Interview: Steve-O’s race against time knows no ‘Bucket List’ finish line

Via Artist

Steve-O isn’t exactly sure how he’s made it this far, or how much time he’s got left in the extreme stunt game. But one thing he does know is that a reckoning will come someday, so he’s making every death-defying moment count until the universe says “stop”.

That’s the main theme for his latest show, aptly titled The Bucket List, which he brings to Massachusetts for a pair of gigs split between The Wilbur in Boston (December 11) and The Chevalier Theatre in Medford (December 12), but within the minutiae of the show lives many inspirations. Over the course of his 10-year career on a stand-up stage, the Jackass legend has tweaked hour after hour to bring together the best of both worlds and cultivate a multimedia experience that brings us even deeper into the x-rated, unfiltered and unadulterated mind of the modern Evil Knievel. Well, if in fact, Evil Knievel did a butt chug.

Vanyaland recently chatted with the maestro of mutilation ahead of his trek to the east coast, and came away with more than a few stories that’ll leave you cringing, but also feeling the untethered power of Steve-O on a completely different level.

C’mon dude. Check it out below.

Jason Greenough: Hey Steve! It’s great to connect again. You’ve got some fun stuff coming up in the next few months, with the Bucket List tour rolling on and the new Jackass movie early next year. How are you feeling with all of it going on?

Steve-O: I’m feeling great, man. Candidly, I thought that you were asking, like “how are you holding up? Your body must be falling apart,” and surprisingly, it’s not too bad. I’m actually feeling pretty pain-free. I’m in surprisingly good condition given all the damage. As far as everything else, the release date for the movie has been rescheduled so many times now, it’s almost comical. So at the moment, it’s coming out in February, and as such, the promotional machine has been back asleep. There hasn’t been a lot of stuff for me to do around the Jackass film, but I’ve been incredibly active in other areas, like the tour and the podcast, the digital content, the merchandising operation. It’s just been a ton of fun, man.

Yeah, man, you’ve been on it with the merch stuff. Last year, as a hobby during the pandemic, I started getting into different hot sauces, and Hot Sauce For Your Butthole was one of them, and might I say, it was outstanding.

Oh, that’s rad. Thank you. In one sense, there’s not too much marketing you can do for a hot sauce that has the word ‘butthole’ in it, but then again, on the other hand, that’s the gimmick, and that’s what it’s all about. So we’ve actually been really surprisingly successful with it. I’m extremely happy with how it’s done, and the name is fun so that gets people to try it, and then they actually think it’s really good. So, thank you for that.

My pleasure! Well, diving into why we’re here, you’re coming back to the Boston area with your Bucket List tour. You’ve got a sold-out show at The Wilbur on December 11, followed by a show at The Chevalier in Medford on the 12th. Bringing this tour back to the area, after it was rescheduled, how are you feeling about being able to come back to the area with this show?

Well, I gotta say that the Wilbur Theatre has a very, very special place in my heart, because they had me there, god, when it was still 2011 at the very beginning of this comedy career of mine, and not a lot of people were supportive back then. I’m clearly not saying that to try and sell tickets, because there are no tickets left for that show, as far as I know, but to come back there and to have it sold out for the first time since I started going there, it’s a humongous deal for me. I’m really excited about it. 

Now, with the Chevalier, I’ve never been there, but let’s do it, man. I’m super stoked.

What should fans expect with this show? Have you added anything since having to reschedule it? 

I totally have. I actually forgot all about the fact that it was rescheduled, and I absolutely have added to it.  This show has become considerably improved since the time it was initially booked. I’ve made it pretty clear what the show is about, but I’m just so excited about it, because back ten years ago, I was giving it hell and my mission was to establish myself as a stand-up comedian entirely separate from Jackass. It was going to be just me and a microphone, but over the course of the last decade, it started with me coming up with the idea to edit archival footage into my special in post-production to illustrate the stories i was telling in my stand-up., and that changed my whole approach to stand-up, and changed it into being all about multimedia.

With my last special [Gnarly] I edited footage in with the stand-up in post, and then I thought ‘alright, for the next tour, let me make the whole act out  of new ideas that I shoot exclusively for the tour, and then bring the footage on the road with me,’ so that’s where the idea for the Bucket List  tour came from. It’s mostly ideas I’ve had for a long time that were so ridiculous, but weren’t really supposed to happen. They were just outrageous things to say, like ‘I’m gonna go skydiving butt-ass naked with a dude strapped to my back, and I’m going to be furiously jacking off and then blow a load while I’m falling out of the plane.’ That was never supposed to happen, and neither was riding a bicycle while I had general anesthesia drugs administered through an IV. But it worked so well, because here I am at 47 years old, and there’s a real question about how much longer I can get away with it. Even if my body does hold up, then the question becomes ‘at which point does it become creepy  to watch an old guy doing this shit?’

Well, I guess the part of that is that people still want it from you, man.

Right, and I’m going for it. There’s no doubt about that, but in a sense, I am racing against the clock to get my last licks in. That’s why I think The Bucket List is an appropriate title for the show, and these stunts are just so high-level and that they weren’t even supposed to happen, it really represents a raising of the bar, which was already impossibly high. All of this stuff is stuff that I could never get insurance for or be allowed to film. Regardless of the budget for any Jackass movie, there’s no way that I could get anywhere near the shit that I did for this show. 

So, this is just me completely set free of any rules. I’m out here just being fuckin’ flagrantly illegal and triple x-rated, and god, it’s just such a joy to be able to do this. And honestly, it couldn’t be anything but a tour, because there’s no way I could clip the footage. I have to bring this footage in person and screen it at my live shows, and I’m having so much fun doing it.

