Authors: Bert Kreischer
Tags: #Humor, #Form, #Essays, #Biography & Autobiography, #Entertainment & Performing Arts
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In fear of forgetting to thank someone important for the help in making this book possible, I would like to simply thank my family.
Dad, you footed the bill for a lot of these stories, so you may not want to read past this page. In all seriousness, you have always told me to write a book, and here it is. Thank you for making me the man I am today. You’ll never know how important that one phone call on my twenty-sixth birthday was.
Mom, you have been my champion since I was a little boy. You have had my back since that first fly ball I caught, spiked, and started dancing in the infield. As the coaches screamed, the bases cleared, and Denny Sullivan yelled, “Put some mustard on that hot dog,” you cheered in the stands for me. I can’t imagine who I’d be without your love and support.
To my sisters, Annie and Kottie, you didn’t really do much to help me write this book, shape me, or support me. This book would be just as good had you done nothing, which you kind of did. Really, you two have just been there, like two gas stations you pass by every day on your way to work. Maybe I’ll stop and get a coffee, maybe a donut, some gas, whatever … just kidding. I love you like sisters, BIG TEAM!
To my daughters, Georgia and Ila, I love you SO much more than my sisters. You guys gave me purpose, direction, and a reason to slow down. Ironically, you are also the reasons I work so hard. Considering you guys are only seven and nine right now, I’ll keep it simple. Realize, if and when you read this book, that your dad is ALSO the guy who taught you to ride your bikes, played monkey in the middle with you, and kissed you four times every night I tucked you into bed. Nailed it! Oh it is on! My only hope is that this book is out of print by the time you go to college.
LeeAnn, you are simply the greatest person to ever come into my life. You are not only the reason this book is complete, you are the reason that I am complete. I wake up every day the happiest man in the world, thanking God I have you in my life. Thank you for your absolute selflessness day in and day out. I only hope that one day the roles can be reversed and I can be as selfless for you as you have been for me. I love you, baby doll!
Bong hits are like strippers: they’re best when shared with a group of friends. That’s what I was doing—taking a bong hit among friends—when I got the phone call that would change my life. There have been a handful of times when I knew without a doubt that my life was now changing. All of them are in this book, and none of them would have happened if it weren’t for this one phone call.
magazine,” my roommate Blair said, passing me the phone. “They asked for you.” Had I known what was coming, I might have paid more attention, but I was a sixth-year senior with no plans beyond that toke and my next game of Frisbee golf. So instead, I held in the smoke and bubbled out a hello. As best I can recall, the man on the other end explained that he was a journalist and was interested in writing an article on my college, Florida State University, being “The Number One Party School in the Country.” He needed a tour guide, he said, who knew the school inside and out. Since my name had been brought up by nearly everyone he had spoken with, he wondered if there was a good week in November for him to fly down and “observe.” I agreed to show him around as the bong made its way back in front of me.
I heard him laugh. “Are you doing a bong hit?”
“Yup,” I said, trying not to lose any smoke.
He laughed again, “Perfect!” and hung up.
I was, in fact, the perfect host for a journalist—I had been at the school longer than most of the teachers and knew everyone there was to know. Also, silence makes me uncomfortable, so I talk to fill dead air. Little did I know, I was about to become the subject of a six-and-a-half-page article in
Soon everyone would learn that I skipped class, smoked weed, drank excessively, threw outrageous parties, didn’t wear condoms, and was willing to shit in public if it meant winning an election—all details I poured onto the writer. At the time I was just hoping one of these stories would make it into the article, maybe followed by a flattering picture that I could frame on my wall to remind me of my college experience. I never could have expected what was to follow. My dad was the first one to call me, at 8
on April 1, 1997.
“What the fuck did you do? I have news people camped out in front of our house, and the phone is ringing off the hook.”
As if straight out of a movie (and soon it would become one: National Lampoon’s
even though it didn’t end up resembling my life much at all), the doorbell rang. With the phone still in my hand, and my dad still shouting on the other end of the line, I opened the door to a UPS man holding the most important parcel I’d ever receive: my issue of
. I hung up with my dad, plopped down on the couch, and flipped to the article titled, “The Undergraduate.”
The first paragraph literally brought tears to my eyes. Of all the emotions that ran through my heart that day, the one that held anchor was pride—pride that I had honestly portrayed what life at FSU had been like.
And FSU had been a dream to me. I had wanted to attend since I visited as a junior in high school and was blown away by how beautiful the campus was. University of Florida was flat, spread out, and too clean, like a ninth-grade girl with daddy issues. University of Central Florida was too new and barely had alumni. University of Miami was in god-awful Miami. But FSU was lush, rich, colorful, full of hills. At UF, UCF, or USF, you needed a car to get from class to class, an idea I wasn’t into. At FSU, where the female undergrads outnumbered the men three to one, all you needed to get by was basic conversation skills.
