Way before Snooki and Jwoww were the faces of MTV, the popular cable network was known for employing a group of pranksters who loved to push the boundaries of what could air on basic cable television. Now, two of MTV’s “original pranksters” are sharing the same stage together, as Tom Green and Steve-O return to Las Vegas March 14-17 for their final set of performance dates at the Riviera.
Best known for their hit MTV shows “The Tom Green Show” and “Jackass,” both stars are currently on the road performing stand-up. For Green, it’s a return to his roots; for Steve-O, it’s a chance to do something without putting his body in harm’s way.
“We both started touring and doing stand-up again a few years ago,” Green told Examiner.com when asked how the two friends decided to do a Vegas show together. “I started doing stand-up like 25 years ago, then stopped to do my show and everything—I would jump up and do stuff occasionally, but I really wasn’t doing it regularly. Anyway, the last few years we’ve been touring, and I was over in Scotland doing shows at the Edinburgh Festival and Steve-O was there at the same time and I asked him to come jump up onstage with me. We just started tossing the idea around of doing a Vegas show together—’cause it’s nice to get off the road for a minute—and this turned out to be a fun thing.”
“Somebody once said something to me, I remember I was in Toronto and I was at this radio station,” Steve-O recalled, “and here’s this guy. I could tell he was an intelligent, articulate radio DJ—high IQ-type of guy—and he says to me, ‘You know, I’ve been thinking about it, getting ready for this interview, and with your past, you got to feel a little bit like Teen Wolf these days because with everything people have seen from you, they want to see the wolf. They want to see that wild and crazy guy. They don’t want to see the regular dude come out onstage and talk.’ And that hurt, man. That f$#kin’ hurt. I still have that wolf in me; there’s no f$#kin’ question whatsoever that I have that wolf in me, but I think that what makes me doing stand-up worthwhile is that I’ve had these wild experiences over the last 12, 13 years. I haven’t even begun to mine the material that exists in my experiences over the last 13 years as part of this cultural phenomenon, and I don’t even know that I have to continue to mine the past for it. But what makes me feel perfectly comfortable and at home in stand-up is just the richness of the f$#kin’ past and the experiences I have under my belt. Where Tom would say as you grow up you have more stuff that really means something to you—you have opinions—and stand-up is a way for Tom to voice this perspective he has of the world, in my case it’s more like an opportunity just to confess. I’m literally out there admitting s#@t that nobody in their right mind would ever admit. Like who’s going to go out onstage and say, ‘Yeah, I got my penis sucked by a transvestite?’ I’ll tell you who, f$#kin’ me! And in some way, I knew that that person had a f#@kin’ penis for a great deal of their f#@kin’ life, but to me that was rich. That was a stunt. I went for it and here I am to tell. That’s why I’m doing’ stand-up.”
“I remember when I started doing stand-up,” Steve-O continued, “and I was telling these outrageous stories—true stories, too, because I don’t feel like people appreciate being lied to, so I pretty much stick to the truth—I was working with this guy, Bryan Callen, and I came offstage and was like, ‘Dude, I don’t know if I want to tell this story about when I f@#kin’ kissed Chris Pontius’ dick with my lips anymore.’ Cause I did—at one point I kissed Party Boy’s penis, and I had this whole bit I would do during stand-up, and then I would tell the story of when I got my dick sucked by a transvestite. But I came off and was like, ‘Dude, I really feel like I’m losing the crowd.’ And he said, ‘Dude, f#@kin’ bite your tongue, man! That’s what people love about you, Steve-O: that you just put it all out there. You do that s#@t ’cause you don’t care. That’s what really makes you you.’ I second-guess myself in a lot of stories that I tell, but I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m out there and I’ve lived this f#@kin’ life and I’m out there spillin’ the beans. That’s what stand-up is to me, and it’s juicy s#@t—I’m not wasting anyone’s time with bulls#@t, I’m telling f$#king true stories! And I think people do want to hear about it.”
That they do. But stand-up is more than just an outlet for the “Jackass” star to talk about his wild and crazy past; it’s also afforded him the opportunity to share the same stage as one of his idols.
“Before ‘Jackass’ was even a project I was aware of, I was hovering over my VCR recording Tom’s show at my mom’s house in Florida,” Steve-O said. “And I say hovering over the VCR ’cause when the commercial breaks started, I would hit pause and then hover over it so when the show came back on I could hit record. So in real time I edited out the commercials, so I had essentially an entire ‘Tom Green’ season commercial-free. And I was sitting there watching his show and, to be honest, I was just seething with envy. I just sat there watching his show in genuine awe of how he could make funny and great entertaining footage out of virtually nothing. In my case, I had to really f#@king hurt myself. Something seriously had to be at stake for me to create great footage, and Tom could just make that s#@t out of nothing. And I guess in a lot of ways I’m grateful I had that really intense envy because I think it’s been a constructive envy. Over the course of the past 12 or 13 years, I think I’ve gradually—ever so gradually—kind of put together an ability to be more entertaining without having to hurt myself. I guess I owe that inspiration to Tom in particular.”
