Professional stuntman and poster boy for a reckless and cynical generation of teens worldwide, Steve-O has quite astonishingly spent over a decade in the public conscience. With his ever present, lurid grin plastered on our TV screens (and his own back…), the loveable clown has enjoyed a roller coaster career littered with unhinged stunts, run-ins with the law and three Hollywood box office smashes.
However since 2006, Steve-O has been dabbling in stand up with increasing regularity and this winter brings a tour to the country he called home for much of his youth. ‘I lived [in the UK] for the first six months of my life, then moved back when I was nine years old and stayed until I was eighteen, except for a year and a half in Canada when I was twelve. I just did some stand up shows in the UK this summer and they went great. I’m looking forward to coming back’, Steve-O explained before pondering, ‘UK crowds want me to be more naked. Perhaps I’ll be more naked for them…’
Fans of biting political satire might be advised to give ‘The Entirely Too Much Information Tour’ a swerve, as Steve-O explains what fans can expect from the shows, ‘It’s a generally filthy stand up comedy show that provides insight into my life and career as a jackass, with extra emphasis on wild sex stories about groupies. I always do some crazy tricks at the end of the show, too.’
When I pressed Steve on how his style has developed and whether it bears any particular influences he revealed Dane Cook was an early mentor before slightly sheepishly acknowledging, ‘I can’t say that I really emulate anyone though, all of my material comes from actual experiences that I had. It’s embarrassing to admit, but all my stuff is true.’
However regardless of your comic tastes, the show does promise to entertain, something that Steve-O has been doing professionally for 14 years since he dropped out of university and enrolled at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.
It was here that Steve-O started videoing the pranks and stunts that would eventually define his career in his only ever ‘real’ job. ‘It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true: the job I was able to keep the longest before Jackass was as a clown in the circus. I lasted almost six months!’
Coming from what was a hugely popular but resolutely low brow programme like Jackass, I pondered whether this had had any ramifications on Steve-O’s perception within the comedy community, ‘I get taken a lot more seriously coming from Jackass than I would if nobody had ever heard of me. While some people want me to fail, I’ve been surprised to find that most comics are very supportive. I attribute that to them realizing that I’m taking comedy seriously and working very hard at it.’
Despite the often lewd nature of much of his material, Steve-O, like many who have mined the personal for material, uses stand up to address some of his demons and admits it’s a cathartic experience. ‘I was so messed up on drugs, in hindsight, it’s hilarious’, before soberly adding, ‘I wouldn’t recommend stand up comedy as treatment for substance abuse issues, but I don’t mind talking about them onstage.’ Steve-O has been sober for three years following a wild and protracted affair with drink and drugs that left him feeling suicidal.
Before wrapping up and discussing Steve-O’s most recent moment of televised insanity – charging into Mike Tyson’s clenched fist – I asked what hurts more, breaking your nose on one of the most famous set of knuckles in the world or dying on stage. The response was definitive: ‘Oh God, when I first started doing stand up over five years ago, I had some shows go so badly they hurt way more than breaking my nose ever did.’
So there you have it – a crumb of comfort from one of the world’s most fearless men to every open spot who’s ever been crucified on stage. Steve-O feels your pain.