The 20 Best ‘Jackass’ Stunts
We haven’t gotten a full Jackass production since 2010’s Jackass 3D, and it’s already been five years since the last Jackass spinoff; the semi-fictional, stunt-filled Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. What better way to end a drought than with a trip to an incredibly dangerous water park?
That’s the setting of the latest Jackass adjacent film, Action Point, starring King Jackass Johnny Knoxville as the owner of a theme park on the brink of closing. He tries to turn its fortunes around by transforming Action Point into a watery death trap, hoping more exciting (and slightly deadly) rides will bring in the crowds. Like Bad Grandpa, Action Point has a fictional narrative connecting Knoxville’s Jackass-style stunts, which means it’s the closest thing we’re going to get to real Jackass anytime soon.
If this hit of Jackass methodone isn’t enough to soothe your craving for the genuine item, perhaps this list will help. It contains the 20 greatest stunts in the history of the Jackass MTV series, along with the three movies. I did rank them, but I wouldn’t really worry too much about that. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy all the times these brave souls suffered for our amusement. And cross your fingers that someday they will do it again. (Oh and if you are worried about such things, be advised that there is some salty language in these clips. But don’t worry; I didn’t include any of the stunts where the Jackass guys get their junk stuck in things.)
20. Duck Hunting
Call Jackass “dumb humor” if you like. But show me another television or film series outside of Bill Nye the Science Guy with so many practical applications of physics. For example, in “Duck Hunting” the viewer can observe Newtonian law in action: As bodies in motion remain motion, hurtling through the air over a swampy lake, until they are acted upon by the outside forces of gravity, paintballs, and the drag of wind resistance against a comical duck costume.
19. Super Mighty Glue
Although Jackass is nominally a comedy, it touches upon many different genres, including some of the most potent body horror that has appeared on the big screen this century. For example, witness the nightmares that ensue when the crew gets their hands on some extremely potent glue, and then use it to affix their bodies together and then pull them apart. You will never forget the sound it makes.
18. Beehive Limo
Few pop culture products better capture the paranoia of modern life than Jackass, where everyone is constantly on edge, in fear that the next prank will be on them. And they should be, as proven by “Beehive Limo” where several of the mates think they’re on their way to a photoshoot only to find themselves trapped inside a limo that is rapidly filling with bees. Then, when they try to escape, they have to run (and fall) through a minefield of marbles. I cannot think of a better metaphor for life in 2018 than that.
17. Bloody Carpet
Jackass was eventually a victim of its own success, as Knoxville and some members of the cast became so famous they couldn’t perform the kind of hidden camera pranks that had become one of the show’s most reliable bits. Before the show reached cultural ubiquity, it was able to create hilarious Petri dishes of human behavior, like this sketch where they tried to convince carpet cleaners to help them clean up the evidence of an extremely bloody murder.
Although the films often applied Rube Goldberg logic to the merriment/bodily abuse, I loved the way early Jackass could find extremely simple, extremely small ways to torture its heroes. There’s a hilarious bit where Johnny Knoxville field tests a jock strap with a tap from a suspended sledgehammer, and this one, where the boys play a game called “Nutball” and the object is to toss a rubber ball across the room and hit your opponent in the genitals. Even the lightest lobs cause excruciating pain. And they make me laugh every time.
I’m not going to try to intellectualize the sight of a man dressed like a mouse crawling through a field of mouse traps to try to get a piece of cheese. I’m just going to say it’s funny.
14. Bungee Boogie
Here’s another thing I like about Jackass. These guys have big ideas. Someone here thought “Man, slingshots are cool. We should make a human-sized one and slingshot ourselves into a kiddie pool using a variety of accessories like a surfboard or a skateboard or a wheelbarrow.” And then they did it. In the world of Jackass, dreams come true.
13. Chemical Spill
Another confrontational hidden camera gem that’s so ingeniously simple: A bunch of guys in hazmat suits accidentally drop a leaky container and bystanders freak out. This should probably be illegal? I’m not sure how different it is from screaming “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. Other than this is actually funny.
12. The High Five
Every office should have one of these giant hands (and also a Wee Man who can lure people in for a smack with his extremely welcoming vibe). Then they milk the stunt with the addition of a giant bag of flour that explodes on contact with its unlucky victims.
