The show developed from Big Brother Magazine, a skateboarding-related humor magazine that Jeff Tremaine, Dave Carnie, Rick Kosick and Chris Pontius all worked for, and featured regular contributions from Johnny Knoxville and Dave England, among others. The concept of Jackass dates back to 1999 when struggling-actor-turned-writer Johnny Knoxville birthed the idea to test different self defense devices on himself as the basis for an article. He pitched the idea to a couple of magazines and was turned down until meeting with Jeff Tremaine of Big Brother. Jeff hired him as a journalist and convinced Johnny to videotape this idea and other stunts for stories. The footage, which involved Knoxville being tasered, maced, and ultimately shot while wearing a bulletproof vest, appeared in the second Big Brother skateboarding movie Number Two (which is also the title of the second Jackass theatrical film) Johnny and the videos quickly became a hit. Future Jackass castmember Wee-Man made an appearance in the videos, and Florida clown Steve-O would send in submissions to be part of the videos.
Big Brother would go on road trips, which is believed to be where Johnny met Bam Margera and they became good friends. In addition to skateboarding, Bam Margera had recently released a movie entitled Landspeed:CKY which consisted of himself and his friends, which he dubbed the "CKY Crew", in West Chester, Pennsylvania performing various skits and stunts. Among the Crew included the colorful cast of Ryan Dunn, Brandon Dicamillo, and Raab Himself, as well as Margera's family April, Phil, Don Vito, and Jess Margera. Jeff Tremaine saw the tapes and drafted Bam and his crew into what would become the cast of Jackass. Later, the Jackass crew would personally recruit Steve-O in a Florida Flea Market where he worked as a clown for part of the show. To round out the cast, Dave England brought in his friend Ehren McGhehey, a fellow Oregon resident and extreme stunt participator.
Tremaine drafted his friend, director Spike Jonze to get involved with the show, and together, he, Jonze, and Johnny Knoxville served as executive producers. The idea show was pitched, and the cast was initially given an offer by Saturday Night Live to perform the stunts weekly for the show, though the offer was turned down. A bidding war eventually occurred between Comedy Central and MTV, which MTV eventually won. It was then that Jackass was born
Jackass is an American television series, originally shown on MTV from 2000 to 2002, featuring people performing various dangerous, crude, ridiculous, and self-injuring stunts and pranks. The show served as a launchpad for the television and acting careers of Johnny Knoxville and Bam Margera. Since 2002, two Jackass theatrical films have been produced and released by MTV corporate sibling Paramount Pictures, continuing the franchise after its run on television. It is one of MTV's most popular shows and sparked several spin-offs including Viva La Bam, Wildboyz, Homewrecker, Dr. Steve-O, and Blastazoid.
In 2008, Entertainment Weekly called Jackass the 68th greatest show of the past 25 years