On the day The Dudesons first landed on Finnish TV in 2001, they joined a long line of insane people who do insane things to entertain others. It’s a tradition that goes back to Harry Houdini in the early 1900s, Evel Knievel in the 1970s and those jackasses on “Jackass” in the 1990s. But all the badass tricks in the 20th century were just a warm-up for the 21st. The past 10 years have seen some of the most rip-snorting, death-defying, sphincter-clenching stunts in the history of man. Here are our 10 favorites:
10. Bodybuilder Tom Owen claims to have the world’s strongest abs. After watching this video of seven trucks drive over them, we won’t argue with that. In fact, given the size of those biceps, we won’t argue with him about anything.
9. Danny Way has done some mind-boggling stuff on a skateboard. He dropped in off of the giant guitar in front of Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel. With the help of Rob Dyrdek, he broke the land speed record on a skateboard. But never has he done anything as unforgettable as jumping the Great Wall of China. Zang!
8. Two days after the opening of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, Omar Al Hegelan and Nasser Al Neyadi did what any logical person would do: They jumped off of it. Al Hegelan and Al Neyadi started 2,204 feet in the air, and 90 seconds later they were standing in the desert. Guess no one told them about the elevators.
7. Steve Hudis makes his living as a Hollywood stunt coordinator, but the worlds of film and TV don’t always satisfy his need to defy death. That’s why in January 2000 he decided to jump over 15 motorcycles in a flaming 14-ton school bus. On a related note, we’re pretty sure this is how Satan’s kids get to school.
6. If most of the stunts on this list go right, the performer doesn’t get hurt. It’s when they go wrong that pain is involved. But for Darren “Professor Splash” Taylor, pain is part of the game. In this video, he sets the world shallow water dive record by jumping from 35′ 9″ into 12 inches of water. His prize? A red spot on his stomach that won’t go away for weeks.
5. Skater Bob Burnquist has enormous balls — and his BASE jump into the Grand Canyon is definitive proof. He scores extra points for trying to incorporate a ramp and a rail, even after almost splattering his brains on the side of the Canyon in the first attempt.
4. Intentionally crashing a car makes for a solid stunt. It’s not too impressive, but it gets the adrenaline flowing. Intentionally crashing a car while an upside-down car is strapped to the top? That’s special. And it’s the kind of inventiveness The Dudesons bring to their absurdly dangerous stunts, which one of these days will probably kill them all.
3. Screw jumping down things, Alain Robert likes to go up them. Robert is known around the world for his unauthorized building ascents. He’s climbed buildings in more than a dozen countries and gotten arrested at almost every one. But his climbs aren’t always illegal. Like this one in Abu Dhabi, where Robert climbed a 656-foot building with thousands of spectators watching. Let this serve as inspiration to all of you who never thought you could make a living using your Spidey-senses.
2. Forget Times Square. The best way to celebrate New Year’s Eve is in Las Vegas with Red Bull and motorcycles. Last year, as 2009 was about to turn into 2010, Robbie Maddison launched himself onto the top of a 96-foot replica of the Arc de Triomphe. Then he jumped off, free-falling nearly 50 feet before landing on another ramp. Sounds a lot better than watching the ball drop, doesn’t it?
1. Before Travis Pastrana came along, a double backflip on a motorcycle was thought of like a Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster. Pastrana changed that at the 2006 X Games, where he landed the first-ever double backflip in competition. To this day, it is the only double backflip performed in competition … and officially the most badass stunt performed in the past decade.