Yes, Green is responsible for some of television’s most hilarious moments, from the “Slut Mobile” (where Green painted an explicit lesbian love scene on his parents’ car, then drove it to the bus stop to pick up his dad for work when he refused to drive it himself) to the “Where’s My Dinner B%$ch?” statue. When asked what he was the most proud of, though, there wasn’t one specific sketch that stood out in Green’s mind.
“I really have a lot of favorite moments, we did so much weird stuff over the years,” Green said. “It was certainly an exciting thing that my friends and I pulled off, making this show and getting it picked up by MTV and being able to do all the cool things that have come with that, but I think probably the thing that I’m most excited about is just the fact that I’ve been able to keep doing what I love to do for going on 20 years now. That was always a concern I had as a kid, ‘Oh, what am I going to do when I grow up?’ and now here I am, 41 years old and I’m still doing what I love to do. So that’s the thing I’m probably most excited about. But I loved all the bits. So many moments from the show really stand out for me. It’s always been hard for me to pick out a favorite, though, because we’d go through different stages with the show where we’d try one thing for a couple years—one type of comedy or one type of prank or one type of skit—and we’d get bored of that and move on to something else. So the show always kept evolving, and I think that’s why I’m doing stand-up again, too, because it was something I had always wanted to do for a long time—to really focus on—and it was one of the last things that I really hadn’t pursued fully yet. And it’s been kind of nice to get up onstage in front of people who are fans of what we’ve done over the years. It’s a nice little celebration every night.”
Steve-O felt similarly when asked about his favorite “Jackass” memory.
“I remember not the work that led up to ‘Jackass’ becoming a TV show, but rather after the pilot first got ordered,” Steve-O said. “Once the pilot got ordered and we set out to shoot the first season, I filmed everything in five days and I only filmed on three of those five days. I remember after those five days, though, my car was broken down, I was limping around, I was bitten by a shark and didn’t even go to the hospital—they just wrapped my finger, no stitches, no nothing—I was so beaten up. And I remember, too, ’cause the rate of pay for that was we were paid by the bit that we shot, so if it was something that was genuinely life-threatening or like throwing your body in serious harm’s way, then we got $500 per bit. And if it was something that was more of a low-impact comedy bit, we got $200 per bit, which is funny because those bits are still playing constantly to this day, generating massive amounts of advertising dollars, and it was nothing. And I remember, too, the end of the final morning when everyone was leaving, like I said, I was bitten by a shark, I was beat up, I was mangled, I was f$#king hungover and I got no sleep, but it felt great—it felt f#@in’ great! I knew I had done a good job.”
“So I pulled out a piece of paper,” Steve-O continued, “and it wasn’t as much to figure out what was I owed, it was more of a question of I knew we had the cameras rolling pretty much nonstop for those whole five days and I wanted to write down a list to give to the producers to say, ‘Hey, this is what I reasonably expect to see on television. Make sure this doesn’t slip through the cracks.’ So I wrote down what all I filmed and the first thing I wrote down was the first thing I filmed, The Goldfish, where I swallowed a goldfish and puked it up into a fishbowl. And I remember I wrote down ‘The Goldfish’ and just like a menu, next to it I was going to write down the price that I expect to be paid. And now I could have had that goldfish go down the wrong way and just tear up my esophagus, I could have choked on it and died. A goldfish of that size, if I were to do it 100 times, who knows? It was definitely f#@kin’ risky to swallow that goldfish and puke it up, but I had too much pride to charge $500 for that bit. I wanted them to think of me as so intensely gnarly, just such a badass mother-f$#ker, and I wanted to feel that way about myself, too. So I wrote down ‘Goldfish,’ and I thought about it for a second, and I wrote down $200. Like it was a matter of pride insisting on only being paid $200 for what would be such a f%#king iconic and legendary bit. I mean, it’s douche-y for me to call it iconic and legendary, but it was a big f#@king deal!”
With everything Steve-O’s done and put himself through over the years, it’s not surprising that some “Jackass” memories have been nearly forgotten.