My first day on campus, I fell in love nine times, made five new friends, got drunk, got high, and managed to go to orientation. That first semester, I passed all my classes with only minimal attendance and effort. And that became my credo: Take the classes that people told you were easy, show up when need be, and party. I won’t say all the kids who attended FSU were only there to party, but all the kids
knew were there for the exact same reason: to have a good time and get a college degree.
I learned to drink … a lot. I also learned that when drinking, I could make people laugh, and often found myself at the head of a table. I enjoyed being the center of attention, the life of the party. By the time
found me, I had developed a reputation as the guy you
to party with.
After the article came out, things got weird. It’s hard to picture now, with reality TV making the outrageous seem so mundane, but in 1997 with no precedent like Snooki or Honey Boo Boo, a college kid talking candidly about living a carefree life of excess got the media’s attention. TV shows came to Tallahassee to meet me, radio stations called every fifteen minutes from as far away as Australia, ESPN sent a pre-
Johnny Knoxville to party with me on a tour bus, and for one semester, I was truly famous in the town I cherished. As I sat next to recently drafted running back Warrick Dunn during graduation, talking about our big future plans for our now famous selves, I thought to myself,
I must be the luckiest man in the world.
What I didn’t know then was that one of my writing teachers had overheard someone making the (false) claim that I had a book deal with Random House, and that he had therefore decided to fail me out of spite. Having spent six and a half years working the system, I knew it was almost unheard of to fail a graduating senior. So the next week, I went to the instructor’s office and made the plea the administration office had informed me was necessary.
He stopped me mid-sentence. “I don’t give a shit, you can go fuck yourself. I’m not gonna help you. You have skipped through life without a care in the world and succeeded. Now you have a movie deal, a book deal, a stand-up comedy career … you’re famous, why do you need a college degree? Go out to Hollywood and make your millions.”
“But I’m only three credits short and yours is a creative writing class, it’s a subjective grade … or objective. I always get those mixed up.”
He didn’t laugh. He leaned forward in his chair and seethed, “I’ve been writing my whole adult life and I take it very seriously. And here you come—blacking out, smoking pot, shitting, skipping classes, and you get a book deal? And, to make things even worse, you and your party lifestyle have sullied the very university I am trying to get my degree from. I will never pass you. I’m not going to help you, and there’s nothing you can do to change my mind. Please leave my office.”
Dumbstruck, I walked out of his office and left Florida State for good. As it turned out, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I moved to New York to start a career in stand-up comedy that has taken me around the world and onto stages in places I could have never imagined.
First, however, at the insistence of my father, I had to enroll (via correspondence) in what turned out to be the two hardest classes I had ever taken. These were pre-Internet classes, just a box of books and a test sent to me through the State of Florida, the same classes given to inmates at correctional facilities. In the end, I managed to get the credits I needed to get my degree, and today I sit here, a forty-year-old college graduate (barely), sincerely wondering: What if I had studied harder? What if I had partied less, taken life more seriously, not fucked around at every opportunity, and focused more on academics like every teacher I ever had told me I should?
I’m not sure what the answer is, but I can say with 100 percent certainty that had I been more serious and more focused, I wouldn’t be doing what I do now: making people laugh for a living. I wouldn’t be selling out comedy clubs, I wouldn’t be appearing regularly on radio and television, and I definitely wouldn’t be hosting my own TV shows. I would have never robbed a train with the Russian mafia, swam with great white sharks, fought a bear, played arena football, been mauled by a bull, jumped out of an airplane with Rachael Ray, partied with David Lee Roth, or thrown Johnny Knoxville down a flight of stairs.
I would have absolutely nothing to write about, and maybe I’d be just as bitter as the teacher who told me to go fuck myself fifteen years ago.
I don’t remember that teacher’s name, but I hope he is still sitting in his tiny closet of an office, reading this paragraph. He definitely remembers me, and if by chance you are reading this: Teacher, I hope this book makes you angry beyond belief, and frustrated that you never got out of Tallhassee and lived a life worth writing about. And even more angry knowing full well that I just misspelled Tallahassee.
Worthy Keeper of the Annals
I’ve never suffered from stage fright. As a matter of fact I suffer from the exact opposite of stage fright. I suffer from the fear of not getting on stage, of not grabbing the spotlight, of letting a potentially magical moment slip by. I’m not sure what drives it, nor am I sure how to control it, all I know is that I will give a three count of noble “
” before I risk making a complete ass out of myself.
“Bert, you should get up there and say something!”
“Seriously, the mic is open.”
“I think it’s a bad idea.”
“It would be hilarious…”
And I’m off. There have been some beauties and some beasts (more often than not beasts). And it’s those ugly ones that are generally remembered the longest.