As someone underwhelmed by the antics of Jackass, the cult American television show that was most recently resurrected for a 3D film, it was perhaps no surprise that the allure of the stand-up of one of its stars would die as quickly as the flames sometimes occasioned by one of his stunts; a short journey from Steve-O to "Oh, Steve...."
No doubt hoping that awed disbelief at his deeds – like riding a unicycle into a pond containing an alligator – would translate into a similar knee-jerk reaction to his words, the British-born comic managed to bamboozle his audience initially by a declaration of sobriety. "Make some noise if you are getting loaded," Steve-O shouts to whoops and cheers, the same reaction he receives when he then announces he has been clean for three years. Explaining the crucial intervention he received from the Jackass cast and crew, the comic continued: "The same people stepped in to stop me hurting myself that helped me hurt myself in the previous 10 years."
Unfortunately, not long after this neat gag, the genuine nature of the show's confessional theme ends and it begins a descent, bottoming out into lame or lurid tales of his sexual encounters or those of others.
"Mini Me has a sex tape!" Steve-O exclaims, referring to Verne Troyer's 2008 recording and illustrating his easy equation that fame leads to sex. His own alleged shortcomings in the bedroom – whatever their veracity – showed too much of the join between person and persona. It was as if he was trying too hard to show some vulnerability, something that appears to come more naturally to him while doing stunts where the line between hero and doofus, success and danger is so fine.
There's no denying, beneath the goofy persona and the hyena-like laughter fits, the heart that Steve-O brings to his performance. His emotional, nervous energy comes to a climax after a human fireball stunt, when he pays tribute to the late Jackass member Ryan Dunn who died in a car crash last month.
To truly have a proper run at stand-up Steve-O would need to ditch the "safety net" of his signature stunts and draw more deeply from a period that must have given him plenty of anecdotal material. With a new book to promote, perhaps both of these courses of action were deemed risky? Although it would be ironic if risk ever got in the way of Steve-O's career.