On the Charlie Sheen roast last night, comedienne Amy Schumer picked on Jackass star Steve-O, saying "when Ryan Dunn died Steve-O probably was thinking it could've been him, with the rest of the world wondering why it wasn't." Steve-O, judging by his perplexed expression, wasn't too happy. Which either shows that he doesn't have a sense of humour to go with his 'I'm mad me' persona or was simply hurt. Whichever, we're pretty sure that Ryan Dunn himself would've pissed himself, as this obituary and top five pranks article that was written at the time of his death proves...
When you see a grown man, stripped to his grubby underpants, sporting a snorkel, flippers and rubber ring, repeatedly hurling himself into a sewage tank overflowing with fizzing shit, it's a sight you never forget. Ever.
That was my introduction to Ryan Dunn. A frowzy slacker, chancing his arm as daredevil on a strangely captivating new MTV show by the name of Jackass; wiping faeces from his face, delivering a deadpan one-liner the likes of which would become his trademark: “My skin is silky smooth, feel it.”
Yesterday afternoon, my Twitter feed broke the news that he had been killed in a car crash. I was genuinely shocked and saddened.
Dunn and his Jackass cohorts, Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, Bam Margera et al, first came to my attention while I was still at school. A rumpled gaggle of skateboarders, amateur stuntmen and professional idiots that enraptured me. Fearless, shameless and blithe 21st century clowns; ready to hurl themselves through hedges in shopping trolleys, take shots with taser guns or get knocked out by professional boxers for our entertainment – throwing sick, piss, shit and seamen into the equation wherever possible.
While most of my mates touted Messrs Knoxville, O or Man as the greatest Jackass, it was Dunn that caught my eye. The afore mentioned and pithily entitled Poo Dive was, and still is, properly shocking and hilarious television.
I'm not saying that swamping himself in shit and stuffing cars up his arse made him a genius, but...
“I was that far away from being chopped to smithereens in poop,” shrugged Dunn, learning that the huge rototills beneath the deluge of dump could have killed him had he dived any deeper. “I was gonna become a poop smoothie,” he concluded.
It was those indolent aphorisms that made him the star of the show for me. He was the one with the knowing look on his face that suggested he knew how preposterous the whole thing was, and he loved it; impishly staring through the camera, guffawing ostensible encouragement at stunts he knew would fail.
Jackass, with Dunn as its impassive anchor, has gone from strength to strength, spawning three television series and three feature films. He would go on to insert a toy car into his anus for a doctor to discover during an X-ray, sit in front of a jet engine and be catapulted skywards through a volley of paint gun fire.
It's easy to sneer at Ryan Dunn and his career as a Jackass, but I defy anyone to watch any of his work – a selection of which can be found below – and not be affected by it in some way. His humour speaks to us in the most primal way. We react before we have time to think whether it's uncouth, uncool or offensive.
It's said that a true genius changes the world around them, meaning their field of expertise is never the same again once they've gone. Now I'm not saying that swamping himself in shit and stuffing cars up his arse made him a genius, but...
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