Ask A Comedian: Steve-O

Ian Chaddock

BY Ian Chaddock

5th Jan 2024 Humour

7 min read

Ask A Comedian: Steve-O
Best known for his crazy stunts in the TV and film phenomenon Jackass, Steve-O has recently unleashed the new multimedia stand-up special, Steve-O’s Bucket List is a twisted love story that makes people pass out. Ian Chaddock asks him about his funniest experiences and his evolution

What stand-up special or comedy film made you fall in love with comedy?

It would have had to have been Eddie Murphy, either Raw or Delirious—whichever one had “Now that’s a fire!”. But, at the time, I can't say that that made me want to do stand-up comedy. I honestly never wanted to do stand-up comedy until we had finished filming the second Jackass movie. And even then, it wasn't my idea, really.
I got invited to a comedy club to do a stunt. And when I got there, I decided that the craziest stunt I could do would be to try stand-up, because that was what I was most afraid of.

What do you remember about your first time doing stand-up?

In the moment, I thought, oh my god, if I tried that, that would be so scary. So, I just made myself do it. And I had a favourable experience because the crowd was legitimately excited to see me. They wanted to have a good time and they were rooting for me. I only had one joke ready to tell and it got a little laugh. And I basically ran off the stage.
But the potential there I felt right away. I thought, wow, this is something that I really want to do. That was 2006 but I wouldn't really commit myself to it until 2010.

It seems like people kind of fainting or throwing is part of the response you got at your Bucket List shows?

Steve-O during Bucket List
Throwing up was a rarity, but the passing out was unbelievably common. We absolutely averaged at least one person per show. And when I say that there were certainly some shows where nobody passed out. But for every show that nobody passed out, there was another show where multiple people passed out. We had more people pass out than we had shows.
We did shows in 262 cities over the course of that tour. All around the world. We had 42 cities in Australia alone. I think that’s earned me the distinction of the artist who has most extensively toured Australia.

The Bucket List special was filmed in London. Why did you pick London?

I was thrilled to do it in London because not only was I born in London, I really grew up there. I lived in London, England far longer than anywhere else growing up. I know that that seems counterintuitive, given my accent and my sensibilities. But while living in London, I attended the American School in London. The majority of my teachers and classmates at school, as well as all of my immediate family members, spoke with American accents in London.
But with that said, in America you really have to wait until your 16th birthday for life to begin in earnest, because you can't get anywhere without driving. However, for me, at the age of nine years old, I had all of the freedom that I would have at 16. One could argue it's a blessing and a curse that I had limited parental supervision, coupled with the freedom that I had. But man, I just remember my childhood and teenage years so fondly, just being like the American Werewolf in London.

Is there any kind of stunt from Bucket List that you're particularly proud of? Or that you feel like you really pushed it on?

Yeah, we call it the spinal tap. The one where I got the four-inch needle in my spine, and the anaesthesia drugs injected into my spinal cavity. As that stunt was wrapping up, I was laying on the ground, still paralysed. And I just began to sob. I was sobbing, and this doctor who was dressed up as a clown asked me what was going on, and through my tears, I said that the bar for my stunts is so high, and we raised it. Literally sobbing, crying tears of joy, for having pushed the boundaries, the impossible boundaries, to yet another level.
"I got anaesthesia drugs injected into my spinal cavity and I was crying because I'd pushed the boundaries to another level"
Then the sky jacking thing. I have made the argument that the sky jacking segment is the crown jewel of my entire career. I have devoted myself to this art of storytelling and joke telling. It was just a humongous set piece, it was the most challenging thing to put together. And it was one of the most challenging stunts to both document and to pull off—pun intended.

Following on from that, do you think this is the like most extreme love story of all time? And do you think that love saved you?

