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The Big Questions featuring comedian, Travel Channel's Bert Kreischer

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Bert Kreischer came in Friday and completely took over The Big Questions Podcast — in the best possible way.

The high-energy comedian and host of Travel Channel’s “Trip Flip” didn’t even let me get the show intro out before he launched into ruminations on podcasts, the business of book writing and how “The Time Traveler’s Wife” makes him sob like a baby.

Below is an excerpt of our talk, but the entire conversation can be downloaded via SoundCloud or streamed on YouTube. “The Big Questions” is part of the Sun-Times Media Local Podcast Network.

Q: What does being on the road all the time do to you? Is your brain constantly trying to catch up?

Kreischer: I explained this to someone very candidly, I said, “Oh you just got to have two personalities. You gotta have the road you and then you have to have family you. Because when you go home I turn it off, almost entirely. For the most part it’s straight up — dad. My wife is like, “That’s really unhealthy for you to have two personalities.”

Because you have to do dangerous stuff and when you do something dangerous, you just gotta go, “I’m gonna get through it, I’m gonna live through it. ... It’s not that bad. My kids are going to have a dad.” Because if you start thinking about that you’ll loose your [effing] mind.

Q: Just for listeners who might not know, some of your exploits. You’ve had a bunch of shows named after you — “Hurt Bert,” “Bert the Conqueror” — you’ve had to fight a bear, be rodeo clown, jump out of a plane ...

Kreischer: I was the first person to jump off the Stratosphere, and that was the first time that it really hit me. I remember lying in bed going, “I am a dad. I love my kids. All I want to do is hang out with my kids ... and have a glass of wine at the end of the night and watch the sunset with my wife in the backyard as the kids are on the trampoline. That’s all I want. And I am not doing that.

Q: Again, just from listening to the podcast I hear that you’re trying to change some of those behaviors, especially how you go to sleep. How are you sleeping?

Kreischer: I used to have to medicate myself to sleep, have a bottle of wine and then I would go to sleep. On the nights I didn’t drink I would take half a Xanax to get to sleep. Or I would take Nyquil. I couldn’t lay in bed, because the second I laid in bed, my brain would go crazy. I would start thinking. ... It is where I got anxiety.

It blew my mind that people actually say good night to everyone and choose to go to bed.

It’s based on my parents. My parents never gave me a bedtime. So I would stay up until midnight. Because I was like, how do you fall asleep? I didn’t know. I never learned how to fall asleep.

Within the last couple of months, I just started going, “I’m so tired of this, why can’t I just be a grown up who goes to bed? And so I would get in bed and put head on pillow and just close my eyes and start relaxing. And then I would fall asleep. It sounds so crazy.

Q: Is that the goal, to stop drinking? Because drinking is so part of your stage persona.

Kreischer: My goal is, and I have stated this ever since I was 22, is to always to be able to enjoy a margarita at sunset on a beach. Always! That’s my goal. I think what is happened is, the older you get ... I’ve been waking up with anxiety attacks at 4 in the morning. A lot, lately. So I will just start panicking and thinking about mortality and how short life is.

Q: To back up for audiences who might not know, there is a circuitous route in which the movie “Van Wilder” was loosely inspired by your college experience at Florida State.

Kreischer: That is the most brilliant way to say it. However, if you say that on radio, and you’re 30 years old, no one listens. But if you say, “The movie ‘Van Wilder’ is based on my life.” Bam! “Shut up, we got the real Van Wilder!”

They did it today for the intro, for the TV show we did was like a clip from “Van Wilder” ... and I was like, I had nothing to do with that. It is so not me.

Q: But again, that’s what makes you fascinating, is you have built this legend that you are in the process of climbing out of.

Kreischer: I don’t know if I am trying to climb out ...

We did just develop a sitcom and that questioning entirely encompasses the sitcom. The executives were like, “What is going on with Bert? Does he not want to be this guy or does he want to be this guy?” We were talking about me in the third person. I said, “He’s always going to be this guy. But he isn’t grown up and he doesn’t understand you can’t be this guy forever.” However, I can always be a little of that guy.

Bert Kreischer is performing tonight, March 14, and Saturday, March 15 at the Chicago Improv in Schaumburg. For tickets and info visit chicago.improv.com.

For more information about Kreischer and his upcoming book, “Life of the Party,” visit: bertbertbert.com.

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