Steve-O Talks Jackass, Stand-up Comedy, Ryan Dunn, Johnny Knoxville, and Being Sober
Jackass superstar Steve-O has both seen it all and done it all: He's had his privates bitten by a poisonous snake, taken a ride in a catapulted outhouse, and even set himself ablaze. And all in the name of entertainment.
So does that mean the 36-year-old daredevil's three-night gig at Stand Up Live starting this Thursday will consist of nothing but similar shenanigans? Yes and no, he admits.
While Steve-O might pull off a stunt or two by the end of the evening, his stand-up sets will mostly consist of "a bunch of stories about raunchy shit and adventures I had when I was getting wasted."
It's almost a form of therapy for the now-sober stuntman, who's been clean for three years and is turning the appearances he's making on his "Entirely Too Much Information Tour" into hilarious confessionals about all his misadventures.
Jackalope Ranch recently spoke with Steve-O about the tour, as well as how he's dealing with the death of Jackass castmate Ryan Dunn, and other topics.
What's you're stand-up comedy like? Is it stunts mixed with comedy?
I wouldn't say it's a lot stunts, but, yeah, I always feel like I was letting people down if I didn't do some outrageous shit at the end of my show. I do stand up comedy and then I do some stunts and tricks at the end.
Why did you decide to get into stand-up comedy?
I got into it kinda randomly five years ago. Somebody invited me to get on stage at a comedy club in Los Angeles, and it occurred to me right away I couldn't do anything crazier than to try standup. I sat around thinking about things I could do to get laughs. [When] I got on stage, I told everybody I was in the mood for a blow job and asked if anyone wanted one. People laughed at that and I just said some ridiculous shit and I got some legitimate laughs and right away.
So you found a new career?
I was pretty much hooked on the idea. I thought, "Wow, like imagine being able to entertain people without having to hurt myself." That's like such a bitching idea. So I stuck with it and ultimately about a year ago I started getting offers to be a headliner. At that point I thought, "Man, I don't know how I'm going to let anybody sell tickets to a Steve-O show if I'm going to stand there and talk the whole time." So I started doing some stunts, but have been working really hard so I'm making it more about comedy than stunts. But at the same time, I don't know how to entirely give up the crazy shit.
What are some of the stunts you do at your gigs?
I don't think it makes sense to tell everybody what to expect, but I will say that I teach everybody how to get drunk for free in bars. That's a really awesome part of the show.
What sort of jokes are you cracking?
There's a lot of filthy stories about the most outrageous stuff that's happened with groupies over the years, so a lot of sex shit. It's all based on real experiences that I've had. I also go into a little bit about how ridiculous my drug problems were -- it would be the elephant in the room if I didn't address the lifestyle changes I've made -- and there's a lot about the ways that Jackass changed my life.
Is stand-up comedy harder than daredevil stunts?
I wouldn't say it's harder, if you look at my history before Jackass and before any of that stuff like I was a circus clown. I graduated from Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in 1997. And I had a career as a circus clown. It was the last day that I performed in the circus, within half an hour of washing off my clown makeup I was puking up a goldfish. And it was the same circus that I was in that I got all the elephant poo from that I jumped in on Jackass. And literally as soon as Jackass came out on TV, just about right away, I started touring around with my "Don't try this at home" Tour, where I would do all the crazy stunts and drunken rambling on stage. This tour is similar to that, if you sort of subtract the drunken rambling and replace it with standup comedy you would pretty well have what I am up to today.
Suffice it to say, the stunts you'll do onstage are nowhere near as extreme as the stuff on Jackass, right?
It would be impossible for me to...I can't ram fishhooks through my face five times a week and then stay on tour doing that for an entire year. Within the constraints of...given the fact that the tour would have to repeat everything i don't think that anybody would have an expectation of seeing stuff that was damaging to my body. That's not to say that it's any less entertaining.
We hear that you set your head on fire?
Yeah, I've done that quite a bit. I don't expect to be setting myself on fire in Phoenix...I have a bag of tricks and I do different stuff at different shows.
Is it a relief to shift away from all the stunts you did on Jackass but still keep people's attention?
Yeah, there's definitely a transition going on. There really is and incredibly I've been on this comedy tour since last November so it's coming up on a full year of grueling, constant touring as a standup comedian and there's just now way that I would have lasted this long at it if my shit sucked. I think that's happening, like if I was out there doing standup and it was just plain bad people would be saying that on line and shit. But really I've just been super fortunate and I've genuinely put a lot of work into it.
What's the worst injury you've ever sustained?
In 1995 I was drunk, I threw myself off a second floor balcony. I landed on my face on the ground and I broke my cheek bone and I broke seven teeth and I had a concussion and 10 stitches in my chin and a broken wrist all in the one fall which was pretty gnarly.
You've mentioned in interviews that Jackass helped save your life. Explain.
Johnny Knoxville organized and staged the intervention that really got me sober so I guess that's what you're talking about. California has a law that is called 51-50. it says that if someone is being harmful to themselves or others you can lock them up in a psychiatric ward. Under that law [the Jackass crew] forced me into a psychiatric ward. That's pretty fucking hilarious if you think about it. You know you've got a serious problem when your interventionist is Johnny Knoxville.
Because he's gotten drunk a few times in his day.
Yeah. And just the idea that they did this whole thing, they came over to my place to pull this intervention. The Jackass crew came over to stop me from hurting myself, after they helped me hurt myself for ten years which is beyond ironic. It's crazy but yeah, it could be said that if they had not done that, you could say that that intervention saved my life. I think that that would be perfectly accurate.
How have you been dealing with the death of Ryan Dunn?
I don't know, how does anybody deal with a death? I feel like it's kind of hit me in waves. I don't even know that it's set in yet, really. It sucks Man, that's all I can say about that.
Do you feel that by being sober for three years now you may have avoided a similar fate?
I think that had I not gotten sober that I would have probably zero chance of being alive today. I think that at one point you either get better or you die. And I was at that point that I couldn't continue and that's why the guys stepped in. The guys recognized that it was no longer funny anymore, that I was at a point where I wasn't going to stay alive much longer. And I don't think that Ryan Dunnwas anywhere near that kind of a point. i think that what happened to him was genuinely tragic and unnecessary and I was in a totally different situation where when I died it was going to be an inevitability.
Steve-O is scheduled to perform from Thursday, August 25, to Saturday, August 27, at Stand Up Live, 50 West Jefferson Street. Performance times vary. Tickets are $20. Click here for more info.
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