The death of Jackass co-star Ryan Dunn may not have packed the kind of shock and grief that Clarence Clemons’ passing certainly did. But the news that Dunn, the guy best known for driving a golf cart into a pig statue in the first Jackass film, was killed earlier this morning after crashing his car in Pennsylvania is rather tragic.
Dunn, a longtime associate of pro skater Bam Margera and a great presence on MTV’s Viva La Bam and the underrated Homewrecker, probably deserves a lot more credit than he gets for helping spearhead a certain kind of humor in America. While the origins of Jackass are certainly piecemeal, partially rooted in Johnny Knoxville’s self-administered tests against Tasers and other harmful devices for the skateboarding/humor magazine Big Brother, Dunn, Margera and company added the key ingredient of Jackass‘ appeal: camaraderie. The notion of guys goofing around in the name of fun turned people like Judd Apatow into money-printing factories as the decade wore on; Margera’s merry band of pranksters sort of laid the groundwork for that sort of humor, only with a lot more kicks to the groin.
Some will certainly call Dunn’s tragic, premature death the only logical conclusion to his at-times irresponsible life. (By now, many of us have seen the picture Dunn tweeted of his friends drinking mere hours before his death.) But not only is that a terrible thing to say about a human life, it also undervalues the fact that Dunn, as part of Jackass and Margera’s CKY Crew, made us laugh with his hijinks and shenanigans. So let’s raise a (responsibly-sized) glass to the life of Ryan Dunn.