Over the years, “Jackass” and “Wildboyz” fans have witnessed Steve-O snorting wasabi, jumping great white sharks and getting doused by dog doo. But next week, local fans get to see him doing something that he initially found more daunting than all of the above: telling jokes in front of people.
TV's merriest prankster – born Stephen Glover – will headline Tacoma Comedy Club with five big sets, from Oct. 10 through 12. Recently, he gave Tacoma Weekly a ring to talk about his live show, the prank dream team he's assembling and – on a more serious note – his ongoing struggles with sobriety.
Here are highlights from that conversation.
Tacoma Weekly: The last time I saw you, it was one of the craziest crowds I've ever seen. A bunch of people were volunteering to get kicked in the (crotch), and I remember this woman with a giant mohawk who was way too enthusiastic about stapling your scrotum.
Steve-O: All right.
TW: What is your act like now?
Steve-O: I still do some physical stuff in the show; but, for the most part, it's a comedy show. I started doing standup over seven years ago now, and the last three years it's been a standup comedy tour. I'm having a blast with it.
TW: How did you transition into that?
Steve-O: In the summer of 2006, I was invited to a comedy club. … I agreed to go and, when I showed up, I just couldn't think of anything crazier than me trying standup. It was a terrifying proposition, and I decided to go for it with no material prepared. Then, from that first time, I wanted to pursue it. The way that it's all unfolded is pretty exciting.
TW: So is it more traditional jokes or crazy stories about things that have happened to you?
Steve-O: A lot of it is stories that are just loaded with jokes.
TW: But you still have some of the stunts, sounds like.
Steve-O: Yeah, I personally feel like I owe it to the crowd to do some physical stuff just to be faithful to my brand. And I love to teach everybody great tricks, like you'll learn how to get drunk for free. (It's) foolproof. My quick lesson on how to get drunk for free is worth the price of admission alone.
TW: I've gotta ask how things are going now versus five years ago?
Steve-O: Yeah, everything's pretty good, you know. It's been five and a half years. I can get through a day without doing things that are so humiliating and shameful they make me (trails off.)
I don't feel like I'm such a bad person, doing such terrible things that I don't deserve to live. That was kind of a dark thing going on back then. I can get through the day and look myself in the mirror and feel pretty good about the way I conduct my life.
It's interesting, too, because I've got this new YouTube channel that I've launched (http://www.youtube.com/steveo).
TW: I saw that, with the 50 Cent video.
Steve-O: Yeah, right, right. It's crazy, man. In three days, I've gone from zero subscribers to 292,000 subscribers. It's pretty cool.
TW: That's got to be pretty gratifying.
Steve-O: I've cleaned up my lifestyle a lot; but, a few days ago, I was wrestling a guy underneath a pile of police officers and feeling pretty good about it.
TW: Was it part of a bit?
Steve-O: The strategy, in corralling all this following on YouTube in such a short time, has been to collaborate with established YouTube personalities that have subscribers in the millions. So I've filmed some videos with those guys, and at the end of those clips they're directing the traffic to my page. If you plug into the YouTube search engine “Steve-O gets a beat down prank,” it's pretty incredible stuff.
TW: You've said in interviews you have “an unreasonable hunger for the attention of others.” But I've seen you on “Jackass” and “Wilboyz” bail on stunts and get ticked off. What are the limits for Steve-O?
Steve-O: I don't know. (Long pause.) I like to draw the line at paralysis and death.
TW: That seems pretty reasonable.
Steve-O: If you look at that 50 Cent luggage video (the rapper pushes Steve-O down the stairs on a luggage cart), that obviously predated said line. (He cracks up.)
I don't know. I guess I don't really think in terms of limits as much as I think in terms of goals. My goal is to make people laugh and to get as many people paying attention as possible.
TW: At the same time, you've spoken about learning to differentiate between the character Steve-O and the real Steve-O. How do you find the balance?
Steve-O: Yeah, I've been striving five years now to find some separation between my personal life and my career as this Steve-O character. I would say that's been probably more of a struggle than anything else. It's tough for me to find that separation, but I'm making some progress with it.
TW: How supportive have the other “Jackass,” “Wilboyz” guys been?
Steve-O: In their own self-interest they're very supportive. I guess a few weeks ago I was in a restaurant with Johnny Knoxville, and I ordered a virgin Bloody Mary. I said the same thing three different ways just to be really, really cautious. I said, “I want a virgin Bloody Mary, please - just the mix. No alcohol.” When I said that to the waitress Knoxville said, “Pleeeeeeeease, pleeeeease, no alcohol.” (Laughs) In his own self-interest, he'd like for me to do everything to maintain my sobriety because I'm just so intolerable to be around otherwise.
TW: What do you have coming up? Is there maybe another “Jackass” movie in the works?
Steve-O: We'll see what happens. There's the “Grandpa” movie, which is part scripted. Nobody's in that except for Knoxville, but he's only in it as an old man. So will there be more “Jackass” after that? I really don't know.
I'm having so much fun filming these YouTube videos, and I kind of think … what if I put together a dream team of some of the most prolific pranksters on YouTube and kind of make a crew out of it, and film a hidden camera/prank/variety show with those guys. I'm kind of in the midst of doing that, and there is some network interest.
Whether or not that show happens – and I think it's likely that it will – I don't really care one way or another. I'm filming what makes me happy, and I'm able to put it right out myself and get it to the fans with no regulation in the way. I can be as crazy as I want.
Listen to outtakes from our Steve-O interview – including clips of him explaining his passion for animals and eating vegan – at http://www.tacomaweekly.com.
8 p.m. Oct. 10, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Oct. 11 and 12
Tacoma Comedy Club, 933 Market St.
$15 to $20
8 p.m. shows open to 18 and up, 10:30 p.m. 21 and up