Whether his life is labeled “shockingly short” or “appropriately short” is a judgment best left to historians (assuming future historians of our planet will be interested in early 21st century pop-cultural blips). But there’s definitely something poetically fitting in the fact that 34-year-old Ryan Dunn, a regular fixture on MTV’s “Jackass” and host of G4’s new show “Proving Ground,” died in a fiery car crash in the early morning hours of Monday, June 20. According to police reports, Dunn’s Porsche 911 GT3 crashed through a guardrail in suburban Philadelphia, sailed through 40 yards of trees and exploded in a fireball that left behind little but charred bits of twisted metal. Cops said “speed may have been a contributing factor to the accident.” Unfortunately, alcohol may have contributed as well. A few hours before the 3 a.m. crash, Dunn tweeted a picture of himself drinking with two friends at a bar. One of those friends enablingly characterized the drinks to TMZ.com as three beers and some “girly shots.” Alcohol and sports cars do not a wicked awesome stunt make.
Dunn started his life-threatening career as a member of the infamous CKY posse. With high school pals Bam Margera, Christopher Raab and Brandon DiCamillo, Dunn released a series of wildly popular videotapes in the late ’90s featuring crazy skateboarding tricks and bodily injury stunts. CKY became the spiritual godfather to today’s “hit yourself in the crotch on YouTube” crowd and steered Dunn and pals right into the path of Johnny Knoxville. Skateboard-
Recently, Dunn became the co-host of G4’s “Proving Ground” alongside video game journalist Jessica Chobot. G4’s press releases described the two as “risk-taking” and “gorgeous,” respectively. The show is a comedic takeoff on Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters.” Each week, the “Proving Ground” team tests out weapons, vehicles and gadgets from video games, movies and comic books to see how well they work in the real world. In the first episode, for example, Dunn and Chobot went head-to-head in a real-life re-creation of the Mario Kart video game.
Unfortunately, the show only pulled a meager 31,000 viewers on its June 14 premiere. In light of recent events, G4 has yanked it off the air for now. “The show is off the schedule as of today until we discuss next steps,” a G4 spokesperson told the press after news of Dunn’s death hit the Internet. “Proving Ground” isn’t exactly original and was basically just an excuse to watch Dunn get hit in the crotch with pies. But it’s as fitting an epitaph as any for the man who once jumped into a septic tank wearing flippers and a diving mask. Rest in peace, ya Jackass.