If ever there was a TV series the Senate commerce committee might want to avoid, it’s Jackass. The half-hour show, debuting on MTV Oct. 1, is X-treme Tom Green meets America’s Funniest Home Videos, blended with a gigantic dollop of bad taste. Led by former Big Brother magazine reporter Johnny Knoxville, 29, the show features an ensemble of interchangeable guys blissfully performing abusive physical stunts and the occasional hidden-camera prank. Both crude and bizarrely entertaining, it’s sure to test your gag reflex (one segment, dubbed the ”poo cock-tail,” has Knoxville riding inside a full Porta Potti as it’s tipped upside down by a trash truck). At our own risk, we decided to get into Knoxville’s head with a few questions.
Let’s just get this out of the way first: Jackass seems like a rip-off of The Tom Green Show, no?
Well, our meanness is aimed at ourselves as opposed to the man in the street. Obviously it’s a way more physical show with people taking lots of hits … And we’re all kind of beholden to Candid Camera and David Letterman and Super Dave Osborne. They were doing it long before we were.
What’s the worst injury you’ve ever sustained on the job?
I got a sprained elbow riding a bull … And I just got out of an air cast a few weeks ago for a sprained ankle [I got trying] to jump the L.A. River on a pair of roller skates.
In one segment you test various personal-defense products — like pepper spray — on yourself. So tell the folks at home, what’s a tazer gun feel like?
First of all, it throws your equilibrium completely off. You just fall like a noodle. I guess it’s kind of like taking a bath with a toaster oven. It’s very painful.
What does your mom think of Jackass?
I haven’t shown her the pilot. She doesn’t like it when I hurt myself, though. She cries, actually.
Do you lose any sleep wondering if adolescent boys will hurt themselves trying to be Jackasses?
Yeah, we don’t want that on any level. We’re professionals. That’s why we’re not taking [home video] submissions for the TV show. We’ll take their ideas, but we don’t want anyone imitating what we do.
One last question: Did you get dropped on your head as a baby?
I think I was dropped and punted.