“I wasn’t even on the call sheet for that. I didn’t even know they were doing it,” Steve-O stated when asked about the infamous Paper Cuts bit from the first Jackass film. “I remember being in the hotel and being like, ‘I wonder where everyone’s at.’ I didn’t even know that they were shooting. I just banged on the door and walked in on them filming Paper Cuts and was like, ‘Alright, do it to my face or whatever.’ There’s something about that, too, that got edited out of that piece. They had an aquarium full of rubbing alcohol, so once they administered the paper cut, then you had to dunk your cut into an aquarium full of rubbing alcohol just to make it that much worse. So when they did it on my cheeks—I opened up my mouth and they paper cut the corners of my mouth—then I dunked my entire head into an aquarium full of pure rubbing alcohol. And to be honest, the f$@king paper cuts on the corners of my mouth were nothing compared to the hell of having your head completely submerged in rubbing alcohol. But the rubbing alcohol didn’t really read, so they edited that part out. I might have lost that memory entirely if you hadn’t brought it up just now.”
Given all the crazy things Steve-O’s done with his mouth—some televised and some not—it was only natural to ask what the craziest thing he’s ever eaten was.
“You know, if it was something really crazy I never really successfully ate it,” he stated. “I always seemed to throw up before swallowing anything in just about every instance of trying to eat something crazy. With me, what always made it so easy to vomit was a powerful imagination. Once I conjure up the idea that something’s gross, it sets me off automatically. I think the same thing that makes me puke easily is the same thing that makes me such a premature ejaculator—I have quite the powerful and overactive imagination. So if I get the idea that something’s gross, I’m already vomiting. If I get the idea something’s sexy, I’m already gluing my boxers to my thigh.”
While Steve-O may have not eaten as many crazy things as fans think he has, both he and Green did have some local restaurant recommendations to share with Examiner.com’s readers—places they’ve enjoyed since their Riviera engagement kicked off in January.
“Steve-O’s a vegan, so we went to a vegan place the other day that was pretty good,” Green said.
“Pura Vida,” Steve-O said.
“Yeah,” Green said. “One restaurant I like is actually right around the corner here—it’s an Italian restaurant, Piero’s. Sinatra used to go there and everybody; it’s nice. I had a good steak there.”
“I’m not staying in the Riviera anymore,” Steve-O stated. “I found a spot off the Strip ’cause I have two very complicated dogs who are so needy I have to walk them all the time, and when I walk through the casino I get stopped for photos every two feet and my dogs try to attack the people I’m trying to take photos with. I just can’t do it, so I’m over at a very mellow hotel, nowhere near the Strip. I love it. It’s my little hideout, and there’s a Raw vegan café close by that I enjoy. What I usually do, though, is I try to be pretty demanding about having at the very least a refrigerator in my hotel room so I can go to a supermarket and load it up with veggies and stuff. So there’s really nowhere where I can’t be a happy vegan as long as I’m a prima donna with a fridge. Most of the complaining that I’ve done on this tour though is, ‘this hotel is entirely too nice. I need a shittier hotel.’”
As the guys approach their final Riviera performance dates, it’s only natural to wonder if (and hope that) they’ll extend their stay.
“There are people talking about it, but nothing is solid yet,” Green stated. “I’m open to it, though; I’m having a great time.”
If not, Green will stay plenty busy with his latest endeavor.
“I just launched a new radio show on iTunes—a podcast, I guess you would call it,” Green said. “In one week it shot right up the charts into the top 20 podcasts for comedy in America, which is really exciting ’cause I was doing my Web show for a long time and it looks like the people who were following me on the Web have immediately come on and started supporting the podcast. Steve-O was the second guest on the show. He was on the show the first day—we taped two shows in one day—so he was basically one of the first guests on the show, and it’s been really going good. So that’s what I’ve been putting a lot of my focus into now, doing stand-up and doing the podcast sort of together.”
Green also admitted that he’s “talked to some people” about bringing “The Tom Green Show” back, although nothing has been finalized yet. When asked if he still keeps in touch with the old gang, Green replied that he still talks to Phil Giroux “all the time,” but that Phil and Glenn Humplik “are pretty much focused on their careers, which are not in show business. They never really had any intention in working in this business. They were always just buddies of mine who came down to the show the nights we were taping and just sat there and kind of laughed at the show I put together each week.”
As for Steve-O, when asked if there was any hope of another Jackass film following the tragic death of Ryan Dunn in 2011, Steve-O confirmed that “there’s a project that’s got Jackass in the title that will be a theatrical release,” but added that he’s not signed up to star in it at this time. For now, fans will just have to catch him and Green together in Las Vegas while they still can.
Tom Green and Steve-O perform inside the Riviera’s Starlite Theatre March 14-17 at 10:30 p.m.; doors open at 10 p.m. Tickets range from $39.99-$69.99, plus tax and fees. Guests must be 18 years of age or older to attend the show. For more information, visit ticketmaster.com.