Bert Kreischer on The Machine, Mark Hamill, and Finding Himself
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Bert Kreischer on The Machine, Mark Hamill, and Finding Himself

Jan 28, 2024

Comedian and The Machine star Bert Kreischer talks about turning his iconic stand-up into an action-packed movie and working with Mark Hamill.

Bert Kreischer is a stand-up comedian who has done it all. He has been featured in multiple magazines, is the host of various television series and podcasts, and how is set to be the star of a feature film: The Machine. The Kreischer film is an action comedy that is based on his most famous routine from 2016, where he recounted his real-life college experience in Russia with some Russian gangsters. The movie features a plot where he and his father (played by Mark Hamill) are kidnapped by the mob who wants revenge on Kreischer for how he wronged them all those years ago.

In addition to Kreischer and Hamill, the cast includes Jimmy Tatro as a younger Kreischer, Jess Gabor as Bert's daughter Georgia Kreischer, and iconic actors like Stephanie Kurtzuba and Oleg Taktarov. The film is a fictionalized exaggeration of Kreischer's stand-up routine, but the film tackles some genuinely emotional moments, particularly in the dynamics between parents and children.

Kreischer stepped in front of the camera but also had a hand in the production as one of the film's producers. Kreischer sat down with MovieWeb to speak about the process of making The Machine, including how he brought much of his real life to the project.

The Machine is based on Kreischer's great stand-up routine. Many comedians have taken their stand-up and spun them off into narrative stories. Comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, and George Lopez all took their stand-up routines to generate television sitcoms. Kreischer's material, like the man himself, was larger than life and needed a big-screen cinematic treatment. Yet he was less controlling of his material as many other comedians would have been, and was happy to hand off the screenplay to writers Kevin Biegel and Scott Landes.

"It was refreshing. It's really fun to watch someone as talented as our writers do their work," said Kreischer. "The coolest thing, and the thing I took away the most from the movie, is letting people do their job and not trying to micromanage. As a stand-up, you micromanage everything. You're the writer, producer, actor, director, you do everything. I get my own beer from the fridge, like, I do everything. And so getting on that movie set and watching assassins kill it was awesome and inspiring."

Related: The Machine: Plot, Cast and Everything Else We Know

Just because The Machine is designed as a laugh-out-loud summer comedy, that does not mean the movie still is not filled with emotional moments. Kreischer has never played another character, he has always appeared as himself or a fictionalized version of himself. That means he brings a great deal of himself to the film. "I'll tell you what was crazy, is that accidentally, and probably for the best, a lot of the things that the character Bert is going through, which we wrote in the script, mirrored my real life," said Kreischer.

The movie ended up mirroring Kreischer's life in interestingly real ways, some that even took the actor off guard. "Insanely enough, my oldest daughter Georgia was going through stuff in her life, and I was not being the best parent," said Kreischer. He continued:

It's so funny, the scene that we have with Jess Gabor, who plays my daughter, where she starts crying, and I go, 'Don't do that!' I do that in real life. It was natural. I didn't know she was going to be crying, so when she turned around crying, it caught me off guard. And then I started crying. There's a big speech in the movie where I say, 'Sometimes I don't know who I am anymore.' That's just me being very real, so all this is mirroring my real life. At times, it was emotionally tasking. I was going, 'Am I in therapy right now?'

While Kreischer did not write the script, it was based on his stand-up routine, and he was the main star, so he did help shape the story in some key elements. "I was very involved in the rewriting. Two weeks out, we sat down with the script, and we were just nailing it down. There were times when I said, 'This scene could be harder. I want it to go harder.' Then there were a couple of motifs that me and the director, Peter [Atencio], sprinkled throughout, like the identity crisis I am consistently going through."

Kreischer is a stand-up who is known for being open with his audience, and much of his stage persona involves a certain level of exposure, as he is known to do stand-up with his shirt off. Yet the movie provided a new level of vulnerability for the comedian. He weaves his own personal struggles into the narrative and said, "I talked with Kevin Smith the other day, he went to rehab to deal with that identity crisis. It's a real f**king thing for a lot of us people who are out in the public. You kind of gray the line of — Who am I? Who am I on stage? And who am I off-stage? It's a real thing."

Related: Ultimate 2023 Summer Movie Guide

Kreischer was a child in the 1970s, so naturally, he was a Star Wars fan. Mark Hamill stars as Kreischer's father in the movie, so the comedian got the chance to work alongside one of his real-life childhood icons. "I was a huge Star Wars fan. I loved it, and Luke was my guy [...] He was awesome. Very generous, very fun," said Kreischer, who even had a fun Star Wars story from when he was a kid. "I remember my cousin Jenny told me that Darth Vader was his dad. I lost my mind. I was like, 'Don't you dare say that. That'll never be true."

Now Mark Hamill is Kreischer's dad, and audiences everywhere get to see it.

A Legendary Pictures, Uh Hundred Percent Productions, and Levity Productions film, Screen Gems is releasing The Machine in theaters on May 26th. You can find tickets to his current stand-up comedy tour, 2023 Tops Off World Tour, here.

Editor and writer for MovieWeb. Graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in Film and Media Production.Contact him at [email protected]