Steve-O and his partner Lux in the Bucket List special. Credit: Gav Thane
I like to throw out the suggestion that it is perhaps the current craziest love story ever. If you look at me on my very first stand-up comedy special, which was taped in 2015—the majority of it was dedicated to material about my sex addiction. It was comprised of just the most graphic, cringe-inducing sex stories, which kind of led into me acknowledging that I was a sex addict. But ultimately I saw that in order to be happy later in life I really felt strongly that I needed to learn how to be in a healthy, committed relationship.
And, you know, almost ten years ago, I put that out into the world, the intention. It was my mantra that I was doing the work to become the man that the love of my life deserved. Acknowledging that I had yet to meet the love of my life, and that pre-emptively I was trying to make myself worthy of that person. And then in my second comedy special, there really wasn't any sexual overtones there. My second special was all about my drug addiction and my criminal record.
"I set the goal to be in a healthy relationship in my first special, proposed on the second and told our story on the third "
But at the end of my second special, which was taped in 2018, I brought my then girlfriend on stage and got on my knee and proposed to her. You could argue it’s cringy in and of itself to pick that moment on stage taping a comedy special to propose, but I did it unapologetically. And I acknowledged that that was effectively the culmination of all of that work that I so graphically addressed in my first special.
With my chequered past and how important it was to me to really take sexual sobriety seriously and really put work into a relationship—and given that I set the intention in the first special, I proposed on the second special, and then on the third special, I really told the story of the relationship—man, that's, in my view, beautiful. And I really think it is. And what's even more beautiful is the growth from the first to the second to the third. And when I say growth, not just me performing stand-up comedy, but as a person I went from a full-scale scumbag to a guy who lives with integrity, does the right thing when nobody's watching and tells the truth.

And on that note, are you now sober and running an animal sanctuary?

With respect to chemicals—drugs and alcohol—I've been clean and sober for more than 15 years now, actually, like really creeping up on 16 years. So that's not particularly new. Running an animal sanctuary is a little bit of an overstatement. But with that said, we've, we've recently purchased the property where I'm at, and we inherited this cat right here. And we inherited a pig named Lulu. So there are farm animals and we brought two of our dogs with us too.  
The plan is to, over time gradually develop the property and take on more animals. To what scale and what the animal sanctuary looks like as an operation kind of remains to be seen. I don't know that we ever really want to publicise the location and invite a lot of traffic. But, but maybe, especially if that would bring in revenue, help facilitate it and make it self-sufficient.

If you in your 20s doing Jackass could look at your life now, would you be shocked? 

Steve-O during Bucket List
I would be shocked, I think anybody would. Jackass has genuinely endured. Our last movie came out just last year. But yeah, I would be flabbergasted, and I said that in my first special that if you told me years ago that I would end up moving to California and becoming a clean and sober, environmentally conscious, animal-loving vegan, I wouldn’t believe you.
I'm just really proud that you that I kind of live a double life in a sense, but really, the bottom line is that I've managed to evolve into a healthier, more spiritually-minded person but I’ve also retained all my craziness. To have that balance of being crazy Steve-O from Jackass, but never miss both meditations every single day. It’s the unlikely reality of my life.

What’s next for you?

I'm going to take a break. I'm going to spend about six months putting together my next show to go on my next tour. And I really, really cannot imagine that I will not have officially painted myself into a corner with the next one.
"I've got one more multimedia stunt extravaganza comedy tour left in me and I think it has the potential to be massive"
After that, I'm just going to do stand-up without the stunts or something. But I've got one more multimedia sort of stunt extravaganza comedy tour left in me. I think it has potential to be massive. We'll see how that goes. And then and then I'll retreat into obscurity on my ranch.

What do you have left on your bucket list?

Bucket List felt like a catchy title. It felt like an appropriate way to refer to a bunch of forbidden stunts that I had come up with ideas for over the years, but were never intended to really happen because they were so f***ed up. I could have probably more appropriately called the tour, The Bottom of the Barrel List.
Steve-O's new special Steve-O's Bucket List is available to stream now from steveo.com
Banner photo: Steve-O (Gav Thane)

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