The Jackass boys have thrilled, grossed out, entertained, and split the sides of audiences since the aughts—a generation’s answer to the slapstick shenanigans of Buster Keaton. Now after a decade-plus hiatus, Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Dave England, Wee Man, Danger Ehren, and Preston Lacy are back with Jackass Forever.
To celebrate 20 years’ worth of dumbassery, GQ has assembled the 20 best (read: funniest) stunts, gags, and bits across the previous three installments of the Jackass film franchise. Looking at their collected output—as gross, messy, and painful as they are—makes you realize just how good these guys are at their specific line of work. If nothing else, you’ll probably watch these clips and laugh your ass off, and take a trip down memory lane of your lauded middle or high school years watching grown men risk bodily failure on live television. Oh, and most importantly, don’t do any of this at home.
20. Rocket Skates, Jackass: The Movie
Many of the best Jackass stunts begin with youthful curiosity, taking childhood dreams to their logical, dangerous conclusion. Such is the hook for “Rocket Skates,” which involves Knoxville attaching—and then lighting—a pair of bottle rockets onto roller skates. The first try works a little too well, with an initial burst so substantial, Knoxville instantly falls flat on his ass. Further attempts to refine the process conclude with (literally) explosive results; even as Knoxville manages to hold on, the final boom proves to be too much to handle. Perhaps technology will one day provide us with a real, safe pair of rocket boots but until then, this stunt proves that it’s maybe best to leave this idea to a daydream.
19. Tidal Wave, Jackass: The Movie
Another simple concept executed to great effect here: Johnny Knoxville is subject to an enormous man-made wave, which rushes over him and knocks him on his ass. There’s no labyrinthine maze or any series of increasingly bizarre and painful challenges. It’s just an enormous amount of water hitting a not-so-enormous man. Knoxville, donning a snorkel and mask, introduces the stunt. The water hits him, and you then realize the wave is so powerful Knoxville isn’t even in the frame anymore. It’s pure slapstick.
18. Fireworks Wake Up, Jackass: The Movie
Parenting is hell, but we’d argue Phil and April Margera had it worse than most. As the subject of frequent torment by their son Bam, the two become unwilling participants in the Jackass universe. The most notable stunt to come at their expense is “Firework Wake Up,” wherein Bam sets off a handful of fireworks in their bedroom in the middle of the evening before Phil has to work. Then, adding a hat on top of a hat, Bam gets Phil again after he climbs into his van to begin his day.
17. Paper Cuts, Jackass: The Movie
Okay, so, yes, “Paper Cuts” is probably the most difficult Jackass segment to sit through. But there’s an artfulness to be found in the sheer pain the two inflict upon themselves, a gruesome dedication so cringy that cameraman Lance Bang nearly passes out as a result. It’s probably for the best a bit wherein Steve-O dunks his head into rubbing alcohol immediately after didn’t make the final cut.
16. The Blindside, Jackass 3D
Knoxville, in full football pads and all, lines up against NFL All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen. You can probably guess where this is going. Allen tackles Knoxville into complete oblivion. TWICE.
Johnny almost looks like he’s permanently embedded in the ground at one point. It also doesn’t help that Johnny can’t contain his juvenile sense of humor. Knoxville goading the NFL pro with “Don’t hit me with your purse this time” also elevates it. The inclusion of American Pie star Seann William Scott as the referee is an added bonus— he looks on with a mix of horror and glee as Allen wreaks havoc on Knoxville’s body. Allen later had nothing but praise for the Jackass crew, calling them “the toughest human beings I’ve ever seen.” He also revealed that his hit on Knoxville separated Johnny’s sternum. A job well done.
15. Beehive Limo, Jackass Number Two
One of the many benefits of watching Jackass is knowing the setup and punchline of a joke and just waiting to see how all the chaos unfurls. Few play out as brilliantly as “Beehive Limo,” where a majority of the guys think they’re on the way to a photoshoot, only to arrive and get accosted by containers of bees that are dumped into the locked limo via the sunroof.It’s hysterical to watch the various forms of fight or flight take place; my personal favorite is Ryan Dunn immediately laying down on his back and trying to kick through the window to escape. Speaking of escapes: of course there’s one last twist, as once the guys do finally get out, they’re subjected to a pile of marbles upon which pretty much everyone slips on as they exit the vehicle.
