- [Woman] Yeah!
- [Steve-O] Yeah, dude!
Believe it or not, my clown career began
because my sister was taking a shit.
She was at work on the toilet reading a book of trivia
and she found a question,
"what is the only college that has no tuition?"
And the answer was Ringling Brothers
and Barnum and Bailey Clown College.
Now at the time, I lived with her.
- [Sister] Morning Steve!
- [Steve-O] I was 22 years old
and fiercely dedicated to becoming a stuntman.
I had invented and mastered
the standing fire-breathing back flip.
- [Men] Yeah!
- [Steve-O] I was doing hand stands on moving cars,
flips off apartment buildings.
I was going for it.
But none of that had gotten me anywhere.
I was unemployed.
I was a slob.
I was an alcoholic.
And so my sister thought this would be a great way
to get me the fuck out of her house.
That day I came home to a note on a table
and check out how much of a psycho I am.
This is the actual note.
"Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College.
"Tuition apparently is free if you can get in."
So my first thought was, "if I graduate from that,
"I'll be a trained circus professional
"and people will take me seriously as a stuntman."
So I called the number right away
and they sent me this audition schedule, which I still have.
And the night before this arrived,
I was puking all over my buddy's floor.
Alcohol poisoning to the max.
So I looked for Albuquerque, where we lived,
but that audition was for the class of 1998
which was over a year away and I felt like shit.
So I just threw this thing to the side
and then my sister got home and she saw it.
She says, "how are you going to be in Denver by Monday?
"They have an audition in Denver on Monday
"and you're gonna be there."
So I hitchhiked from Albuquerque to Denver.
Showed up at this audition and there were like 60 people
times that by 55 auditions that year
and only 33 ended up making it in.
It was statistically harder
to get into Clown College than Harvard.
Then after I applied,
I burned my face off for Big Brother magazine.
And I was still peeling my face off my pillow every morning
when I got the call that I was accepted
and they gave me a scholarship,
which meant they waved my materials fee
for making my cool custom made clown suit.
All I gotta do is heal up,
which I miraculously did in no time
and fuckin' off I went.
And it was an intense program.
We trained 14 hours every day.
In the gym at 8 AM, 1 hour for lunch
and other than that,
we trained all the way through until 10 PM.
And as soon as we got off at 10 PM,
I started fucking drinking.
Day number 2 at clown college, dude.
We've been partying every single night
and we are partying right now.
I'd get drunk and do like fired stunts.
Oh and in the first week of clown college,
I split my head open skateboarding drunk
and had to got to the hospital
to get my fucking head stapled together.
Which I refused to do until someone took a photo
with all this cool blood.
So I got the photo like, "Blah!"
And then agreed to go to the hospital.
When I got to the hospital, it was like one in the morning
and they said, "oh we're going to have to
"give you anesthesia."
And I said I don't have time for that.
There are some like important clown people
in the waiting room
and I can't have them waiting.
I just said just pump them in.
So they pumped five staples in my head
and they said, "absolutely do not try
"to get these out on your own."
And I didn't wanna go back to the hospital.
So when it was time to get the staples out,
I tried and we had a whole bunch of clowns
trying to pull them out and it just didn't work
until we figured out you cut them in half
and take out two pieces.
That oughta save someone a trip to the hospital.
And even though I was getting loaded every night,
I really was trying my ass off.
I was never one minute late
You know, I was dedicated.
But it was clear that I wasn't trying to be a funny clown.
I was doing everything I could to be rad.
When we put up shows every week,
I was doing skills and stunts
like the stacking chairs
and the skateboard on the Rolla Bolla.
I started clown college not really caring
about whether I was a clown or not
but by the time the eight weeks was over,
I had legitimately like fallen in love with the idea.
Like I cared about it.
And all 33 clowns graduated
but only 10 were gonna get contracts.
So after graduation, we went up to Washington DC
to perform with the cast of Sesame Street.
- [Man] Don't go away Big Bird, we'll see you again.
How about a great hand for our guy?
- And after that everybody went home
not knowing who got chosen for contracts.
When I got to Albuquerque, it turned out I was not chosen.
And my heart was broken.
$2,000 costume hanging in the closet
and nothing to wear it for.
