When the Dallas Comedy House booked Jackass star Preston Lacy to be one of their headliners for the stand-up section of their annual Dallas Comedy Festival, they had to make a special agreement.
"I had to agree with the venue that I wouldn't be bringing any animals or weapons or anything like that," Lacy said. "They said, 'You know that there's no stunts, right?' I said, 'Yeah, I know.'"
There was just a hint of mild disappointment in Lacy's voice when he said, "Yeah, I know" as if he truly relishes the opportunity to hurt, humiliate or harm himself for an audience's amusement. Then again, just about every comedian who steps out on a stage is willing to do the same thing for an audience whether it's telling an embarrassing story from their past or sliding down a chute coated with sex jelly into a pyramid of trash cans.
Lacy, the star of the TV and movie versions of the Jackass franchise, is bound to have a ton of stories about both even if he won't be allowed to let a pig eat an apple out of his butt-crack on stage tonight at 8:30 and 10 p.m. at the Dallas Comedy House.
Lacy first got bit by the showbiz bug in his native Missouri and started driving trucks to earn enough money to make it to Hollywood. He starred in a bunch of commercials including one that aired during Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 for Napster's attempt to become a legitimate business. He became a regular player on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno before meeting with future Jackass star PJ Clapp aka Johnny Knoxville.
"I met Knoxville from a couple of commercial auditions together where they say, 'You two and you two and you two together' and you start visiting with whoever you're going into the audition room with and try to get to know them so you can get a little bit of chemistry together," he said. "That's where I met him, and he asked me to write him some ideas [for Jackass]. I told him the show sounded really dumb and that we should do more of a situation comedy."
That dumb idea earned a huge foothold in pop culture after its premiere on MTV in 2000. It also gave Lacy and the rest of the show's cast of lovable idiots their first chance at national exposure on a groundbreaking stunt show where actually completing the stunts were secondary to finding new and hilarious ways to fail.
Lacy originally just worked as a writer for the show but Knoxville insisted that Lacy do a couple of the stunts he proposed and ended up becoming one of the show's most familiar faces, most notably as the heavy set man who can never catch the diminutive Jason "Wee Man" Acuña.
"I wrote Knoxville ideas for this and he said you have to do these. Next thing you know, I'm in the series."
The insane success of the show led to three top box office draws with Paramount Pictures including Jackass: The Movie that finished first in its opening week, Jackass: Number Two and Jackass 3D. Lacy said he wrote perhaps the most famous scene from all three movies: the opening sequence from the first film in which the Jackass crew rides a giant shopping cart down a street of chaos.
"I was at a Universal lot where they have all sorts of crazy costumes and cars and I saw the Delorean from Back to the Future and I ran up to look at it and right next to it was a giant shopping cart [from the Lily Tomlin movie The Incredible Shrinking Woman]," Lacy said. "I thought damn, that's it right there."
The success of the shows and the films also led to tours where some of the Jackass crew would do some of their more famous stunts and even some stand-up for crowds who wanted to know more about the behind-the-scenes of comedy's most successful slapstick series.
"When the movies came out, we did more stand-up and started discussing more of the Jackass stuff and we weren't really doing as many stunts on stage because that freaks out most of the venues," Lacy said with a laugh.
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Lacy said stand-up feels like a natural transition from his stunt comedy work because he would pitch bits that sounded better suited for a comedy club stage than a group of masochists willing to bludgeon or brain themselves for our amusement.
"I've turned into ideas for stunts to [Jackass director Jeff Tremaine] and Knoxville and they're like that's just standup comedy," he said. "There's no stunt there at all and while I've been writing standup comedy, I've come up with some good stunts."
Lacy describes his stand-up as a mix of personal observations about everything from "fat people jokes to flying because everybody hates the damn TSA," although he insists that he never tries to get too political. He also shares some of the more sickening stories about his time with the Jackass crew.
"I'm going to make them laugh from the very start to the very end but they are probably going to get sick to their stomach three or four times in the middle based on various incidents that include bodily fluids and farm animals," Lacy said, "all of which sadly are true."