It’s Been Over Ten Years Since Steve-O Blessed Us With ‘Fear Factor’ Meets ‘American Idol’
If the maniacs of Jackass hosted a TV series where everyday people would try to complete Jackass-style challenges while singing pop hits from the 1980s and 1990s, truTV would probably sue them for ripping off Killer Karaoke, a short-lived game show hosted by Steve-O that tested the limits of how truly insane television competitions could be in their torment of eager challengers.
Back in 2012, the sadists at truTV recruited Steve-O for a series that aimed to be the deformed love child of Fear Factor and American Idol as they asked everyday people to complete extreme challenges — such as being tied to a chair and dunked in snake-infested waters or don a puffy protective suit and get mauled by a pack of vicious guard dogs — all while belting songs from Wham! and ABBA.
Killer Karaoke was basically truTV’s answer to the question of, “What if Simon Cowell was a Jigsaw-esque serial killer?”
The idea for Killer Karaoke came from a one-season British TV show called Sing If You Can, a singing competition where celebrities were asked to belt their favorite tunes while the show’s production staff attempted to distract them with disruptions such as a surprise spinning stage or a cacophony of balloons popping. truTV took that concept and added some good old-fashioned American maximalism as they amped up the challenges to appalling new heights.
Steve-O was a natural fit for the series, and its eight-episode first season fared well with the Jackass star as the host and rock legend Dee Snider as the event’s master of ceremonies. Contestants could win up to $10,000 (though no one in the first season exceeded a pot of $7,800) as they endured some of the most traumatizing TV challenges to ever avoid a liability lawsuit. All the while, Steve-O had to watch them knowing he had done a lot more for a lot less during the early Jackass years.
The Jackass star’s involvement in Killer Karaoke was short-lived, however — Steve-O objected to the use of animals in many of the challenges as any number of reptiles were used for torture purposes with little regard for their safety. Steve-O was replaced by Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath for the show’s second season, which Steve-O says was a result of his objections to the network. “As we went into the second season, I was like, ‘Hey guys, I’m not cool with the animal stuff’” he said in a 2019 interview. “And so, they were like, ‘Oh, that’s great, you’re fired.’”
The second season of Killer Karaoke would be its last as truTV shut the doors on their most deranged competition show to date after just 16 total episodes. The legacy of Killer Karaoke is now limited to an interesting footnote in Steve-O’s insane career in show business, but with the way TV shows are being revived nowadays, we shouldn’t count out a comeback season — though a Jackass musical would probably achieve the same effect.
Let’s see how well Johnny Knoxville sings when he’s covered in fish guts and scorpions.