The Great Outdoors: How Bert Kreischer Went From Drive-Ins To His Own ‘Fully Loaded Comedy Festival Tour’

Burt Kreisher
TIGER KING: After a successful run of drive-in shows during the pandemic,
Bert Kreischer this week returned to the great outdoors with comedians, friends and his paunch for the Fully Loaded Comedy Festival. (Photo: Todd Rosenberg/Levity Live)

As we thankfully emerge from the global pandemic, continuing to lean into once productive pivots – say for example, watching back-to-back livestream concerts, spending hours on the Clubhouse app and/or Zooming from your kitchen table in your boxers – may not be optimal for you or your business; but, for some, new proofs of concepts emerged in these atypical market conditions shining a bright light on new business opportunities.

“When we did Hot Summer Nights and did 60 sell-out shows in the first year of COVID, (Bert Kreischer) was like, ‘These are really my people and I really enjoy this. I like this whole tailgating aspect and I like this food and the pre-gaming and all of that. I don’t see comics who own that space, and that’s personally what I really enjoy doing, and I think that’s what my fans enjoy doing,’” recalls Levity Live’s Judi Marmel, Kreischer’s manager who recognized the opportunity her client’s drive-in success presented.

Starting in June 2020, Kreisher’s “Hot Summer Night Drive-In Tour” quickly brought in six figure hauls. According to Pollstar Boxoffice Reports, this included a $146K gross for two shows at Indianapolis’ Tibbs Drive-In on June 26, 2020; $158K and nearly $175K for two shows at the Yarmouth Drive in on Cape Cod and two more outside Citizen’s Bank Park, respectively, in August that same year.

“The big thing that we learned through COVID with Bert was that he really preferred performing outdoors to indoors, which is not something we’ve ever heard a comic say,” Marmel continues.  “We’ve always heard comics talk about actually the opposite about how much they hate outdoor gigs.”

Embracing that lack of hate, last year Marmel, with the help of UTA Agent Nick Nuciforo, put Kreischer in the glorious Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado outside Denver, which cleared just over $500k.  “He walked into Red Rocks and sold it clean at 10,000 seats, which was a huge jump overnight,” the manager continues. “We activated a lot of tailgating and everything else around that. And he just said, ‘This is the sweet spot for me. Yeah, I’m going to always play all different kinds of rooms, but I wat do something like this every year because this is what really brings me joy and this is what my fans lean into.’ So we ended up creating this Fully Loaded Comedy Festival with him.”

Bert Kreisher red Rocks
THE OUTDOORSMAN:Bert Kreischer performing at a sold-out Red Rocks on Sept. 8, 2021, which helped reaffirm the concept of performiung in outdoor venues. He will return to Red Rocks on Tuesday, Sept. 13th 2022 (Photo: Todd Rosenberg/Levity Live)

Promoted by Outback Presents, the comedy confab hits outdoor minor league ballparks, amphitheaters and racetracks (as well as two arenas) between June 16-26 with capacities between 6-10K. This includes Four Winds Field in South Bend, IN; Air Credit Union Ballpark in Dayton, Ohio; Frontier Field Rochester, N.Y.; Thunder Valley Amphitheatre in Bristol, Tenn.; Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Ga.; and Brandon Amphitheater in Brandon, Miss.

The loaded Fully Loaded line-up includes Dave Attell, Fortune Feimster, Nikki Glaser, Mark Normand, Big Jay Oakerson, Taylor Tomlinson, and Sal Vulcano appearing on select dates, with additional special guests to be added in.

“It’s really a collection,” Marmel says of the line-ups. “Nikki Glazer and Fortune Feimster and Taylor Tomlinson are people who can legitimately sell 1,500 to 3,000 tickets by themselves. It’s also Joey Diaz from the podcast world who is an old friend of his. There’s Shane Gillis, who is the next guy that’s going to break and is starting to really do business. There’s Mark Normand whose gone out with him a bunch and is on a new theater tour. He picked all of his favorite people who all can sell a 1,000 to 3,000 seats by themselves.”

As Marmel recounts her line-up, she points how robust the larger comedy market has become and the wide-range of comics who increasingly are able to sell-out large buildings with vastly different audience demos.

“Here’s what I love about this industry after doing it for 33 years,” she says. “There is no only one kind of comic. Because you could look at it Kevin Hart and Dave Chappelle and the tickets they sell tickets or I could show you Taylor Tomlinson who is selling 1,500 to 3,000 tickets and sold-out her first tour. She’s getting ready to go on her second tour and it’s almost all women under 30 years old. That is not your typical comedy audience. Then you look at these podcasters like Mark Normand and it’s not just the Netflix machine. It’s like everybody’s finding what they find funny and they’re going to go out and support it. And what Bert’s doing is, he’s cross pollinating all of that together. Bert’s a guy who’s figured out a way to do comedy that nobody else has, he’s curating a different kind of brand experience.”

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