Mel Brooks once defined the difference between comedy and tragedy: “Tragedy is if I’ll cut my finger…Comedy is if you walk into an open sewer and die.” By that definition (except for the “die” part), the Jackass franchise is pure comedy.
Unleashed upon the world in 2000, Jackass ran for three groin-punching, BMX-jousting, vomit-inducing seasons on MTV, before expanding to the big screen in 2002 with the aptly-titled, Jackass: The Movie. Over the next two decades, eight Jackass-branded movies have earned just shy of $1 billion in the United States and abroad.
The newest, Jackass Forever, a Paramount Home Entertainment release, is available from Redbox to rent at the Kiosk or to buy or rent On Demand. The fourth feature film to feature Johnny Knoxville and his band of merry Jackassers (and the first since 2011’s Jackass 3.5) is one of the year’s biggest box office hits as well as one of its most critically-acclaimed films. You read that right: critically-acclaimed. In his four-star review, RogerEbert.com reviewer Matt Zoller Seitz called it, “Equal parts Buster Keaton-Jackie Chan slapstick extravaganza, WWE-styled spectacle, and “geek trick.”
Redbox got a chance to visit with Sean “Poopies” McInerney and Rachel Wolfson, who make their Jackass debut in Jackass Forever. McInerney and Wolfson, the first woman admitted to Jackass’ heretofore exclusive boy’s club, bring their infectious lifelong love of Jackass to the screen and own fearlessness to their stunts. Suffice to say, being a surfer and a standup comedian, respectively, prepares you well for the Jackass-verse. In his very first stunt for the franchise, McInerney literally jumped the shark, only to fall short into a shark tank, where his hand got good and Jaws’d.
Sean and Rachel talk about growing up Jackass, what stunt they would never do, and why they think Jackass Forever should have been nominated for an Oscar this year.
Redbox: Many SNL cast members say it was their childhood dream to be on that show. Was it the same for you two and Jackass?
Sean “Poopies” McInerney: For sure. I grew up watching. That’s how I got my nickname. (At the encouragement of friends), I pooped in the street in my town as a Jackass-like prank. I’m very blessed to be on the crew. I did something right.
Rachel Wolfson: I was a huge MTV kid growing up. Jackass was very much a part of my childhood. If you had told six-year-old me that one day I was gonna be a Jackass, I would have been, ‘I believe you.’
RB: Rachel, your family is like a Law & Order spinoff. Your father was a judge, your mother a district attorney and your sister is a lawyer. What was their reaction to you becoming the first woman of Jackass?
RW: They wanted to know how my therapist felt about it [Laughs]. They were naturally skeptical, as they only know what they know of Jackass, which is a group of guys hurting themselves for entertainment. I just told my parents that I love them, but I was going to do it.
RB: What do you both remember from being brought in for a two-day test prior to being cast? Was there any hazing to determine if you were “one of us”?
SPM: The hazing is all in front of the camera. They’re all super-cool.
RW: I wouldn’t call it hazing. Behind the scenes it’s very much a group of old friends busting each other’s balls.
RB: Sean, you’re a surfer, Rachel, you’re a stand-up comedian. Those avocations require a fearlessness that would seem to prepare you for Jackass. Rachel, which is more intimidating: facing down a scorpion before it bites you or telling jokes to a theater full of strangers?
RW: Both are intimidating, There’s a lot of pain that goes into becoming a stand-up comedian, albeit mostly emotional. Also, it’s very much a boy’s club, let’s call it what it is. So, I’m used to working around guys. All of that prepared me to go out there and have a good time.
RB: And you, Sean?
SPM: The ocean’s a crazy place. I prefer the land stunts for Jackass to big wave surfing.
But we trust in our safety team; if anything bad happens they’re right on it.
RB: Jackass has a weird dynamic: It’s a tight knit community where you have each other’s backs. But yet you take infinite pleasure in pranking each other and causing each other pain.
SPM: One person will prank someone and then they have to top that prank. It’s about who can get someone the best? That’s the goal.
RW: There’s this saying in comedy when it comes to roast battling: You only roast the ones you love. I feel like that speaks to Jackass. Because they’re so tight-knit and we’re such a family, that’s why it’s so funny. At the end of the day, anything that happens between any of us is done in love, but the point is pain.
RB: Complete this sentence: I would do anything for Jackass, but I won’t do…what?
SPM: Probably jump the shark again.
RW: Anything they’d ask me to do, I most likely would say yes. I didn’t say no to anything (for the movie). I’m coming from a comedic place. I know they’re trying to get the best shot. For me to get super super hurt would not be funny. I’m trusting them that they know to put me in situations where comedy will occur.
RB: Words that will probably never be associated with Jackass are “And the Oscar goes to….” What film did you want to win the Academy Award this year for Best Picture?
RW: Jackass Forever. The special effects, the puppetry; I don’t think people realize the artistry that went into it. Stunt workers need representation in Hollywood. People risk lives for our entertainment.
RB: Will it be another 10 years before the next Jackass movie?
RW: I hope not. If they ask, we’re there.
SPM: If I don’t hear anything in three years, I’ll put out my own movie. It will be called Poop-ass.