SmartLess - SmartLess Media Presents: Pretty Sure I Can Fly with Johnny Knoxville & Elna Baker

Episode Date: April 18, 2024

Pretty Sure I Can Fly is a humorous exploration of things that had never been done, until someone did them. It’s a series of weekly conversations about what it takes to break through the ba...rrier of “impossible” and set new standards for human limitation. Pretty Sure I Can Fly is like going to history class, except your teachers are actor, stuntman, and outlaw radio DJ Johnny Knoxville and long-time This American Life contributor Elna Baker. And each week they bring a new guest to tell you all about how they “grabbed the bull by the bunglesteen” or “really hogwrenched that spatooly.”Listen to Pretty Sure I Can Fly: Privacy Policy at and California Privacy Notice at

Discussion (0)
Starting point is 00:00:00 Guys, Jason had to scoot very quickly and apologize profusely for not being here for this little thing that we're about to do, which we're really excited about. He's missing the party, he's missing the fun. He's missing the party. Yes. He does feel really, really bad.
Starting point is 00:00:12 Yeah. But we have a couple guests with us today for a super quick plug for a new Smartless media show. Yes. Called Pretty Sure I Can Fly. We can't wait for the show, we're super pumped. One of the hosts is a friend of the podcast, has been on before and actor filmmakers made us laugh
Starting point is 00:00:27 for literally years and is a partner in crime as a woman who we haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet. And sorry, and figuratively years. And figuratively years. You said literally years. And figuratively years. But literally years, at least me. And a woman who we haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet
Starting point is 00:00:43 who will be a friend of the show after this little chat and giggle. She's a brilliant writer and producer of one of the all time greats this American life. Love that show. Willie, let's say hello to Johnny Knoxville and Elna Baker. Okay, I'm gonna say hello.
Starting point is 00:00:55 Hello. Well, hello. Hi. Hi guys. This is so exciting that you're here. Tell us about the show. I can't wait. I mean, I know about it,
Starting point is 00:01:03 but tell everybody else about it. Yeah. It's a show about people with more balls than a bowling alley. Sure. It's people who have achieved great things while thumbing their nose at naysayers, established thought, failure, personal safety, and gravity. Yeah, I love that.
Starting point is 00:01:21 I love the press release that says, for people who have done things that have never been done until someone did them. Yeah, I love the press release that says, for people who have done things that have never been done until someone did them. Yeah, that's pretty good writing, huh? Yeah, it's pretty good. And I will say, Knoxville, you've got some history with this, you've obviously spent some time in between, over the years, doing shit that other people won't do, stuff
Starting point is 00:01:45 that seems really scary and gnarly. So I can see it. But Elna, how much of an appetite do you have for doing shit that you're not, you didn't think people could do? I mean, to an extent, I mean, I grew up Mormon, so I wasn't allowed to do anything. Right. So like, for me, I guess, it wasn't like being brave in terms of like jumping off a cliff,
Starting point is 00:02:08 but it was like leaving a religion, giving hand jobs. Like, there were, you know, there were the things that I had to figure out. That was the first thing. Wow. And that's why I joined. Well, that's what led you to leave, ultimately, one of the things, right?
Starting point is 00:02:24 You were 28? Yes, I left at 20. I had, I touched a penis for the first time at 28. Is that true? 28? That is true, yeah. It was touching the penis, the thing that opened the... Yes, it was.
Starting point is 00:02:37 It really was. That was the gateway. Penis was the gateway drug? The penis was the gateway. Yeah. Wow. When did you have your first Coke? Coca-Cola.
Starting point is 00:02:46 Like Coca-Cola? Otherwise she's going to say 8 a.m. I know. I was like a, we were the kind of Mormons who drank Coca-Cola, but I didn't have my first coffee until I was 28. And I remember like being so afraid to order it just because I didn't know how to say the word. Wait, so everything happened at 28? Everything, because I left at 28.
Starting point is 00:03:05 Yeah, once I touched a dick, I was, you know. Yeah, tell me about it. Same. Yeah, tell me about it. Catholicism, same thing. So wait, did you, do you still have family members in the church? Everyone, yeah, everyone is still my man.
Starting point is 00:03:19 Do you still, do you have a good relationship? Decent, yeah, great, yeah. Johnny, what about you? Well, I started with decent. I mean, I'd love to dig into that a little bit. You opened with decent. Yeah, great. Yeah, Johnny. What about you? I'll start it with decent. I mean, I'd love to dig into that You open with decent I'm gonna take you word as they might hear this By the way, if they're listening to this then they're lapsed and then they're just as guilty as you are and now the playing field Is level. Yeah, but Johnny do you any what denomination did you grow up in? Catholicism? Oh, Southern Baptist, it was intense.
Starting point is 00:03:46 I knew that. Was it hardcore? I didn't realize how intense it was at the time. It's not like the Pentecostals who handle snakes, but in Southern Baptist, you're not supposed to dance or, you know. But my parents didn't believe in... They weren't that strict, so... But if you handle the Pentecostals, they could maybe be on an episode of Pretty Sure I Can Fly, because if they're handling snakes...
