Circus clown. Stuntman. Drifter. Self-destructive daredevil. Drug addict. TV/video/movie star. Guy whose fame is partly based on once having stapled his scrotum to his inner thigh. Author. Professional idiot. Recovering substance abuser. Rapper. Reality-TV contestant and host. And, more recently, standup comic.
Steve-O, best known as part of the extreme-stunt Jackass ensemble, says it's easier to sum up his weird, wild, way-over-the-top career with a much simpler catch-all descriptive.
"I'm just an attention-whore, through and through," the 39-year-old performer says as he makes his way along the freeways of Los Angeles on his way to yet another showbiz meeting, just one day before his travels will carry him north to Winnipeg for a nearly sold-out eight-show stand at Rumor's Comedy Club.
And though it's difficult to encapsulate the many facets of the meandering life and celebrity of Steve-O, who was born Stephen Glover in 1974 in London, it's the recounting of tales from a truly bizarre career that makes up the bulk of the standup act that has occupied most of his time during the past three years.
"I first did standup about seven years ago, and I've been touring steadily for the last three years," Steve-O explains. "I mean, you put a microphone in my hand and that's pretty much as natural as it gets for me."
This is Steve-O's first visit to Rumor's, and may or may not be the first time his travels have brought him to Winnipeg.
"I can't really say with any certainty," he says, recalling some touring he did in Canada back when he was a heavy drinker and drug user. "I would almost be a bit surprised if I haven't been, but I'm just not sure. There were times I toured in Canada when I wasn't really sure where I was."
He does, however, claim some measure of local roots. Born to an American father and a Canadian mother, Steve-O spent various parts of his childhood overseas in England and on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.
"I'm actually part Canadian myself, due to the fact my mom was born in Canada," he offers. "My dad was born in America but grew up in Winnipeg; I was born in England, so I'm actually triple-national. But Winnipeg is kind of my dad's hometown. I just talked to him on the phone and he's super-excited that I'm going there."
In fact, it was nearly eight years ago when the Jackass franchise's breakout star visited a comedy club in L.A. and was dared by a friend to get up onstage and pull off one of his trademark outrageous stunts.
"At that moment, I just couldn't think of anything crazier than me actually trying standup," he recalls. "You could say that my first time doing it was, by definition, a stunt, but I had such a good experience with it that I decided that it was something I really wanted to pursue.
"I would say that the first time doing it, doing standup, was a terrifying ordeal, but I loved it."
Whatever his motivation, Steve-O's evolution as a standup seems to be progressing nicely, as evidenced by the fact seven of his eight shows at Rumor's are sold out (when this story went to press, a few tickets remained for Sunday's 9:45 p.m. performance).
He also appears for an interview at the Winnipeg Free Press News Caf© at noon today.
He says he hasn't had to deal with too many Jackass fans who turn up at his comedy shows and are disappointed when he doesn't engage in a series of self-injuring physical acts.
"You might imagine that might be the case more than it actually is," he says. "I think the reason it hasn't been a major issue for me is that majority of the venues I've gone to on this tour are actual comedy clubs. When people go to a comedy club, there's an expectation that they're going to see a comedy show, and for that reason, I haven't really had to deal with too many people who were expecting something different."
That said, however, audiences at Steve-O's comedy shows should come fully prepared for a show that is frank, forthright, filled with real-life stories of his wildest times and punctuated liberally with F-sharps and plenty of lesser expletives. Oh, and maybe a few Jackass-flavoured stunts and tricks.
"In general, I draw from my own experience," says Steve-O, who remains committed to a certain brand of craziness despite having been clean and sober for five-and-a-half years. "And let's face it -- I've had more experience than most. People who are familiar with my career know that I've got a lot to talk about. It goes without saying that I've had a rich and interesting life, and people seem interested in hearing about it.
"So I'm going to give them the truth -- a lot of blue material, a lot of outrageous sexual encounters with groupies and such, and a lot of stories that are absolutely true. I guess I'm sort of torn between being proud and ashamed of some of the stuff I've done, but it's what happened, and people don't appreciate being lied to. I, for one, am not interested in watching a comedian get up and spin a bunch of yarns that are bulls that never happened. I get up and tell the truth, and I think that makes the material a lot more interesting."
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