Bert Kreischer sits in a lounge chair next to a pool in LA and is smoking a cigar with his shirt off and a pair of flip-flops dangling off his feet, which are themselves dangling off the edge of the lounge chair. I am smoking a Camel Blue and inhale roughly every thirty-seven seconds. We are both hooked up to IVs, which drip like you would expect an IV to drip. He got us both The Works with extra B12 as an add-on at an additional cost. He is paying. He always pays for my IV drips when he takes me out with him.
Bert Kreischer is sitting in an ergonomically-sound office chair and is wearing headphones over a ball cap with a flat brim that has “100%” sewn onto it, a phrase that he often says when he is in complete agreement with someone to whom he is speaking. The hat is custom fitted to his head’s specifications. I bought it for him as a gift the last time he took me out on tour. He is speaking into the microphone in front of him and he is telling Joe Rogan that he believes in friendship and is thankful for Joe’s friendship. He then says he is trying to be a better person and to not talk shit about others anymore. He then says that he lifts his balls and wipes his ass back to front and asks if that is weird. I’ve heard him ask this before.
They are drinking Buffalo Trace Whiskey and I am silent in a corner of the room where the cameras will not catch me. Before we entered Joe’s studio in Austin, TX, Bert told me I am here because I belong here, and also to learn. I can’t smoke in the studio, so I don’t, but that makes me feel really tense. I can’t enjoy where I am when I can’t smoke Camel Cigarettes. The podcast lasts five and one-half hours. By the time it is over, everyone is blackout drunk, including the engineer and myself. There will be IV drips in the hotel room in the morning. We will feel better. Bert records some drops for MeUndies and ButcherBox for use on another podcast before we leave.
Bert Kreischer is sitting in the green room of Comedy on State in Madison, WI and he is sober, preferring not to touch the Tito’s and Soda until almost the very end of the early show, when he starts to tell The Machine Story. There are other amenities that he had requested in the room. Culver’s, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King all mix and mingle in the still air of the room, and the smell grows thick and loathsome after a while. It is a heavy grease kind of a smell, but we hunger anyway. Bert puts Fire Sauce on a Whopper and tucks some Culver’s Curds into a Supreme Taco. He is disappointed that the tacos from Taco Bell did not come in one of those long taco boxes and were instead thrown into a sack and set on the table. But he perseveres. I eat a Big Mac on which I have placed the contents of a scooped-out Taco Supreme and then I try to sandwich a Crunch Wrap into a Culver’s Double Bacon Deluxe, but am only moderately successful. Bert Kreischer smiles and laughs that manic laugh of his.
I take the stage after smoking a Camel Blue in the green room, which, I am not supposed to do. My guts are a mess. When I am done Bert says that, in general, I’d done well, but that I could tag the one bit I have about lesbian retirees with a punchier punch. He hasn’t thought of anything to suggest, but assures me he will. After the second show, Bert Kreischer invites the crowd to the Buck and Badger, just across the street, to drink with us. The bar is packed and Bert Kreischer is having his Tito’s and Soda and I am having a Jack Daniels and Diet Coke and plan on having a Stella Artois later. It’s all comped. The Buck and Badger knows the score. Bert Kreischer did this last time he was in Madison, WI. This time the Buck and Badger contacted Comedy on State when they saw his name on the poster there and asked them if they would ask him to please bring the crowd over after the second show on Saturday night and that everything for himself would be comped, plus a kicker for his troubles. I have no idea how much they paid him. My guts are a mess with the mess we ate earlier — the Culver’s and McDonald’s and Burger King and Wendy’s and Taco Bell buffet. I drink my Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey and Diet Coke. A young woman comes up to me and she says that her name is Elizabeth Brandy Alexander and looks at me as if I am supposed to have some sort of aha moment, but I don’t, and instead just say “cool.” She says she liked my set and I say I’ve been working on it for a while and she asks me how long I’ve known Bert Kreischer and if we tour together often. I could lie to Elizabeth Brandy Alexander, but I don’t. I tell her Bert Kreischer found me in Cleveland, and that this is the second time he’s taken me out on tour with him, but that when he plays the bigger theaters, he has other comics who he prefers more. She smiles but her eyes’ shine diminishes. I am not who she thought I was. Or I am, but not in the way that she thought I was. It’s disappointing. I understand.
There are no IV services in Madison, WI for Bert Kreischer to call. We have no hydrating, vitamin-infused IVs, so we suffer through the morning. Bert Kreischer got up early and looks as if he’d already gone for a run. He says that he needs a shower, which he would’ve taken in the Marriott Hotel’s pool if it wasn’t closed until noon. I sit on the edge of his bed, unsure if I am supposed to go back to my room and pack my things and be ready to jet as soon as he is done, or if he will want to relax and go to the bar downstairs and have an eye-opener Tito’s Bloody Mary and some Jimmy Deans Sausage and Toast with Smucker’s Jelly. I sit on the edge of Bert Kreischer’s bed and I think about going back to Cleveland. This is the last stop on the tour. The shower is running and the door to Bert Kreischer’s Marriott Hotel room’s bathroom is open and steam is billowing out and the humidity in the room is rising and my stomach is a mess. I have to shit. I think about lifting my nuts and wiping from the front, back-to-front, and how that even works. I know too much, now.
I sit alone in the MSN airport and Bert Kreischer is in an Avis rental car and heading to Milwaukee, WI where he will meet Mark Normand and play The Riverside Theater. I am drinking a Tito’s and Soda with a lime twist because I am my own person. They call boarding to Cleveland and I don’t get up because there are other flights to other places, places that have IV drip service with vitamin infusions to get you going in the AM, places that have contract riders, places that have DMT microdosing, places that have mushroom coffee, places that have perpetual adolescence, places that have more, always, more and more and more.
Scott Mitchel May is a writer living in Wisconsin with his wife and son. He tweets @smitchelmay.
image: Kelsey Zimmerman is a writer and artist from Michigan currently living in Iowa. Her work is published or forthcoming in Nurture: A Literary Journal, Ghost City Review, Unlost Journal, and The Indianapolis Review.