14. Cajun Obstacle Course, Jackass Number Two
Having spent the majority of my formative years growing up in the South, I can tell you that dip spit is one of the vilest things to ever exist. The Jackass boys learn that lesson the hard way at the conclusion of “Cajun Obstacle Course.” Crawling through crocodile-infested mud and being shot at by professional paintballers doesn’t faze any of the guys until they reach the final stage, wherein the dip comes into play as one final punchline to an already absurd situation. Bam’s stonefaced commitment to downing the dip shot lasts for about two seconds before he begins to wretch (the smell is enough for Knoxville to tap out immediately). Sure, Bam ends up “winning,” but at what cost?
13. Poo Cocktail Supreme, Jackass 3D
Without question, the best use of 3D technology in film is James Cameron’s Avatar. The second-best is “Poo Cocktail Supreme.” Poo-related stunts are the bread and butter of the Jackass franchise, but “Supreme” is the biggest, boldest, and shittest execution yet. The setup involves strapping Steve-O into a completely full-up portajohn (fecal fun fact: the titual “poo” isn’t human, but rather purchased dog poop, as having human extrement was deemed an OSHA violation) and then slingshotting it (and him) up into the air, creating one hell of a shituation. The look on Steve-O’s face as he’s subjected to sheets of flying poo says it all. But the brilliance of the gag lies in the camera placement; the one in the portajohn to capture the carnage and the one on the ground upon which the shit falls are comedic masterstrokes. Thank god 4DX didn’t exist in 2010.
12. Terror Taxi, Jackass Number Two
Most Jackass stunts end in either pain or humiliation. “Terror Taxi” includes these two things, but also includes Ehren McGhehey going through the entire range of human emotions. Dressed as a terrorist, the prank initially starts with Ehren pranking a “random” cab driver in his getup.
That’s when you realize the “random” driver is Broken Lizard veteran Jay Chandrasekhar, who turns the tables on Ehren by pulling a gun on him and locking him in the trunk of the cab. Cue fake gunshots. It just gets more and more ridiculous, as Ehren becomes the patsy instead of the star. To make matters worse, the fake beard he wears is revealed to be from…well, natural sources. This one works because it truly is a tense scene, and you almost sympathize with Ehren. Almost.
11. Little People Bar Fight, Jackass 3D
Jason “Wee Man” Acuña has been used to great effect in various sketches and stunts. His small stature lends itself to hilarious situations but in this stunt, he isn’t acting alone. The scene starts out innocently enough: He’s at the bar with another little person having a beer.
And then another little person (posing as an ex-lover of Wee Man’s date) shows up and things escalate until there are enough little people to start a full-fledged brawl. Not to be outdone, dwarf cops show up to break up the fight and dwarf paramedics appear to carry out a victim. The stunt works because of the bystanders, who are in utter disbelief that any of this is happening.
10. Toro Totter, Jackass Number Two
One of the most brilliant ways Jackass works is making the most innocent things as dangerous as humanly possible. “Toro Totter” takes the childhood game of teeter-totter and ramps it up to the nth degree.
…by adding a live bull.
The goal of the game is to be the last man standing in a 4-person game of teeter totter. Jump up, and you lower your partner directly into the path of a charging bull. Naturally, even when Knoxville is the last man on the device, he, you know…doesn’t leave the path of the bull. Taking a childhood pastime and adding an animal that can vaporize you? That’s pure Jackass, baby.
9. Hardware Store Crap & Miniature Bathroom, Jackass: The Movie/Jackass Number Two
Dave England takes pride in being one of the most disgusting members of the Jackass crew. He claims to be able to shit on command, which, in this world, makes him a valuable member. In the first Jackass, the stunt involves Dave…relieving himself in a display toilet at a hardware store. But even before they could get to the store, Dave shits his pants on the ride over. Not to be outdone, Dave features in Jackass Number Two relieving himself in a dollhouse bathroom. The man clearly is playing to his strengths, which happen to include…rampant shitting.
8. Bungie Boogie, Jackass 3D
The idea—strap one of the guys into a slingshot and send them careening off a ramp into a pool—feels pretty solid on paper, but ends up a little flawed in its execution. More trial & error and timing-based than most other stunts, ,it comes alive once the guys figure out the right cadence. “It wasn’t a slam, but it was pretty impressive,” says Knoxville, ever the perfectionist.
7. Rent-A-Car Demolition Derby, Jackass The Movie
Many movies take their time in building up tension or dramatic elements. Jackass is a different story. Rent-A-Car Demolition Derby is one of the very first stunts in the very first Jackass film. Johnny Knoxville goes to an unsuspecting rental car company and rents a car. Sounds simple, right?