As heart broken as I was, I took all of my pain
and just channeled it into doing crazier stunts than ever.
I put together a video of all my best stunts
and sent it to the clowns who did make it to the circus.
This part's really sad.
I was still living with my sister
and our mom got very sick.
So we both moved to Florida to take care of her
and shortly after I went back to Florida,
the circus came to town.
I decided, you know what?
I'm gonna dress up in my fucking costume
and I'm gonna go to the arena where the circus is
and I'm gonna film myself performing in the circus
even I'm not In the circus.
And I showed up and I walked down the arena stairs
on my hands and fuckin was trying to get on the floor
and perform and they fucking threw me out.
It was totally a low point.
The only thing I had going for me
was this night club gig
where I would dress up as a clown and get free drinks
doing fire breathing back flips in the club.
But then it turned out that some other clowns in the circus
had been like, "yo, fuck this!
"We're not getting paid shit."
And they drummed up a way better gig
on Royal Caribbean cruise lines
and they had seen the video that I sent in
and thought I might be good for that job.
So now I had this job, all expenses paid
permanent vacation with my own cabin.
It was fucking dope.
But I wasn't always a clown.
There were times when we would just become characters
and just run around the ship just entertaining people
as zany characters.
One of my characters was a security guard.
Basically getting paid to piss people off.
It was fucking rad and we would perform in the theater
to warm up the crowd for the big Broadway show
that they had in there.
And all my tricks came in handy on the ship.
I was walking down stairs on my hands,
doing back flips off another clown,
I had my chair stacking going, my bar tricks.
I got paid every two weeks in cash,
and so the first time I ever stapled myself
was stapling hundred dollar bills all over my body
that I earned on the cruise ship.
- Oh yeah!
- [Camera Man] Yeah, the thousand dollar man! (chuckling)
- It was a fucking cool job
but the other clowns that I worked with
on the cruise ships,
I didn't think that they were really rad.
I didn't think they were really funny.
I mean they were cool enough.
But when it came time to write stuff,
I wasn't into what they wanted to do
and they didn't like that.
And so they went to the cruise ship bosses and said,
"hey, if Steve-O comes back for another contract,
"we all quit."
It was a clown mutiny.
And that was why I called Jeff Tremaine.
And I said, "dude, I've been walking on stilts
"as a clown on cruise ships.
"The whole time terrified that I would fall over.
"And so that's what I want to do.
"And my plan is to light my whole stilt costume on fire
"while a skateboarder jumps over my head
"and then I'm gonna tip myself over and put me out."
Tremaine waited until I got there.
He said, "all right, now you're here.
"I'll tell you this isn't for a skateboard magazine.
"We're doing something for MTV called 'Jackass'."
And that was how I earned my spot.
But the show is not gonna just happen right away.
I had to go back to Florida where my sister said,
"if you think you're gonna be unemployed and broke
"and fucking live here eating all the food,
"then you're out of your mind."
She said, "and you get down to that flea market circus
"in Fort Lauderdale and get yourself a job as a clown."
Which I totally did.
They hired me right away.
And they let me do pretty much whatever I wanted.
I did this super involved skateboard act
that ended with a ho ho street plant, which I did one legged
and I will never stop being stoked
on how consistently I nailed that trick.
Of course I did my balancing act working up
to the big huge ladder.
One day while I was in the circus,
I called up Jeff Tremaine
and he said, "it's not a pilot anymore.
"We got Jackass picked up by MTV."
Knoxville, Tremaine the whole MTV crew shows up
and the circus owner's like,
"what are these assholes filming our elephants?"
He was all pissed.
I left to go film the first season and when I came back,
the circus fired me.
My sister ended up kicking me out.
I was unemployed, homeless, broke
and a star on the number one show on MTV.
People would ask me for a photo
and I would legitimately seek to sleep
on their fucking sofa.
And that's how it went down dude.
Again, like if you want to know all of these stories, man,
grab a copy of my book from my website.
Every single copy is autographed.
It's a New York Times best seller
and it's got like a fuckin' five star
average rating on Amazon.
So you know it's a fuckin' dope ass book.
Grab yourself a copy and smash that like button.
And all that shit, and thank you.
I appreciate you guys.