‘Jackass’: How Johnny Knoxville Got His Iconic Catchphrase

by Liz Holland
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Even if you’re not familiar with “Jackass,” almost everyone can recognize star Johnny Knoxville’s famous catchphrase. The stunt performer introduces every crazy maneuver he does with, “I’m Johnny Knoxville, and this is….” But, you’ll never believe what inspired the simple yet iconic phrase. 

In case you missed it, the “Jackass” crew is back with a new installment. “Jackass Forever” premiered in theaters just a few weeks ago on February 4th, earning over $23.5 million in it’s first box office weekend. Despite a 12 year hiatus and a global pandemic, the “Jackass” guys have certainly proved how much people love to watch adults willingly do stupid and crazy things for entertainment. The film surpassed it’s biggest box office competitors, including “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

Knoxville has been a long-time ringleader for the “Jackass” gang, helping it form into the giant that it is today. The franchise now has four feature films, and without Knoxville it just wouldn’t be the same. One of his signature markers is his catchy introductory phrase for each stunt, which he actually adapted from another famous Johnny. “Jackass” producer Spike Jonze revealed to GQ why the well-known phrase sticks out in people’s minds. 

Johnny Knoxville’s Signature Line Was Total Improv… Almost

Apparently, the comedian improvised the phrase at first. It happened when Knoxville, Jonze, and “Jackass” director Jeff Termaine were brainstorming how to introduce different segments on the original MTV series.

“He [Knoxville] started saying, ‘Hi, I’m Johnny Knoxville and this is the Cup Test,’ or whatever it was,” Jonze told GQ.  “Only later, I remember listening to Johnny Cash Live, and hearing Johnny Cash say, ‘Hi, I’m Johnny Cash and this is “Folsom Prison Blues,” ’ and a lightbulb went off. I was like, damn…no wonder it’s so iconic.”

Knoxville proves time and time again that he truly is the bread and butter of the successful franchise. Aside from his ability to think on the spot, he brings a certain charm to his stunts.

“He was the first one out of all of us who was able to convey his thoughts to the camera,” Tremaine told GQ. Fellow “Jackass” member Steve-O added that he thinks Knoxville’s clumsiness is what makes him so magnetic.  “I think that the fact that he is the least f—ing coordinated guy ever is what makes his stunts so amazing,” he said. “So many of us grew up on a skateboard, sort of developing a natural instinct for falling down. Knoxville doesn’t have any of that, so when Knoxville falls down, it’s like, it’s devastating.” 

‘Jackass’ Co-Star Commends His Courage

Aside from being a klutz, it’s Knoxville’s courage that makes him such a valuable addition, according to Steve-O. “There’s nobody else on the cast who’s ever going to roll the dice with their life like that,” he said. “…It’s so counterintuitive.… You’ve got your main guy not only not having a stunt double, not only doing his own stuff, but putting himself in the most reckless jeopardy that you can. It’s just so f—ing backwards, you know?”

The newest “Jackass Forever” is still in theaters so if you haven’t had a chance to see the madness for yourself, there’s still time. The film features some insane stunts, including one with a Bull that gave Knoxville a concussion. Not to worry– the brave actor has no regrets.

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