For a guy who lights his hair on fire, comedian Steve-O is pretty deep.
The “Jackass” star is turning his knack for performance art into a stand-up act, but he hasn’t quite left the stunts behind. When he performs at Manny’s March 30-31, he promised to do at least one stunt.
In a phone interview last week, Steve-O, whose full name is Stephen Gilchrist Glover, said his show is full of stories from his colorful life and “Jackass” material. During the interview, Steve-O was walking through the streets of Toronto, where he has lived off and on since he was young. At one point, a fan asked to take a picture with Steve-O, who quickly obliged.
Steve-O doesn’t seem to have a pompous bone in his body. It’s been a long, colorful journey for the 37-year-old stuntman and radio personality. It began with his desire to meet the guys in Motley Crue when he was 13. Steve-O called every hotel in Toronto where they were performing until he found the one where the band was checked in under their manager’s name. Steve-O ended up getting to hang out with Motley Crue backstage. He realized his nerve could get him places.
Steve-O started filming stunts after graduating from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Clown College in 1997. He didn’t get a job right away with the circus, so he performed at the flea market in Fort Lauderdale.
“Being a live performer has really been a constant thread throughout my career,” Steve-O said. “I started out performing in the street for money and for drinks. I went from being a street bum to a clown to a TV star.”
Steve-O eventually worked his way up to a clown position for Barnum & Bailey Circus. That’s when he realized he needed to become an advocate for animal rights. Last year, Steve-O received PETA’s Nanci Alexander award for being a voice against animal cruelty.
“The whole thing about elephants is the first phrase that comes to mind is breaking the spirit. It’s a sad thing. Now I’m a vegan. I don’t tell people not to eat meat. I like to tell people how I am benefiting from following a vegan diet, but I’m not going to tell people how to live.”
Steve-O had his nose broken when he ran into former heavy weight champion Mike Tyson’s fist and received other minor injuries from his stunts as a “Jackass” star. Yet he says he regrets nothing.
“I just regret that I didn’t do more in the ‘Jackass’ movies. There are no stunts that I regret. There are a lot of things in my life that I really regret. But I would not have changed the way I was living because the most regrettable behaviors brought about my sobriety.”
Steve-O said he chose to spend 21/2 years in a halfway house during his recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. He even filmed part of “Jackass 3-D” while there.
“I knew I needed to build a foundation. So I stayed in that protected environment until I had been sober for two years. I never wanted to go out to bars or nightclubs. But to go to a comedy club to watch a show, there is a real reason for that.”
Steve-O did his first stand-up show in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he decided to make it his career. The first mentor he reached out to was comedian Dane Cook.
“I was so nervous the first time. The second time, I told myself to calm down and don’t be so nervous. Dane said it’s great that you are more relaxed, but you have to be an animated version of yourself. You have to let it come out organically and don’t be so rigid. Just the fact that Dane Cook took time to acknowledge my career, I can’t believe how much wind that put in my sails.”