From what I heard and seen of it, it looks like an absolute blast.

Dude, it’s so much fun. Thank god that I persevered with the stand-up for all that time, because I spent 11 years relentlessly touring comedy clubs, and I really grew in that space. So now I’m getting on stage, and it’s like I’ve become competent at performing stand-up comedy, and now I have the benefit of having the whole multimedia component. It’s like all of my worlds have converged into this one, explosive thing, and fuck, it’s going good.

Hell yeah, man. That’s great to hear. Now, I don’t mean this in a snarky or douchey way, but obviously people coming to see your shows know that it’s going to be off the rails because of what you’ve done in the past. But when you started adding this component into your stand-up, did you actively work to make sure the whole format of the show wasn’t derivative of Jackass?

There’s nothing douchey about that at all, man. It’s a perfectly valid question, and I would say that there’s really a cohesive theme to this show, and that is that the thing that happened at my last special taping was me proposing to my girl. I find a pretty strong way to share that information and the circumstances of how that happened. 

That’s the beginning of the Bucket List show, and the first real bit in the show is how I knew my girl was ‘the one.’ That represents the first item on my bucket list, and as this show plays out, the common thread that ties it all together is my relationship and the implications of doing these over-the-top, super dangerous and super x-rate things. It would be impossible for me to have done all of the things i did for this show, without it having implications on my relationship, and so really, overall, I say this in the show, that the whole thing isn’t just a multimedia journey through this absurd bucket list, but it’s also a very beautiful love story.

What was that experience like, in terms of straying away from your past work to venture that road? How did working in this theme shape your excitement toward this show?

I knew what the bits were going to be for the most part, even going into Gnarly, I knew what i was getting ready to do, and after taping htat special, I just went ahead and stopped touring for a solid eight months while i went about filming all of these different vignettes, and as I shot these bits, I routinely went to all the local comedy club in LA. The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, The Improv, and worked out each bit stand-up wise to get them ready separately, and then ultimately bring them all together in the full hour that I would bring on tour.

As each bit came together, the entire thematic structure of this show sort of presented itself to me.

So with all of that in mind, what would you say has been your favorite part of delivering this show?

I guess my favorite parts are always when I stumble on a way to improve it. You can’t help but get into a bit of a repetitive loop with it, and the whole pandemic shutdown was actually super helpful in breaking that loop by forcing me to get off the road and do some other stuff. Over the course of the pandemic, I filmed some new bits for The Bucket List, as well, so it’s become more action-packed now, and having taken that time away from touring, when I came back, it just naturally distilled.

Before my first show back on tour in August, I sat down and played back a recording of the show from before the shutdown, and I was expecting to refresh myself on the material, as I was genuinely nervous that i would forget some parts, and my experience in reviewing that recording was ‘why did I use so many words to make that joke?’ Having taken time away from all of it, I got fresh eyeballs on it, and I just really whittled it down. It really needed to be distilled, and since I resumed touring, I’ve got more content in the show, and I distilled it down to where it is now at the same running time with just a lot more jokes and a lot more clips. It’s a considerably better version than what I was doing before.

Is There anything I may have missed before I get to my last question here?

You know, I’m pretty comfortable twitch everything we’ve talked about, and i get the sense that you’re already pretty well aware of what it’s all about to begin with, so I don’t think i need to tell you that it’s going to be x-rated, and that you’re going to see a four-inch needle injected into my spine that will administer drugs into my spinal cavity and render me paralyzed while I’m sprinting. If you don’t know how a vasectomy works, you will see a vasectomy happen up close, and then you’ll see the vasectomy olympics, which is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. The spinal tap and the vasectomy olympics are both responsible for making full-grown men pass out cold.

At our stop in Chatanooga, we did two shows there, and we had three guys pass out cold. One from the vasectomy, the other from the spinal tap, and then a third during the late show. It’s way less than one percent, but there’s a certain type of guy that will faint when he sees certain shit, and we get a kick out of that.

It’s like, you don’t hope for it to happen, but if it does, then it just adds to the lore, right?

As far as it’s gone, there hasn’t been anything that has brought on a real medical crisis, but we draw attention to it before i come out on stage, because the danger of it is that sometimes, guys will feel it coming on and then they’ll go to the bathroom, and we’ve had guys faint in the bathroom and hit their head and stuff. So, we urge the crowd, if they’re prone to passing out, please stay in your seat because we don’t want anyone getting hurt.

Right on, Steve. Looking out for your fellow man. I like it.

For sure.

Down to my last question, above everything in play here, what are you looking forward to most about making your way back to the area?

I gotta say that Boston is just such a special place, and it’s held a special place in my heart since I was a kid, when I would travel to Massachusetts during the summer to attend Ted Williams Baseball Camp. I was this fanatical baseball player when I was a kid, and I would fly into Boston to go to this specialized baseball summer camp, and while we were there, my dad would take me to Fenway Park and he would time it for when the Red Sox were playing home games and he would arrange for me and him to be staying the same hotel as the visiting team. 

I would hang out in the lobby of that hotel, and collect autographs from the players as they passed through the lobby. That’s actually really important, because it was that understanding of how management put those teams into those hotels that I applied to figuring out how to track down Motley Crue when they came to town when I was living in Toronto.

Man, I love that story. It gets me fired up every time I hear it.

The way that I knew to call the hotels is strictly because every time I went to Boston, the whole point was to seek out autographs from major league players who were playing at Fenway that day.

STEVE-O: THE BUCKET LIST TOUR :: Saturday, December 11 at The Wilbur Theatre (sold out) and Sunday, December 12 at The Chevalier, 30 Forest St. in Medford :: 7 p.m. :: $30 to $67 :: Chevalier event page and ticket link