Steve-O the stand-up: ‘People who have a stay-in-your-lane mentality, fuck you’

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Steve-O the stand-up: ‘People who have a stay-in-your-lane mentality, fuck you’

Words by Luke Carlino

"Hey everybody, I'm in the mood for a blowjob; does anybody want one?"

This was the first joke Steve-O ever told on stage around 17 years ago, which he remembers clearly despite being out of his mind-level wasted on drugs and alcohol.

Everyone’s favourite Jackass has come a long way from snorting wasabi or being slingshot into a full porta potty. Not only is he a New York Times best-selling author, but a stand-up comedian. He’s now bringing his Bucket List Tour back to Australia for an encore run after a hugely popular initial trek.

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The highly XXX-rated show features a range of stunts that were too hectic for MTV’s Jackass TV show or movies, mixed in with stand-up comedy, a craft Steve-O has been honing over the past few years.

“Way back in 2006, before the release of Jackass 2, I was out of my mind on drugs and alcohol, and a comedian I barely knew reached out and asked if I would go to a comedy club to do a stunt. I agreed to do it and gave it no thought, and as I walked into The Laugh Factory on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, I thought, there is no crazier stunt I could do than getting up on stage and trying stand-up.”

Steve-O’s blowjob joke went over well, and he stayed up on stage for about three minutes that night before getting off stage as quickly as he could. After that, however, a seed was planted, and a love for doing more stand-up comedy was born.

It would be roughly four years later that Steve-O would really get into stand-up comedy. Completely sober and ready to release Jackass 3, the idea that “Steve-O from Jackass is a stand-up comedian” was met with a lot of resistance. “Despite Jackass 3D being the number one movie in America, I could not fill a fucking comedy club. People were just not ready for Steve-O stand-up.”

In 2011, Steve-O came to Australia for the first time to do a stand-up comedy run, but it was unsuccessful. “I insisted on giving the touring company a refund because I don’t want people who get into business with me to lose money. I failed, and I was bummed. I tried again in Australia in 2014, and it was just me and a microphone and some low-level stunts and tricks, but that failed nearly as badly as in 2011.”

Despite all of this, Steve-O continued honing his act in comedy clubs across America, doing well enough to continue touring the country with a show that was “good enough to keep people coming back.”

“For all those people who have a stay-in-your-lane mentality, I would like to say fuck you. Performing stand-up comedy is a lonely experience if you’re not delivering quality entertainment. I consistently worked in comedy clubs for 11 straight years and put out two comedy specials.

“The first one was just me and a microphone, and it was not successful. While that hurt my feelings, I didn’t let it stop me.” When working on his second comedy special, Steve-O had somewhat of an epiphany, “these crazy stories that I am building this act out of all happened on camera, so what if I edit the footage into the stand-up to illustrate the stories I’m telling?”

This marriage of Steve-O’s two worlds would become his most successful comedy special and tour thus far. This, of course, makes sense, as the public knew him for being on camera doing crazy stuff, so the inclusion of the footage created a bridge into his new stand-up act. Steve-O knew that his latest tour would need to lean further into this, but there was one issue, “I was becoming depressed that all of my stand-up material had become an exercise of living in the past. It was all regaling old stories, recycling old shit, and making it into stand-up material.”

Steve-O decided he had two new goals; to make his stand-up current and to bring more video elements on tour with new stunts and footage. The problem, however, was that he felt like he had done everything. “I eventually realised that I had a bunch of ideas that were so shockingly outrageous that clearly they weren’t supposed to happen.”

Some of these ideas were born from ridiculous excuses Steve-O created to avoid activities he was scared of. “For 20 years, I had the idea for Sky-Jacking, but I originally came up with it because I have a visceral fear of rollercoasters, bungee jumping, and skydiving. So, a colourful way to avoid doing it was me saying the only way I’m going skydiving is butt-ass naked with a dude strapped to my back while jacking off and ejaculating while falling through the air.”

The Vasectomy Olympics was another such idea, “I never pictured myself doing a rigorous obstacle course immediately after getting a vasectomy or getting shot with a tranquilliser dart and running a foot race, but all of these ideas eventually became my bucket list.”

From here, The Bucket List Tour was born, and this is the moment Steve-O credits as the breakout of his stand-up comedy. Between 2014 and 2023, Steve-O built up a large social media following, started a very successful podcast, released a new Jackass movie and toured relentlessly. This “perfect storm,” as he calls it, led to his most successful Australian tour ever, with Melbourne being the biggest show of his career. Straight away, the promoters requested an encore run of dates which will take place over April and May.

“The promise of seeing completely forbidden shit that would never be allowed on Jackass because it’s totally fucking illegal and legitimately triple-X rated, well, now we’re talking. Now I’ve got a too-hot-for Jackass show, plus years of developing a craft, so the stuff in between the videos is well-written, thoughtful stand-up. This show is fucking badass.”

Catch Steve-O’s Bucket List Encore Tour at Frankston Arts Centre with two shows on the evening of May 2nd, along with a bunch of other tour dates around the country. Tickets here.