Bert Kreischer Has Competition in the Topless Comedy Department
Why does Bert Kreischer insist on doing stand-up topless? In his latest Netflix special, Razzle Dazzle, Kreischer teases us with a belly-covering dress shirt before ripping it open to start the show, rhinestone buttons soaring into the stratosphere. The reason why is simple, he told Vlad TV. “Fat guys take their shirts off all the time at home,” he says. “It’s a way to remind myself that I’m supposed to be having a good time.”
Now, a new comedy show is standing on Kreischer’s corner, removing not only shirts but pretty much everything else. The Naked Comedy Show is selling out all its dates in Brooklyn, according to The New York Times, delivering exactly what the title promises — stand-ups telling jokes entirely in the nude.
The show’s producer, comedian Billy Procida, stages the show in a space owned by sex-positive organization Hacienda, which explains why the first two rows in the audience are also clothing optional. He looks to book comics with a variety of body types, but the number one criterion is “Are you funny?” (The number two criterion is “Will you take off your clothes?” Unsurprisingly, a number of comics turn down Procida, and others who accept the challenge get cold, er, feet at the last minute.)
What’s in it for the comics, besides all the jokes about getting more exposure? For comics who value truth, honesty, and vulnerability, “this is the most vulnerable you can be,” comic Carolyn Bergier told the NY Times’ Jason Zinoman. “That’s what drew me in.”
Comic Nick Viagis was drawn to the intensity of naked stand-up. “I think it’s good to be humiliated as a comedian,” he says. “You need to put your ego aside.”
There’s something about performing naked that surprisingly puts an audience at ease, according to Bergier. “I feel like they’re disarmed if you’re naked,” she says. “Last night at Stand Up NY (a Manhattan comedy club), the audience felt tense, but there, everyone’s guard is down because we’re naked.”
Zinoman says the shows are surprisingly asexual, despite the inherently salacious offer of nudity. Any given stand-up set in a traditional New York comedy club would probably offer more in the way of pure lewd content. But if it’s eroticism you want, the Naked Comedy Show ain’t for you, says Procida: “Let me put it this way. If you’re in the audience and turned on by someone doing suicide jokes while naked, that’s your issue.”
Sure, Bert Kreischer gets it. A big guy working shirtless is great branding – most comedy fans recognize Kreischer thanks to his famous torso — but he’s not doing it to turn on the audience. And neither are the comics who are baring it all, a trick so bold and fearless that we dare the audacious Kreischer to try it. This one has Netflix Top Ten written all over it.