Johnny Knoxville Was Offered ‘Saturday Night Live’ But Chose ‘Jackass’ Instead

Under the scrutiny of a lie detector, Knoxville comes clean about ‘SNL’
Johnny Knoxville Was Offered ‘Saturday Night Live’ But Chose ‘Jackass’ Instead

It’s Johnny Knoxville’s turn in the Vanity Fair hot seat, the chair where celebrities answer potentially embarrassing questions while hooked up to a twitching lie detector. (Full disclosure: Polygraph tests are wrong 13 percent of the time, so take all of this with 87% of a grain of salt.) But the tester determined that it was true that Knoxville turned down a chance to be on Saturday Night Live.

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SNL was “going to offer me about five minutes each week to do something like a video piece,” Knoxville said without setting off any lie detector bells. But at the same, Jackass looked like it could become a reality. “The deal was finally getting done but it took a couple of years. So I had to choose between me going on my own on Saturday Night Live — it was a very competitive show — or kind of bet on myself and my friends. It was a crazy move at the time, but I just bet on me and my friends. It was a tough one.” 

That meant a lot fewer torn urethras at 30 Rock, but plenty of crazed injuries for Jackass fans. Thanks to the interview, here are a few more Knoxville facts that have now been certified as true:

  • His real name is Phillip John Clapp. He changed it because he wanted something snappier (and that didn’t sound like a venereal disease). 
  • He considers himself a silver fox, but not at the level of Harrison Ford or George Clooney.
  • Evel Knievel didn’t appreciate the antics of the Jackass crew at an ESPN awards show. Knoxville doesn’t blame him. 
  • Knoxville didn’t let his daughter watch the Jackass movies and actively discourages his son from attempting outrageous stunts. 
  • Caught in a lie: Coyote Ugly was not his greatest acting achievement.
  • Studios prevent him from doing his own stunts in non-Jackass movies, although Jackie Chan let him try a few. 
  • He has been denied health insurance coverage.
  • Concussions and broken bones are bad, but the worst pain he’s endured was from pepper spray.
  • Eric Andre quit Prank Panel three times during the first week thanks to co-host Knoxville’s constant tricks. “On his show, no one goes after him,” says Knoxville, who had to promise Andre he’d cool it on the pranks. “He’s used to being the hammer and not the nail.”
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