You did not misread that producer’s name, by the way. The auteur behind critically lauded films like “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation,” and “Her” is indeed an old friend of Johnny Knoxville, and he has been working behind the scenes of “Jackass” since the early days. It was Spike Jonze himself who teased the origin of that sub-iconic catchphrase in a recent GQ article detailing Knoxville’s rise to pop culture infamy. And according to Jonze, Knoxville borrowed it from none other than The Man in Black, Johnny Cash.
Knoxville apparently improvised the phrase as well when he, Jonze, and “Jackass” director Jeff Tremaine were trying to figure out how to introduce each segment on the original MTV series. Per Jonze’s email statement to GQ, “He [Knoxville] started saying, ‘Hi, I’m Johnny Knoxville and this is the Cup Test,’ or whatever it was.” Though he didn’t initially key on the Cash tie-in, Jonze admitted to having a lightbulb sort of moment when he later heard the same words on a Johnny Cash record, “Only later, I remember listening to ‘Johnny Cash Live,’ and hearing Johnny Cash say, ‘Hi, I’m Johnny Cash and this is “Folsom Prison Blues,” and a lightbulb went off. I was like, damn…no wonder it’s so iconic.”
Seems the old saying about “if you’re gonna borrow, borrow from the best,” remains as true as ever. Though one has to wonder if Cash himself was aware that his own iconic phrase was being used for such unabashed silliness.