed it to them, like I spliced me walking in and out and I showed it to them and I showed it to them in front of my dad and my dad saw it that and he was like, “Wait. Wait.” He was like, “How’s this happening?” I’m giggling. Then, my daughters walked away and he goes, “There’s no Santa Claus.” I go, “No. Shit, dad. It’s me. I edited it.” He’s like, “You just showed that to your daughters?” He was like, “Buddy, you might be fucking your kids up.”
The Interrobang: Well, there’s no harm in the long run. Maybe things are weird for a few years, but no harm.
Bert Kreischer: Yeah. I hope, right? They don’t join a cult when they’re 18 because Santa Claus meant so much to them. “Ho, ho, ho, ho.”
The Interrobang: Well, the funny thing is you start off the stuff about your kids saying your kids are dumb as fuck like legit, but I don’t know anyone who’s going to watch this and not think that your kids are brilliant. Some of the stories about your youngest daughter in particular, I feel like you may have given birth to the next Andy Kaufman.
Bert Kreischer: She is a really interesting child. I never liked comics who would be like, “I got a big dick” on stage. You’d be like, “What? Why would you share with us?” I always like the Howard Sterns who were like, “Oh, I’m hung like a Tic-Tac.” I think a little self-deprecation goes a long way with an audience. I don’t think any parent out there goes through a day 100% like, “God damn. My kids are killing it.” Even Tom Brady’s dad had to be like, “I don’t know, man. He doesn’t work out enough in my opinion.” I think I just approached it with like 100% honestly hat in hand like, “Oh, yeah. My kids are idiots.”
I think I just noticed that more parents were like, “Oh my god. We have an Ila.” So much to the point like some parents have named their kids Ila. Someone emailed us and goes, “Hey, how do you spell Ila’s name? We’re going to have a daughter. We want to name her Ila. We love the name and the stories make us laugh.” Ila was recognized at the grocery store the other day. We’re arguing out loud over whether or not “Son of a bitch” is a curse word and this dad just turns around, and she goes, “It’s definitely a curse word.” I go, “It’s not a curse word, Ila. You can say son of a bitch as much as you want. It’s not a curse word.” This dad turns around almost about to be offended and then he goes, “Oh my god. The Machine.” Then, he goes “Ila.” Ila’s like, “How the hell do you know me?”
The Interrobang: Did she like it or was it just weird?
Bert Kreischer: No, she did not like it. She did not like it at allMy kids for as much as I talk about them, they’re very regular. They understand I do comedy, but they don’t understand that all my friends are very successful comedians and famous and they call them all by their nicknames. Like Joey Diaz, they just call “Uncle Joey.” They call Tom, “Tommy Buns.” They call Christina Pazsitzky, “Bush.” The other day, Ila goes, “Hey, do I know who Joe Rogan is?” I said, “Yeah. Remember we went to his house and we were playing with their chickens.” She was like, “Wait. Oh, yeah. The guy with the tattoos, he’s Joe Rogan?” I go, “Yep. That’s Joe Rogan.” She’s like, “Oh, okay.”
The Interrobang: One of the greatest moments in this special, it’s because of you, but it’s not even you, it’s the reaction that you get from this Philadelphia audience when you tell the story about your daughter practicing baseball without a ball. You knew you were going to get a reaction. Did you know it was going to be that great?
Bert Kreischer: No. That story has been, I wouldn’t say hit or miss, but in a weird way depending on how I deliver it, hit or miss. Sometimes people will get what happened and sometimes … It’s my fault for whatever reason, sometimes they don’t and in that show, it just landed and I went, “Oh, thank God.” You get one chance to tell these jokes and it just landed.
They were losing their mind. Yeah. Thank God they shared it the same way I shared it.
The Interrobang: Why Philly? What made you choose Philly for this?
Bert Kreischer: Honestly, I was looking at my calendar and I was trying to find a venue like a town that I hadn’t performed the hour in because I wanted the hour to be fresh to them, and I went through and I saw that I had Philly on my calendar in December. I was supposed to be at Helium and I’ve always had a good following in Philly. My mom’s from Philly. My dad went to high school in Philly, and I knew that the last story I told happened at basketball camp in Philly. It was either Philly or DC. Part of me knew that the draw I had in Philly was real big, so we booked out The Troc and we tried to do two shows and I think we ended up doing six.
It was like four warm-up shows. Then, taped two of them, and the venue is beautiful, and Segura also talked to me and he was like, “Dude.” I talked to him about a couple of venues and he’s like, “All the venues in DC are 2,000 seaters. They’re way big. You want something intimate. You don’t want a rock club. You don’t want a comedy club. You want like a big rock club.” He’s like, “I think The Troc’s great.” It was as … No joke. As simple as, and as silly as Segura texting the booker at The Troc being like, “Bert wants to do his special there.” Guys like, “I can’t make an offer while he’s got a date at Helium.” We pulled the Helium date and then went to The Troc. Then, said we want to do the special there.
The Interrobang: The crowd is the perfect reaction to some of these stories. It’s obviously going to be way different than an LA audience would be.
Bert Kreischer: Yeah. I think I’m staying on the East Coast for all of my specials to be dead honest with you. It’s so funny. My two daughters were in Philly when we were taping. They were just visiting family, so I have like 10 uncles who live there. I’ve got maybe 150 cousins. Right before I left to go to the taping, my oldest daughter was like, “Hey, dad. Break a leg.” I go, “Thanks, Georgia.” Then, Ila goes, “Hey, dad. Break both of your legs.” My wife goes, ” Ila, that’s not why they say that. They say that because in Shakespearian times, you couldn’t clap, you’d have to stomp, so you would hope that all the people in the room would break their legs.” Ila goes, “How many people in the audience?” LeAnn’s like, “600.” She goes, “Wow. Well then, break 1,200 legs.”
There’s a point in this special you can hear it, when I tell the joke about bringing a beer into a parent-teacher conference. I don’t realize I don’t have a diet Coke, I have a Coors Light. When I said I put the beer to my lips and realized, “I have a Coors Light.” The place went nuts and I said that’s a game-time decision where you got to realize what kind of man you are. It’s like a finger in your ass at an orgy. Do you pull away from it or do you push back into it? As soon as I said, “Push back into it,” they started stomping so hard in The Troc that I thought we’re going to lose audio. We’re going to lose a balcony. Oh my god. I heard my daughter going, “Break 1,200 legs.” I was like, “Oh, this is the show. This is the show.”
The Interrobang: I didn’t even have to ask if it was a true story. There’s no way you would have told that if that wasn’t a true story.
Bert Kreischer: 100% true. 100% true. I dare you in an early morning hungover state, put in six Coors Lights, and six Diet Cokes and just reach in confidently and see which one you come out. It’s a 50/50 choice.gro
The Interrobang: I’m telling you this, it’s so hard to be a standout special right now with specials coming out more than one a week, and this is such a standout special. Seriously Bert, congratulations.
Bert Kreischer: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. That’s maybe honestly the nicest thing I’ve heard. Thank you so much.