TSJ phoned up Steve-O — everyone’s alltime fave stuntman — the former star of Jackass and Wildboyz, to talk about his new TV show, Killer Karaoke, and pigeons, and electric shocks, and how he’s attempting to retire sticking stuff up his ass.
The Smoking Jacket: Hey Steve-O. What’s going on today?
Steve-O: I’m being pretty lazy today, I’m just chilling with my dogs.
TSJ: How many dogs do you have?
Steve-O: I have two dogs.
TSJ: Are they little dogs or big dogs?
Steve-O: They each weigh nineteen pounds.
TSJ: So they’re like nicely mid-sized dogs.
TSJ: Cool. Tell me about the new show you’ve got going on, Killer Karaoke.
Steve-O: It’s extra silly. It’s a competition show where people sing karaoke while horrible things happen to them.
TSJ: I saw this one clip of Killer Karaoke where a lady had to keep singing while her head was stuck in a cage full of pigeons.
Steve-O: It’s pretty hilarious. The clip that you saw is kind of mild compared to other stuff. The truth is that I would be very hard-pressed to do some of the things we make people do myself.
TSJ: And that’s saying a lot, coming from you.
Steve-O: I know! Yeah, and I guess that’s because of the fact that my fears are very irrational.
TSJ: So like you feel more scared of bugs and snakes than heights or snapping turtles?
Steve-O: Right. And I particularly don’t like electric shocks. And we went maybe a little bit overboard electrocuting people while they were singing.
TSJ: You electrocuted people while they were singing?!
TSJ: How did they keep singing?
Steve-O: The only rule of the show is that you have to keep singing no matter what. So while the performances were almost invariably disrupted, they were never ended as a result of whatever it was that was happening.
“We went maybe a little bit overboard electrocuting people while they were singing.”
TSJ: People are pretty persistent. Is there a ton of money at stake? What are these contestants going to win for getting birds clawing up their faces and electric shocks and all.
Steve-O: They win up to ten thousand dollars per episode. It seems like a toss-up, but in this day and age I really think that people will do just about anything to be on TV. Throw in that opportunity to win ten thousand dollars and they’re even more excited. It’s pretty wild.
TSJ: The lady I saw singing actually had pretty decent pipes. Are there auditions for this? Or do you just have to be game?
Steve-O: I mean I don’t know if anyone’s going to get any record deals off the show, but it sounds funnier if some people have some ability.
Steve-O doing comedy at London’s Indigo2 Club
TSJ: So they’ve got some chops. That’s cool. Tell me: How is it for you to progres from being the focus of a show like Jackass to becoming a kind of jackass enabler?
Steve-O: This whole show is such an opportunity for me because I’ve been doing a comedy tour for almost two years now. I actually started doing stand up comedy in 2006, and still, people don’t really know that I do comedy, so for this show to present me in a capacity of a comedian-host, is something I’m really, really grateful for. I don’t want have to break bones and shove things up my butt for the rest of my life.
TSJ: For sure. There must be a natural retirement period for that kind of thing.
Steve-O: I dunno, though. Like I say that, but at the same time–
TSJ: You just put something up your butt?
Steve-O: I don’t want anybody to think that I’ve gone soft. So I think where I’m at right now in my career I’m really excited about getting into more conventional, low-impact comedy, and still sort of sprinkling my antics throughout. And this show really gave me the opportunity to do just that. I mean I’m overseeing all this ridiculousness, and adding comedic commentary and sort of intermittently doing ridiculous things myself.
TSJ: What kinds of ridiculous things do you do?
Steve-O: It’s not a live show, so throughout the filming there’s a bit stop and go going on, and on the set, I entertain myself doing all kinds of stuff — skateboarding and juggling, whatever stuff I do to amuse myself, and generally whenever we get back to filming, I keep doing whatever I was doing to entertain myself, if that makes sense. When we come back from commercials, you’ll generally find me doing silly circus tricks. At the beginning of each show I start off the show with a bigger, more involved stunt or trick.
“I don’t want have to break bones and shove things up my butt for the rest of my life.”
TSJ: Is there a carny side to this, like an old-school vaudeville something going on with the show?
Steve-O: I think if there is a carny element to the show I would say that that is definitely me. And I mean that in the best way, I’m deeply flattered by that — I love my career began as a circus clown, and I love that all these tricks that I have up my sleeve I was able to sprinkle throughout the show. There are all these singing competitions out there, and this has a satirical vibe to it, we’re poking jabs at music competitions as we know them. And I think we’re doing it in an amusing and healthy way.
TSJ: Are the contestants are just as surprised by what’s in the box as the audience?
Steve-O: Absolutely, I guarantee it.
TSJ: Do you know what’s in the boxes?
Steve-O: Yeah, I do. In some cases, it’s pretty hard to keep it a secret what’s gonna happen. In other cases it’s really easy, but invariably, the people don’t understand how crazy it’s gonna get when the challenge they don’t ever understand the extent to what they’re in for.
TSJ: I don’t think I could stomach some of that stuff myself.
Steve-O: Like I said — more than you– I honestly don’t think you could get me to do a good number of the things we make those people do. I guess the good news is it’s a little easier for them because they don’t know what it is. They’re a lot of years of filming Wildboyz and Jackass where I insisted on not knowing what they had on the schedule for me. I would just sort of tell them, ”Hey I don’t want to know. Just wait until I get there and spring it on me.” And that would always make it worth it.
TSJ: It’s obviously comedic from forever, physical comedy, but I just always feel bad for people when they hurt themselves — I can’t even watch figure skating because the skaters always fall in the middle of their triple-lutz whatevers.
Steve-O: It’s all in good fun. And I honestly had a blast filming the show. And like I said, to be a comedian-host is something I’m so grateful for. It’s cool.
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