Knoxville promptly takes the car to a chop shop, where it is modified (blow-up doll and all) for a demolition derby. The Jackass guys are known for putting their bodies on the line, and Knoxville is almost crushed to bits by another car.
And then he brings the car back, explaining that he “hit a dog” and mentions that he’s under the influence. The stunt works well on the destruction angle but is heightened by Knoxville being totally nonchalant with the understandably very concerned rental agents.
6. Riot Control Test, Jackass Number Two
The Jackass crew adhere to a sacred rule of comedy: people getting hit with stuff is funny. “Riot Control Test” takes that rule and stretches it to its outermost limit. Knoxville, Bam, and Ryan all subject themselves to a round of claymore rubber bullets. Bam and Ryan are totally freaked out (as is Dave England, who bows out of the stunt) but Knoxville can only laugh. The three then get shot, and show the after effects. Ryan and Bam are in obvious pain, yet Knoxville seems like he’ll just rub some dirt on it.
5. Jet Engine, Jackass 3D
Every single element of “Jet Engine” is sublime: The framing and audio call back to the famous Maxell tape ad, the reveal of the engine itself, Dunn’s wig (and eventually himself) flying backward, the cut to an awe-struck shot of the rest of the guys—it’s all perfect. Another easy-to-explain bit—what would happen if you sat behind the roaring engine of a grounded jet plane?—gets tons of mileage out of a simple execution taken to a logical conclusion. “Jet Engine” is one of the few Jackass stunts where no one appears to get seriously injured and is free of any major gross-out moments—up until the point where Bam tries to pee into the wind, which goes about as well as you’d anticipate. Both that micro-moment and the entirety of “Jet Engine” make this bit a high mark in the series.
4. Department Store Boxing, Jackass: The Movie
Before boxing titans like Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, there was Eric Esch, a.k.a “Butterbean.” Butterbean lacked the ripped stature most boxers have (as his nickname probably indicates) but he had a storied boxing career, culminating in a 77-10-4 overall record.
Well, 78, if you count the time he beat the living shit out of Johnny Knoxville.
The stunt is memorable for various reasons like the confused bystanders looking upon the destruction and Butterbean allowing Knoxville to punch him.But what elevates this bit is a simple question. Knoxville, lying on the floor, bloody and likely concussed (which is confirmed seconds later as they drive him to the hospital) asks the crew:
“Is Butterbean okay?”
3. Butt X-Ray, Jackass: The Movie
This one is especially notable because it’s one of the few times that Steve-O passed on a stunt. He claimed his father “would disown him” if he did it, which says a lot given that Steve-O has snorted wasabi, received a tattoo of himself on his back, and put a fish hook through his own mouth.
So Ryan Dunn stepped up to the plate for the stunt, which called for him to.. shove a toy car up his own ass.
The concept here is funny enough, but what puts this on the list this high is Dunn’s interaction with the staff. Pay close attention to the doctor’s assistant, looking in concern (and a little disgust) when the toy is revealed on the scan.
The doctor also has a memorable turn, as he swears Dunn to secrecy and tells him not to reveal what happened to him. He clearly isn’t in on the joke, and his genuine concern makes this sketch, which concludes the first film, one of the franchise’s very best.
2. Golf Course Airhorn, Jackass: The Movie
Some of the most effective Jackass bits come when the guys encounter folks who are decidedly not having it. Case in point: the staying power of “Golf Course Airhorn” lies with the course’s older, white members’ livid reaction to being messed with; as they attempt to tee off, Knoxville and crew blare an airhorn from the bushes. Instead of just ignoring it and moving on, the golfers acknowledge Knoxville and crew, which only eggs them on even further. Watching stuffy old white dudes get big mad? Never gets old. And who knows? Maybe Knoxville really did have bursitis.
1. The High Five, Jackass 3D
Some of the stunts listed here require intricate planning and meticulous direction. And then you have the High Five, from Jackass 3D. A simple concept really, but one that packs a real punch (literally!). A gigantic hand contraption is set up, and its purpose is simple: slapping the CRAP out of people. Knoxville and Wee-Man are the masterminds, as the unsuspecting victims include Ehren (carrying a tray of soup) and Bam (who is not only slapped but “antiqued” with flour as well). It’s cartoon violence reminiscent of Tom and Jerry dialed up to 11.