Starting point is 00:04:19 Oh, yeah. That's what I'm saying. I'm saying being so repressed makes you want to go take these risks later on in life Oh, totally. I mean that's one of the things that like I love about interviewing the different people we've interviewed is like I Remember this sports writer telling me that like all the greatest athletes had some primal wound That and that thing that happened in their childhood is what makes them like achieve or even try for sure and so many of these people that we've talked to like you find out Oh like, you know Manny Pigg who you know, you've seen on a Jackass and who Johnny knows like I had no idea that like his father was killed by a firing squad in Cuba
Starting point is 00:04:57 Like the origins of what made him crazy do these insane brave things Came from like something really deep and real or like Garrett McNamara who's the 100 foot wave guy. You learn about his child. It's bonkers. Like he basically like at one point his mother was this hippie but she put him in this cult. A lot of cults. A lot of cults but the sort of the most memorable.
Starting point is 00:05:23 He was in many cults? Many cults, but the most memorable. He was in many cults? Many cults, but the one they had to renounce all their possessions, he and his brother had to wear bedsheets. They just walked around. They had to beg for everything. They couldn't buy anything.
Starting point is 00:05:37 And it was just so humiliating to be walking the streets in Berkeley in these outfits begging for things. And these back stories are like what get them to do these things. It's incredible. Johnny, have any of these stories inspired you to try something? Well, I'm a little slow on the uptake, so I'm trying to not do things anymore. I'm trying to overcome my, you know, my...
Starting point is 00:06:07 Addiction to putting yourself in dangerous situations. It became an addiction. It did become an addiction. It must, it must. Was there a thing, was there like a common trait that you noticed in a lot of these people that you, other than the childhood, a lot of them came from difficult childhoods.
Starting point is 00:06:23 Anything else that sort of gave people that you, other than the childhood, a lot of them came from difficult childhoods. Anything else that gave you that fearlessness? I think the, yeah, if there's a through line, people on the show, it's bravery and being colorful. And these people are extremely determined. Very determined. Wow. And usually, I mean, it's complicated though, right? Because like you're talking about like adrenaline junkies, right?
Starting point is 00:06:50 Right, right. Some are. Some, like, get in and then kind of become addicted and then they're trying to accomplish something great, but they're also like putting their, I mean, you're a perfect example, Johnny. Like you... Put your life on the line. Yeah, you kept putting your life on the line and then ultimately suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Starting point is 00:07:10 So, like, there's this level at which, like, you're on the razor's edge of admiring and also being like, you guys should stop. You should stop. Sean wants to know, and just ask, he doesn't want to embarrass himself, can you get a traumatic brain injury from watching TV every night? You can but But look at me. I'm still here. Hey Sean
Starting point is 00:07:31 Have you seen hundred foot wave by the way? No, you have to watch this so the good thing and it's by that guy Garrett McNamara, I definitely told you about it in right watching what watching what he these big wave surfers do not just Garrett but all those guys, when I see those guys, when they're like, man, there's a storm coming to Portugal, to Nazaré. We gotta get there, we've got 48 hours, we need to get there, because there's a fucking crazy storm, and I need to get on a surfboard
Starting point is 00:08:00 and have a dude tow me in behind a ski-doo so I can get on the storm waves. And I'm thinking like, I'm looking for the closest restaurant that's got a happy hour. I wanna make sure. I'm looking for the next. What do they have on draft?
Starting point is 00:08:15 I'm looking for the next Harry Potter movie. I'm like, crazy. But yeah, that's insane. So are you guys, is it fun? Have you guys been having a good time? Like is it like, it's gotta be fascinating to learn all these stories, they sound incredible. It's so fascinating.
Starting point is 00:08:30 Yeah, I mean just talking to Ty Stokes, who was on the Jamaican founding member of the Jamaican bobsled team, the real story behind that team is so much more interesting than the movie. Cool Runnings? Yeah. Yeah, Cool Runnings butchered it.
Starting point is 00:08:46 Like the actual story. Wait, now you're telling me that the Disney movie Cool Runnings that was trying to capitalize on the Jamaican bobsled team, it wasn't true. I'm trying to take this away from you. Really? That's great.
Starting point is 00:08:59 Cool story? Oh, it's an insane story. He got put on this team like a mere months before the Olympics started. They didn't have a bobsled, they didn't have a bobsled track. They'd never been on ice? Yeah, they didn't have a place to train. They didn't even get to go down the... A bobsled down the...
Starting point is 00:09:18 What do you call it? The hill or whatever? The track, with a... Like what? Two or three weeks before the Olympics for the first time? Are you serious? Yeah. How did they qualify?
Starting point is 00:09:29 Do you know this? They ended up training for months. They trained on daiquiris. They would go... So stupid. How did they qualify? Anyway, you know what? We're going to listen to the podcast.
Starting point is 00:09:37 That's what we're going to find out. We're going to listen to it. I can't wait. It's called Pretty Sure I Can Fly. It's Johnny Knoxville and Elna Baker together again. You guys make such a great pair. The show sounds great. It's a great show. It's a great show. It's a Can Fly. It's Johnny Knoxville and Elna Baker together again.
