Quickly becoming one of television’s worst-kept secrets, Travel Channel host & comedian Bert Kreischer has been endearing the world over, on and off the screen. Recounting hilarious adventures like wrestling bears with marshmallows and being fired from Barnes & Nobles for working out in the basement, Kreischer’s stories can be found almost everywhere. Starting tonight on his new Travel Channel series Trip Flip, Kreischer adds to his collection of tales, as he takes two unsuspecting members of the public on the vacation of a lifetime.
For the past two years, Kreischer has been host of Travel Channel’s Bert the Conqueror, a series which earned him the title of “reluctant daredevil.” Up for any type adventure, though fearful of many of them, Bert the Conqueror’s appeal was not simply from watching Kreischer “conquer” the activity placed before him, but it was also from watching him conquer his own fears – which are many.
From a fear of flying, to a fear of heights, to a fear being [anything] by [anything], Kreischer perfectly fits in with the hilarious honesty that the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Adam Richman have become known for. Often breaking the “typical hosting rules” to question the safety of what he’s about to do, Kreischer’s cautious optimism always makes for entertaining viewing as he completes the challenge given to him.
By being asked to do so many crazy, sometimes dangerous, activities, Kreischer uses Google to calculate his likelihood of surviving each stunt. Doing what any sane person would do if asked to do something they were afraid of, Kreischer’s Internet searches about potential accidents relieved him before bungee jumping. As he’s said previously,“you’ll find almost nothing.” Skydiving, however, has a “surprisingly high number” of incidents. Even so, Kreischer, like always, pushed through his fears and jumped out of a plane.
Powerful Bert Kreischer hotel room art
Having Rachel Ray with him certainly helped, but Kreischer admits that he only jumped out of that plane because of Laureen Ong, president of Travel Channel:
I called Laureen and said, ‘I jumped out of a plane, and I did this because you’re a great boss!’
She didn’t even say ‘Thank you’. She said, ‘Listen, don’t ever do anything you’re not comfortable doing. We do not need you to get hurt. No one makes money if you’re hurt. No one is happy if you’re hurt.’
No doubt a comforting response, Ong’s comments reiterates the feeling of family that all of the network’s hosts feel. “I wish I could go into better the things that would make people uncomfortable with me saying, because the way that they take care of us is beyond comprehension” says Kreischer. Adam Richman’s move from the Man vs. Food series to Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich In America, to make sure the host doesn’t continue to overindulge himself in unhealthy eating competitions, is the most public example of what Kreischer was referring to.
Having worked at other networks, Kreischer knows what it’s like to have his fears about stunts realized, and for the network to not care about his safety:
When I was on Hurt Bert on FX – and I’m not crapping on FX, I’m just being honest – there was a point when I realized that they didn’t care if I died. If I died, they’d say ‘Of course it’s a legal thing, but think of the numbers.’
I genuinely got mauled by a bull. The bull broke my ribs, broke my foot, and they came up to me and said, ‘Listen, We need you to get in the barrel.’ I was like, ‘What?!’
Trip Flip in New Orleans
Of course, even though Bert’s new series, Trip Flip, takes away from continuous stunts – instead allowing him to gift a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to people on the street – he still has to deal with his fears. What’s different is that now he also has to make sure that people they select for the trip have as much fun as possible – so the days of being tricked into jumping off of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, by his cameraman, are over. Kreischer admitted that his fear of flying is getting better, and he’s still going through with activities that make him take pause.
While filming an upcoming episode of Trip Flip, Kreischer recounts to us how he was able to back out of jumping off of a high cliff in Scotland, while also making sure that his guests had the best time of their life:
I don’t want anyone doing anything they’re uncomfortable with, so I will do whatever they’re doing first, or as many times as it takes, in order to get them comfortable. But I also don’t want anyone to go home and say, ‘Ah, I wish I had done that..’
So there’s a 65ft cliff face – it’s a huge cliff you have to jump off of at the peak. It’s 65ft at the top. The dude and I go up there, and we get up to the top – and we get up to the top where you can look over. He looks at me and said, ‘Are you going to do it?’ I said, ‘I’ll do it first if you need me to.’ He said, ‘No, I need to go first. If I watch you, I won’t go.’ He gets up on the top, and I see him up there trembling and swaying – and I start panicking. He jumps off the tall one, sticks it, and the valley goes crazy!
Bert Kreischer in Edinburgh, Scotland for Trip Flip
At that moment I was like, ‘I can’t do it! I can’t do it!’ So I lean down and say, ‘I don’t want to steal your thunder; this is your vacation! You’re the man! I’m going to walk back down!’
I totally wimped out and jumped off of the 55ft one. Even jumping off of that one, I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is insane!’
But if he wouldn’t have jumped off it first, I would have, just to make him comfortable.
Currently in New York filming an episode of Trip Flip, Kreischer may have averted any type of fear inducing stunts (besides the plane trip there), though the same can’t be said for tonight’s premiere. In New Orleans, to tackle the best of what they have to offer, Kreischer boards a seaplane with his unsuspecting vacationers – one of whom also has a fear of flying. While none of Kreischer’s potential concerns about the plane made it to the episode, we know they were there.
It’s only just a matter of time before we hear the story about them.
You can check out Bert explaining Trip Flip below:
Trip Flip airs Thursdays @9pm on Travel Channel
Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio