Bert Kreischer became known partly for starring in TV shows that challenged him to complete arduous or insanely risky stunts. Equal only to Lena Dunham in his (overweight) body positivity, when performing standup comedy, he prefers to be shirtless on stage, and in other settings is often pants-less as well. Holding unconventional notions about fitness he will, for instance, drink a bottle of wine while running on a treadmill.
Kreischer’s longtime friend is the equally hefty comedian Tom Segura. Both produce their own podcasts and often appear as guests on other people’s downloadable talk shows. Somewhere in all the banter, what started as a throwaway joke became A Thing, as the friends strove to outdo each other in mutual fat-shaming.
Spurred on by discussion of the mock feud on Joe Rogan’s podcast, which has millions of listeners, the good-natured rivalry has grown. The in-group prank has even prompted other aspiring comedians and podcasters to hold mock debates over which of the two is fatter.
The contest pervades their social media exchanges, and fans eagerly join in, using graphics editing programs to create “memes” that impose Kreischer’s or Segura’s head onto enormous bodies, or extending the joke in other ways. Kreischer’s web store sells a shirt that says “Fat Shaming is Real,” with a picture of a merman. (No doubt this is an inside joke best appreciated by hardcore fans.)
Segura’s merch page sells both #tomisfat and #bertisfat shirts. Identically priced, they are available in sizes up to XXXXL (yes, those are 4 Xs).
Kreisher took it to the next level by writing and recording a folk song, “The Ballad of Big Tommy Buns,” in which he generously advises listeners to support one side or the other by going to Segura’s site to purchase a t-shirt. A line from the song goes:
This is fat-shaming,
It’s supposed to hurt.
Buy the one that says “hashtag Tom Is Fat”
Let’s drag his name through the dirt.
In another verse, Kreischer invites fans to remix the sound track, which someone obligingly did. Another fan posted on YouTube the original version of the song, with the addition of helpful visuals.
The balladeer sings of Segura that “he never met a pizza he couldn’t outrun” and croons, “If you ask him which food he dislikes, the answer is ‘none.'” He states that Segura attended a “spin” class under the mistaken impression that cotton candy was made there, and accuses his friend of spreading out Skittles on the bed and giving them all individual pet names.
Both comedians appeared on a podcast episode hosted by AJ Hawk (visitors should be warned of the explicit language). Predictably shirtless for the video conference call, Kreischer admits that the actions his lyrics attribute to Segura, like dipping pizza in ranch dressing, are actually his own deplorable habits. They talk about how the strange controversy has changed their lives and their public deportment. Both are fascinated by the reactions of their fans, and what is revealed about society in general.
Before moving on to alcohol and other subjects, they engage in some serious discussion of the political correctness of fat-shaming, from the professional comedians’ perspective. Although they consider each other fair game, they agree that it would be uncool to call out a fellow comic who is truly morbidly obese.
Although it may not change history, the humorous debate has certainly impacted pop culture and stimulated a fair amount of thoughtful and conscientious discussion.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “The Ballad of Big Tommy Buns,” YouTube.com, 07/22/16
Source: “Bert Kreischer and Tom Segura: Who is Fatter,” YouTube.com, 08/07/16
Image (composite): The Hawk Cast, Kumail Nanjiani on Twitter, Bert Kreischer on Twitter