Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to pick up my phone and hear the voice of Steve-O on the other end. My inner teen-girl is screaming.
In case you didn’t know, Steve-O, a.k.a. Stephen Glover, is an infamous prankster and comedian. His nail-biting stunt work with Jackass has entertained, and slightly worried, audiences around the world. Sober since 2008, Steve-O has changed his lifestyle and expanded his career as a comedian and author. He has been doing stand-up comedy for four years now and will be performing at The Millroom in Asheville on Oct. 26.
CC: Hey Steve-O, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. We’re very excited to have you in Asheville. I read that you’re a vegan and Asheville has some really great vegan restaurants you have to check out if you have a moment.
SG: Oh yeah? That’s really cool. Actually, I’ve introduced white codfish into my diet. My motivation for making that move is me trying to cut out all of the soy and wheat I was ingesting, all the fake meat. Trying to be as healthy as I can be these days.
CC: Good deal. You’ve been making lots of changes in your life and career, from Jackass, Dancing with the Stars, and now stand-up. How do you overcome fear and stage-fright? Are those even obstacles for you?
SG: Okay, well let me add to that list a little bit, if we’re speaking about diversity. Because I’m a New York Times best selling author, which I’m a little bit beside myself about. Whatever, what am I doing? That sounds douchey. The obstacles for stand-up, initially yeah it was pretty terrifying. My first time I did stand-up I did as a stunt because I was so afraid of it. The more I performed and stuck with it, as will happen, I came up with a bunch of stuff that proved itself to work. Once you’ve got the material in your arsenal that you know is always going to hit the mark, then a sense of comfort comes with it. The fear of bombing hasn’t been a concern of mine for a long time. I’ve sort of found my voice. The only real problem I have is anxiety. I wonder, is the place gonna be packed? Because I’ll be mortified if it’s not packed. I just want to do really well.
CC: Is there anything that actually scares you to the bone?
SG: There’s a skit that I do pretty regularly in my show, it will come up in Asheville too, about people asking me if there’s anything that I will not do. And aside from the obvious shit I won’t do, like hold down any kind of real job, the example I like to share—which I think is hilarious—is when VH1 approached me to do one of their old dating shows, like Rock of Love or Flavor of Love, and my actual thinking was like…uhh, there’s no way I’m gonna let 30 chicks tell the entire world how fast I cum. You can’t give away a platform like that.
CC: Yeah, that’s probably not a great thing to have advertised on television. I was actually looking more for if the brave and bold Steve-O is afraid of the dark?
SG: Right. I’ll tell you that I cannot fucking stand roller coasters. To the point where when I go to a theme park with my sister, my 12-year-old niece and my 6-year-old nephew, I leave at the first opportunity and wait at the exit while my family goes on the roller coaster. People ask me a lot if there’s anything I won’t do so I tell them about the time it came about for me to be duct-taped to a mechanical bull. There was no way I was gonna do that. When I share that with people it’s so anticlimactic for them, but I feel that they don’t properly understand. At a certain point you need to fall off of that bull and if you are attached to it when that point comes you’re gonna wind up with a spinal cord injury and paralyzed. And that’s something I avoid. Granted, there have been a dozen things I could have been paralyzed from but whenever possible I try to weed out those likely occurrences.
CC: Well that’s good to know, because as a viewer we just see you doing crazy stuff. I’m glad you’re actually thinking about your actions.
SG: It’s more of a guarded secret than anything, but I think people are unaware that I really pick my battles more carefully than I ever let on. And I’ve been fortunate as a result, too. Unless you count fake teeth and tattoos there really isn’t an injury I haven’t been able to recover from. Except for Barrett’s Esophagus, it’s acid-reflux related and vomiting and the unhealthy lifestyle I lived for many years. I try not to vomit ever anymore.
CC: Speaking of vomit—and this doesn’t go for your stand-up but more for your stunts on Jackass—what do you say to those who are repulsed by your comedy?
SG: There are all kinds of opportunity for people to be repulsed in my stand-up, let’s not let my stand-up off the hook. You know, not everything is for everybody, that’s fine. I’m not offended by people who aren’t into Jackass.
CC: What about those who love it? Are you surprised by what you can get people to laugh at?
SG: I think there is something primal about it. It’s not particularly original. It does surprise me the way that it hasn’t changed as I get older. It’s remarkable to me how shockingly young this whole new generation of Jackass fans are. I wonder how they’re exposed to it anymore. It leads me to feel like Matthew McConaughey’s character from Dazed and Confused, “I get older and they just stay the same age,” that is what baffles me. But at the same time I’m very flattered and honored by it.
CC: What is that secret to making people laugh, how do you “be funny?”
SG: For me, self-deprecation is pretty crucial; I’m not really into trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. My best comedy comes from being vulnerable. And real experience. I think that truthfulness is what sets my comedy a part. Like the time I got my penis sucked by a transvestite, you better believe that happened. I don’t think a lot of comedians have gotten their penis sucked by a transvestite and if they did they’re certainly not going out on stage and telling that story. I’m rigorously honest in my stand up, candid to the point of real, utter shamelessness. You can count on it to be interesting, shameless, shocking and honest. That allows for me not to worry as much about emulating anybody else, or being overly concerned with whether or not I’m accepted by the stand-up comedy community. I’ve done a pretty good job of going about it in my own way and I’ve developed a real sense in my career about what is and what isn’t entertainment. That is really the driving force that has made me successful as a comedian.
CC: What makes you laugh?
SG: What makes me laugh is failure. When someone asks me what I find funny a mental image always comes to mind of a guy winning a bicycle race, a big important bike race with hundreds of bikers. This guy is so excited and he’s about to cross the finish line, so he throws his arms up in celebration but then wobbles over, wipes out, falls on his face and slides up an inch away from the finish line, and everybody blows past him. To me, that’s awesome. I love that.
CC: Besides interesting, shocking, shameless, and honest, is there anything else you want to tell me about what audiences should expect from your performance at The Millroom?
SG: Thank you, I really appreciate you asking that. I want people to know that before I walk off the stage I promise the crowd I won’t do anything or go anywhere until I take a picture with everybody in the audience who wants one. And I do that selfishly because I want to send everybody home with a photo to put on their social media to communicate with their friends that they had a good time, which is generally the case. It really helps me to establish myself in this arena.
Steve-O has certainly mastered the art of entertainment. This is only a preview to the hilarious and shocking stories he’ll have on Sunday, Oct. 26 at The Millroom. Doors open at 7 p.m., tickets $17.50 at the door, $15 in advance. Don’t miss it!