Starting point is 00:09:47 You guys make such a great pair. The show sounds so awesome. I truly can't wait to listen to it. Yeah, it's really good. It is available right now on whatever podcast platform you're currently listening to. Yeah, thank you. Thank you so much, Johnny and Elna. All right, thank you.
Starting point is 00:10:01 Thank you. Thanks, guys. Thanks a lot, we appreciate it. We're about to play a clip from Pretty Sure I Can Fly. Follow Pretty Sure I Can Fly on the Wondery app or wherever you get your podcasts. ["Pretty Sure I Can Fly"] Ladies and gentlemen, Travis Mastrana. Everybody in this house is now standing up
Starting point is 00:10:24 and cheering on the 199. Go Travis! Can you tell me the story of the double backflip? Because that to me was also, I mean, I got chills in that moment in the movie, but I would love to hear you tell me the story. There's very few times in your life where something that means so much to you means so much to a group around you and even more rare that it means that much to the world. I still have people tell me almost once a week I get someone that still remembers where
Starting point is 00:10:56 they were at that moment. My grandma and all her friends watch it. It's live on TV. My mom was crying because she had known that you know I'm about 75% in the foam pit, but if it comes around short, there's a really good chance of a broken neck or Paralyzed her it was a really and even up until you did it It seemed like was it really like I don't know if I'm gonna go through with it or not and the reason Okay, we're just explaining like you always say I'm in or I'm out.
Starting point is 00:11:25 The reason this was such a tough decision for me, and I think the reason that it got built up more was because I was on the fence on this. I have an opportunity to go out there and try a trick that I've been working for for three, four years, but I'm sitting third. So I'm like, if I don't do a double backflip, I still get a medal.
Starting point is 00:11:42 I still get paid, which is going to really help everything else that I've been putting into rally. And is my goal to be a freestyle motocross rider or is my goal to continue on in action sports and to have a career that's going to expand hopefully longer? And it worked out in rally. And I said, said you know what I'm both said I'm gonna land this trick and went out there and decided like literally last second played rock-paper-scissors with my redneck friend Hubert wait you you the deciding factor was a rock-paper-scissors right before I went up there Hubert we went rock-paper-scissors I gave thumbs up to basically Sal and
Starting point is 00:12:23 the guys and they're like all all right, they raised the ramp. And no one has ever done this before. At that time, I had done it to a sand pile in a controlled environment. That was a big step up. So if you came up short or didn't make it, it sucked, but it was, you know, so. Yeah. It was a hard surface that day, right? I was just blue grove.
Starting point is 00:12:43 It was, it was pretty much worst case scenario for me. We took the ramp that was already existing and then raised it on two by fours. It looked like something we'd built in our backyard for like, you know, when we were five years old. And it's like, you know, my dad's out there like strapping the ramp down and trying to get it so it doesn't move because if the ramp falls over, then I'm definitely going to deep crap. And so you're up there and you're about to go.
Starting point is 00:13:07 Yeah, it was one of the coolest experiences ever. Got up there and the guy that drops me in, he gave me a thumbs up. He said, it's on you, take your time. And I looked around and every single person was on their feet. Entire sold out, Staples Center, all of my heroes, you had Kevin Robinson, you had Chad Kegge, they were holding hands.
Starting point is 00:13:30 I had Brian Deegan, all the militia was all down there looking. It was one of the coolest experiences and I remember inside my helmet smiling and when I dropped in, everything kind of went to slow motion. Usually you get a slow motion if anyone's crashed a car or been in a really bad, like where you think everything's going bad. I've never had slow motion where I took off and I can remember the smells, I can remember the sounds,
Starting point is 00:13:53 I can remember everything was so vivid. And I came around on the first pull and I checked the landing and I remember thinking, as Trevor Jacobs said later, he's like, oh, you can't check. And I'm like, oh no, now I'm short. And I whip my head back and I see the lights. So when you practice this trick, you know, in the foam pit, you have, you know, you got the sky above you and in the ground. But on this day, you've got blinding lights where you can't see anything straight ahead of you. And then below you is kind of dark. And I
Starting point is 00:14:21 just remember kind of just smiling again. I'm like, well, I'm all in. I can't I can't get out of this now. And I came around and like literally hit couldn't hit better. And I was just like, what the heck just happened? I dropped down and dropped the bike and I run up. And the first person there was just some drunk guy out of the stands that just overpowered the security and gave me a big hug up top. Like, I don't even know you. Yes, let's go.
Starting point is 00:14:50 Oh my word. Are you kidding me? How many times can you find the holy grail in one building? A double backflip from Travis Pastrana. So that was pretty cool. I was at home watching it live and it was like, I had tears going down my cheeks like the end of Old Yeller because it was such an amazing moment and so memorable. Yeah, I was blown away. Is that, you think that's the biggest moment
Starting point is 00:15:23 of your career or? Moment that the world felt what I felt? You can listen to Pretty Sure I Can Fly early and ad free by joining Wondery Plus. Join Wondery Plus in the Wondery app or on Apple podcasts.

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