I own a “Captain Explosion: LAST BLAST TOUR” t-shirt as a memento from one of my favorite creative projects of all time. The shirt is bright red and has a skull with dynamite crossbones, celebrating daredevil James “Crash” Moreau, aka “The Human Bomb.”
I do not wear this at airports.
Last night, I was thrilled to see Crash pop up on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Watch the NBC trailer above and you’ll understand the gist of his “Human Bomb” act — if you couldn’t figure it out from the subtle title.
Crash was one of the stars of “Hell Drivers: America’s Original Crash Test Dummies,” a documentary film I made in 2007 with my talented cohorts Peter Koziell, Al Ward and Greg Constantine at Award Productions.
The four of us chased county fair daredevils, or “Hell Drivers” across America for a year — with our movie screening at film festivals, in high-profile living rooms and eventually spawning a “Hell Drivers” reality show pilot for Country Music Television (CMT). We watched guys smash school busses, mobile homes, and the occasional flaming garbage truck — with no more protection than a motorcycle helmet and ordinary seatbelt. I can still smell the exhaust and burnt rubber.
The theme of “Hell Drivers” was perseverance in the face of rejection and six years later, it’s awesome to see Crash (in his mid-70s) still chasing the dream.
Bringing his county fair act to millions of people is an amazing feat, period, so the fact that Crash won’t be “moving on to Las Vegas” is meaningless. The producers surely signed him up as a one-time act, because what would he have done the following week? Blown himself up twice?
SPOILER ALERT: You can watch what happened on the show yourself or you can read on for my synopsis.
The judges were blunt. Howard Stern told Crash he needed to be more melodramatic, which is definitely not in his monotone and no-nonsense DNA. “In this age of special effects movies, you have to be more of a showman,” he advised. “We have to know there’s danger and I’m not so sure we knew that.”
Maybe Stern would have been happier with Doug Danger, the heir apparent to Evel Knievel whom we also featured in “Hell Drivers.” Danger gives an emotional (and rehearsed) speech about life and death before every jump and can strategically cry on cue.
Comedian Howie Mandell disagreed, calling Crash’s act “amazing and scary.” But his enthusiasm didn’t influence former Spice Girl Mel B.
Scary Spice just wasn’t scared. “The big loud noise was quite terrifying, but the actual silver box was quite sparkly and wasn’t very frightening,” she said. Crash may as well have just jumped over a bucket of glitter.
My favorite reaction, however, belonged to former supermodel Heidi Klum, well known for rejecting aspiring fashion designers on “Project Runway” with the catch phrase “You’re Out.”
“I like you and I want you to stay alive,” she said. “I like the little ponytail you have going on your chin and I think you’re cute, but I don’t want to see you blow up. No — I’m sorry!”
Gentle letdown. Like Crash had asked her to the Prom. I’m sure Heidi has the “nice rejection” delivery down pat.
But there’s NO WAY she thinks the rubber band in the beard (a la pro wrestler Lou Albano) is hot. No way.
Personally, I agree with Scary Spice. I intellectually appreciate the danger involved in Crash’s act and am fascinated by the science of how exploding dynamite blasts outward away from his body. However, visually, the explosion reminds me of paper firecrackers. To say it is “underwhelming” is an understatement. I am far more in awe of Crash’s “Steel Wall,” when he barrels into junk cars balanced on their bumpers like dominoes — and his insane Kamikaze Drop, which I have never seen live.
Stunt preferences aside, I applaud Crash for his even-keeled performance in front of millions last night. Hope it leads to more gigs this summer — and perhaps brushes off some of the dust from our documentary.
Check out the “Hell Drivers” trailer now — Crash has some killer one-liners!
(Confession: I actually own TWO Crash Moreau t-shirts, including the stylish WANTED poster variety. You can get your own in the Crash Moreau Gift Shop. You can also order “Hell Drivers: America’s Original Crash Test Dummies,” winner of the coveted Golden Wheel Award, on Amazon!)