From Jackass to Comic: The Steve-O Evolution
Wildboy brings his act to Ramona
Steve-O has lived an interesting and often outrageous life that has taken him around the globe. Born in London, England in 1974, Steve-O lived in several different countries by the age of 12, and is fluent in three different languages. He finished high school abroad and studying for a year at the University of Miami; after, Steve-O enrolled in the Barnum and Bailey Clown College in an effort to become a professional stuntman. After graduation from Clown College, Steve-O began shooting his own homemade videos and started pitching them around Hollywood. One of Steve-O’s videos caught the attention MTV producer Jeff Tremaine, who was looking to create a stunt-based reality show alongside Johnny Knoxville. The result of their combined efforts was the MTV phenomena known as JACKASS, which MTV first aired in 2000. The series would spawn several successful films and help launched Steve-O’s career. Since then, Steve-O has appeared on numerous television shows and was featured on ABC’s hit show, Dancing With The Stars in 2009. In the past couple of years Steve-O has abandoned his reckless lifestyle and has been drug-free since March 2008. He recently published his first book, Professional Idiot: A Memoir, and has spent the past year touring stand-up comedy clubs around world.
SanDiego.com recently had a chance to speak with Steve-O from his home in Los Angeles, and discovered what led him to a career in stand-up and what is like for him to be on the dais during Charlie Sheen’s roast on Comedy Central.
How’s your nose doing since the Charlie Sheen roast?
Steve-O: I still have two black eyes and my nose, I think is straighter than it was when I got to the roast. Because I had broken my nose a year before that and not done anything about it. Bam Margera broke my nose on the set of Jackass 3D and I waited two months to go see a doctor about getting it fixed. The doctor told me I was too late, that it had healed the way it was and that if I wanted to fix it that he would have to re-break it and then reset it. So I showed up to the Charlie Sheen roast with a crooked nose, I mean it wasn’t that crazy, but Mike Tyson re-broke it for me and then some guy came out of the crowd and reset it. It was the craziest thing. This camera guy was filming blood pouring out of my nose and this guy says, ‘Steve-O! You need your nose set now!’ And he comes over and he tells me he’s been a judo instructor for 12 years and he’s set 20 plus noses. And he just put his thumbs on either side of my nose and just wrenched the thing back into the middle. I swear he did such a good job that it’s straighter now than it was before the roast.
Now that you’re sober, when you do stunts like throwing your face into Mike Tyson’s fist, is the pain much more clear now that you’re not sedated with drugs and alcohol?
Steve-O: In one sense its more difficult to do stuff like that, because obviously I’m more present, and I’m more cognoscente of potential consequences. On the other hand, it’s so important for me to prove that I still have that in me. I’d hate for the headline to read, ‘Wildboy ain’t so wild anymore.’
I kind of respect you going from doing outrageous and dangerous stunts to doing stand-up comedy, because you’ve been quoted as saying, doing stand-up comedy was the craziest thing you could do.
Steve-O: That was my first thought. When this guy invited me to a comedy club five years ago and asked me to do something crazy, and when I showed up I couldn’t think of anything crazier than trying stand-up.
Where was this at?
Steve-O: This was in L.A. at The Laugh Factory.
What do you remember about the first time you did stand-up?
Steve-O: I’m not sure, I think I got on stage and told everybody I was in the mood for a blowjob and asked if anybody wanted one. Which is kind of funny; it was just silly ridiculous shit and I got laughs and was pretty much hooked right away.
So how long have you been officially doing stand-up?
Steve-O: Well, I started five years ago, and I dabbled in it. I had a couple of times go really badly, because I just thought I would wing it. A couple of times I got up on stage thinking that I would wing it and just come up with material on the spot, and that went really badly. I was discouraged for awhile there. I never stopped doing it entirely, but I’ve been on tour for a whole year now and doing it all the time. It’s like anything, the more you do it the better you get.
Is your show a combination of jokes, stunts and audience interaction?
Steve-O: It’s jokes yeah, but it’s all built around stories of shit that really happened. I call it, “The Entirely Too Much Information Tour” because it’s really me shamelessly sharing every raunchy detail. I tell a story of a transvestite sucking my dick, which is completely true. I talk about toothless sluts pulling out their dentures and sucking my dick; that happened one time. A chick literally pulled out all of her upper teeth, they were dentures; she told me to get ready to have a great time and pulled out all of her upper teeth. I think what sets me apart from other stand-up comics is all the stories I tell are all true. I’ve really had a unique and unusual life and there’s really no shortage of crazy stories.
When you’re not on the road, do you go out to the clubs around L.A. to work on your material or do you save that for the road?
Steve-O: Oh yeah, that’s how it all started. I was all over town working on the Charlie Sheen Roast stuff. It’s crazy how much they edited out, I’ve got a whole bunch of Charlie Sheen jokes. They really cut out my funniest shit.
Did you have any writers helping you work on your roast material or was that all you?
Steve-O: I got a couple of jokes from people who hooked me up with stuff but mostly it was all mine, even though they chopped it up so much. My favorite thing that I wrote for the Charlie Sheen Roast, I said, ‘I’ve got to give it to you, you really are a warlock. You actually have magical powers. Look at all the things you’ve managed to make disappear: Your wife, your kids, your job, your teeth. The only thing you can’t make disappear are those barnacles on your dick. You’re like that great warlock Harry Potter, you not only went to Hogwarts; you have them.’ And they cut that out! I was pretty bummed. I liked it!