11. Golf Course Airhorn
A helpful tip: If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of a Jackass prank, do not sell it. Do not give away that you are furious. Otherwise, they will just keep messing with you. After one of these golfers throws his club at them for ruining his shot with an airhorn, they blow it again. And then when he tries to hit them with a golf ball, they blow the horn one more time, ruining that shot. Jerks.
10. The Big Red Rocket
Johnny Knoxville has come close to death many times on the set of Jackass, but this might be the closest: When attempting to launch himself into the atmosphere clinging to the back of a “big red rocket,” the whole contraption misfired, shooting shrapnel just past his torso. Naturally, he got back on the rocket and did it again, this time successfully. Jackass teaches us that persistence pays off.
9. The Hearse
More hidden camera magic: Johnny Knoxville plays a hapless hearse driver who keeps dumping his dead cargo into the street. The reaction shots are incredible; very few filmmakers of my lifetime are better at funny close-ups than Jackass’ Jeff Tremaine.
8. Fireworks Wake-Up
Bam Margera’s impossibly patient parental units were frequent Jackass guest stars, and their bemused reactions to their adult son’s endless misbehavior was so funny the Margera clan eventually got their own spinoff series, Viva La Bam (which actually lasted on MTV several seasons longer than Jackass did). Their finest hour came very late at night, when Bam woke his father up with a fireworks display in their house. Then when Bam’s poor dad climbs into his van to head to work the next morning, Bam had a ton of fireworks waiting in there too. As the father of two, I want to state for the record that if my daughters ever pull this crap on me I’m disowning them.
7. Poo Cocktail Supreme
Great artists adapt to their medium. In the case of Jackass 3D, the team found bold ways to play with dimensionality; like, for instance, by launching Steve-O in a very full Port A Potty on a pair of bungee cords. The YouTube clip version can’t do justice to the visceral sensations that this scene elicited in theaters. Nonetheless, whatever you do, do not watch this clip while eating your lunch.
6. Rent-a-Car Demolition Derby
I love the way this clip merges two different Jackass interests (extreme stunts, hidden camera pranks) into one massive gag. An ordinary comic talent would rent a car and then enter it in a demolition derby. A superior comic talent then attempts to return it with a straight face, while defiantly claiming he was drinking and driving. (Upon being informed he declined insurance when he filled out the rental agreement, Knoxville insists he was drunk when he signed it.)
5. Toro Totter
Another brilliant concept: A game of four-way teeter totter where the object is to stay out of the reach of a charging bull — where every time your totter partner jumps up he lowers you down into the bull’s crosshairs. Naturally, lunatic Knoxville is the last guy on the totter, and he refuses to leave even after the bull begins demolishing the device. Then he almost gets gored!
4. Riot Control Test
Watch Knoxville’s look to camera after the security guy says this bean bag they’re about to shoot him in the abdomen with is considered “less lethal” than a typical bullet.
3. Jet Engine
A great Jackass stunt builds like a beautiful short story. This one starts as a parody of the old Maxell commercial, with the late Ryan Dunn seated directly in the exhaust path of a fighter jet. Then it grows to include all kinds of inventive, engine-related shenanigans. They use the jet to launch footballs, obliterate produce, test a wing suit, and eradicate a waiter delivering drinks to a couple at a table. Dave England obliviously marching into the path of the exhaust in a tuxedo is my spirit animal.
2. Tidal Wave
Jackass belongs to a proud tradition of hazardous slapstick comedy that dates back to the days of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Both of those pioneers would surely have loved this stunt, which isn’t one of the series’ most glamorous or complex, but is perfect in its own way. Note how much of the joke depends on the camera placement, so that Knoxville seems to vanish into thin air after he’s hit by the enormous wall of water. The replay from a camera that gets swept away by the wall of water is lovely too.
1. The Burglars
The pinnacle of Jackass has very little to do with the intestinal fortitude or daredevil attitude of its stars and everything to do with their unwitting assistant and his accidentally flawless comic timing. Bam and Johnny play burglars who fall through a ceiling into an office, while hidden cameras record the drones reactions, one of whom bolts before they even crash to the floor. It’s so funny, they cut to a replay, and the replay is incredible too. Then they bring the poor guy who bolted back and they all have a good laugh about the silliness. Jackass: Bringing people together.
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