The Fatherly Questionnaire: Bert “The Machine” Kreischer
How the top partier in the United States grew up and learned to parent
It’s rare than an epithet attached to us as teenagers fits us as middle-aged men. But Bert Kreischer, dubbed “top partier at the Number One Party School” n 1997 Rolling Stone article, “The Machine” still made sense. Famous for the seven years he spent raging at Florida State University, Kreischer parlayed his notoriety into a career as an “extreme” reality television host and stand-up comedian. The Van Wilder movies helped. Kreischer, somewhat famously, inspired them. Ryan Reynold was doing an impression of “The Machine,” giving the man even more party cred.
Then Kreischer’s first daughter was born and the ultimate frat dude realized he had to pivot.
“I was sitting with a CBS executive pitching a sitcom where I’d play a wild and crazy guy and I realized that’s just not who I was anymore,” Kreischer recalls. Instead of going full Belushi, Kreischer took a gig as the host for the Travel Channel’s Bert the Conqueror, wrote a book, Life of the Party: Stories of a Perpetual Man-Child, got a stand up special on Showtime, and started a podcast, Bertcast. He juggled all of that with a happy home life and gigs on the road while he’s tempering his material and his public persona.
“Knowing my daughters might listen,” he says, “I can talk about putting a carrot in my wife’s ass anymore.” He took The Fatherly Questionnaire from his home in Los Angeles.
What is your name?
Comedian. Author. Podcaster. Actor. Television Host.
How old are your children?
11 and 13
What are their names?
My older daughter is named Georgia. My youngest is named Ila. It’s an old redneck spelling.
Are they named after anyone in particular?
My wife is from Georgia and she loves that name. Ila is named after a drunk aunt. She was a chain-smoking, heavily drinking, interesting human being.
Do you have any cute nicknames for your children?
My wife is the queen of nicknames. Georgia is G-Mac, G Macaroon Toon, The Blonde Bombshell. (She’s blond.) Ila is Baby I, IBay and Brownie. I call Georgia George and, if I all Ila anything, it is I.
What do they call you?
They have a hundred nicknames for me, the last of which is dad: Bertie Gaga. Bertrude. Bertrude McFuzz. Bertingulous Boy. They called be Bruh for a while, which I hated. I always just wanted to be called Dad but it doesn’t happen.
How often do you see them?
I do stand up on the road three times a month so sometimes I’m gone for two weeks. But I’m trying to stay closer to home now.
Describe yourself as a father in three words.
Selfish. Mediocre. Loving. There are dads who kill it; I’m not one of those dads.
Describe your father in three words.
[Pause] Lovingly Old School. My father grew up in Levittown, LI, in the first tract housing built for G.I.’s. His dad had stormed the beaches of Omaha and died when my father was very young. My dad had to raise himself, pretty much.
What are your strengths as a father?
My sense of humor, my childish energy and my empathy.
What are your weaknesses as a father? Relatedly, what is your biggest regret as a father?
My biggest regret is by far doing the Travel Channel show, Bert the Adventurer .I spent seven years away from my family. I don’t regret the job or working for the channel; I regret being away from home. On my grave, I will regret that. There will be times, I’m sure, when I’m 65 and I’ll wake up and say, “What the fuck were you thinking?” But at the time I was afraid that my career wouldn’t work out. I’ll take this job and I can get us a house and provide for my family. But I ended up missing some of the most important years with my kids.
What is your favorite activity to do with your children, that is, your special father-kid thing?
With Georgia, when ever we’re on vacation, we get up at 6 am and take a walk. Just the two of us. With Ila, as strange as it sounds, it’s letting her bully me, whether its her pressuring me to jump in a pool or eat a dozen donuts. I love that crazy complex bully energy about her.
What has been the moment you were most proud as a parent?
Teaching both my daughters to ride bikes and to swim. I was super calm and relaxed in all four processes, which were quite different.
What heirloom did your father give to you, if any?
My second freshman year of college, that’s year two of seven, my father got very sick and though he was going to die. He gave me a Rolex, a bottom of the line one. I wore that watch everyday. He didn’t die. On my 40th birthday, he gave me a very nice Rolex that belonged to him. That’s the one thing we connect on: the watch.
What heirloom do you want to leave for your children, if anything?
I have maybe 1,000 hours of podcasts and maybe 10,000 hours of standup on video and audio. When I’m dead, that’ll be my children’s biggest connection to me. They can listen to me talking to people who are very famous or dead or neither. I can’t imagine I’ll have anything of value other than that.
Describe the “Dad Special” for dinner?
Tilapia. It makes both my daughters feel grown up. I used to say they had thumb tongues. All they ate was toast, mac and cheese and cheese sandwiches. Then we got Blue Apron and it’s changed our family dynamic immensely. I can make things like tilapia which my daughters love.
Are you religious and are you raising your children in that tradition?
I’m ten times more religious than anyone else in my familym but no. I grew up Catholic and still feel a lot of Catholic guilt. But my wife is not religious so we’re not raising our daughters religiously.
What’s a mistake you made growing up that you wan to ensure your children do not repeat?
Doing so many drugs and losing my virginity too young. I started smoking weed at age 14 and moved on to coke, ecstasy, hallucinogens and pills. I hope, when my daughters go to college and someone asks them, “Hey, wanna do some coke?” they say no. Also, I lost my virginity when I was seventeen. I wasn’t ready, mentally or emotionally, and started getting panic attacks since then. I want my daughters to make educated and informed decisions about those life moments.
How do you make sure your kids know you love them?
I give them four kisses on the cheek. Though they’ll never know this, when I’m on the road, I always take the earliest flight back home. Even if I have three shows on Sunday and get done at 3 a.m., I take the 6 a.m. flight back home. When I do drop-off at school, I yell I LOVE YOU as loud as I can.