Odd Future’s Jasper and Errol on Doing the Unthinkable in Their New VICELAND ShowJune 11, 2019
There’s a unique kind of joy in watching someone try something for the first time—some combination of glee, pity, and secondhand terror, especially when that something is extremely difficult. In VICELAND’s new show Jasper & Errol’s First Time, which premieres Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. EST, you get to experience that feeling over and over again, as Jasper Dolphin and Errol Chatham—who grew up with Tyler, the Creator, and have been involved with Odd Future since its inception—conquer dozens of bizarre activities of varying degrees of ridiculousness, none of which they have ever before attempted.
What they do ranges from fairly innocuous (tango dancing, yodeling, sushi making, and ventriloquism) to borderline masochistic (bull riding, coal walking, sumo wrestling, and something called “bee bearding”). You’d think watching two people goof around for an entire season of television might get stale, but somehow, it doesn’t. Jasper and Errol are hilarious together. How deeply unprepared they are for each task they attempt—combined with their propensity to scream in fear, rag on each other, let fly an ungodly number of swear words in places where they really, really shouldn’t, and occasionally, bafflingly, perform exceptionally well at things you’d never expect them to—is endlessly watchable.
If First Time feels like a direct descendant of Jackass and Wildboyz, that’s because in a way, it is: The show is executive produced by Jeff Tremaine, who’s known Jasper and Errol for years. Where Steve-O might hurl himself down a set of stairs, Jasper dives headfirst into a barrel full of wine grapes. Where Johnny Knoxville might have a boxing match in a department store, Errol and Jasper have a slap fight in a platonic cuddling class. Where Jackass had Phil, First Time has Jasper’s dad, Dark Shark, who—even after several stints in prison—is deathly afraid of almost every stunt he attempts, which makes for some of the show’s funniest moments.
First Time is different from its predecessors, though, in that it’s not about pure idiocy, nor is it about punishing your body, though it certainly features a little of both. Instead, it’s about the thrill of the new, approaching strange hobbies openly and earnestly, and—refreshingly—about showing two young, Black men having a hell of a good time in spaces where, traditionally, you might not expect to find them.
I talked with Jasper and Errol ahead of First Time’s premiere about the scariest stunts they had to film, their favorite moments on set, and their hope that people like them—a couple of kids from LA who never thought they’d wind up with their own TV show—might watch these episodes, and feel inspired to try something new.
VICE: Can you tell me a little bit about your upbringing in LA? What was special about getting to do things for this show that, growing up, maybe you didn’t think you would ever get to do?
Jasper Dolphin: I’m gonna throw a little picture up here. My pop-pops: gangbanger from LA, OG Crip. My mom: a nice Black lady from LA. You know, a lot of people don’t make it out of LA. People that are really from the hood stay in the hood. For me to make it from my dad being a gangbanger and my mom just being a normal Black lady to doing all this type of shit is pretty crazy. If you had told me when I was younger, “Yeah you’ll be in Australia, and Japan, and riding a bull,” and all this other stuff, I would’ve been like: Get the fuck outta here.
Errol Chatham: My family, they’re from Central America. I’m first-generation American. They’re from Belize, so they were raised in a third-world country. Everything always felt like: Take what you can get. There was only so much my mom could’ve taught me—it was a single-parent home, you know. And now I’m doing things that she could never do for us. It all made me wonder, like, if I was exposed to a lot of this shit growing up, what could I have done? What could I have been professional at? What if I could’ve been a sushi chef? I could’ve been in the fuckin’ circus, on the trapeze. World-class bull rider. I don’t know. But all I got exposed to was basketball and football. That’s fucked up.
Why do you say that?
EC: It’s just so limiting. Why wasn’t there ever a group of people who were like, “Let’s expose these kids to everything in the world.”
JD: My dad is a LA Black man—like, LA Black man. Taking him out and doing stuff that a Black man his age would never do [is great]. Like, his homies, they sit in the hood all day—
EC: They think he’s crazy.
JD: They think hang gliding is the craziest thing in the world. They’re like, “I would never do that, ever, in my life.” For him it’s like, “Wow, I would never have thought. I’ve been to prison a couple times, and now I’m over here at a wine tasting, or hang gliding, or ziplining, doing all these different things.”
EC: He stepped up every time. That shit is crazy, because I know he was terrified.
Yeah, I mean he’s screaming at the top of his lungs the entire time he’s hang gliding.
EC: Every emotion, and scream, and grunt from that show is pure.
JD: From the heart.
EC: One hundred percent. We were working hard.
It seemed like your comedown, from every single one of those terrifying experiences, was just smoking a blunt. Like, immediately.
JD: For sure. Before and after, always. Everything we did we were high [for], pretty much.
I don’t know how you had, like, 10,000 bees crawling all over your face while you were high. That sounds like a nightmare.
JD: That was cool. You just had to stay calm. It was very ticklish, on the face. We also didn’t know if I was allergic or not. So we were just testing the waters.
What was the scariest thing you had to do for First Time?
JD: Bull riding. And then the horse acrobatics. Basically, you do like handstands and stuff on a big-ass horse. So before this show started, I dislocated my ankle and I fractured my leg. My ankle still isn’t fully there. They wanted me to get on this horse, and in my mind I was like, If I fall off this horse the wrong way and hurt my leg, I’m gonna be so sad. So we get there, and they’re showing somebody else do it before we try it, and the lady jumps off the horse and immediately hurts her leg and starts limping. I’m like, “I don’t wanna do this shit!”
EC: That one I felt like I was more myself. I was in my natural habitat. On top of a horse is where I belong, I think.
JD: That horse was big as shit, bruh.
EC: It was.
JD: I don’t trust, like—big animals are kind of sketch. You don’t know what they’re thinking. At any time, that horse can kick.
EC: Nah, nah, nah. I knew exactly what he was thinking. I think the most scared I was, doing a stunt, was trapeze. When I was looking around at everybody who was doing it, I’m like significantly taller. So I’m just like, “What the fuck?”
You both crushed that one. I was impressed.
JD: Honestly—you know who Tom Cruise is?
JD: I did better than Tom Cruise.
EC: Way better than Tom Cruise.
JD: I’m Tom Cruise 2.8. It took Tom Cruise three times [to do the stunt]. He caught it with one hand. Me? First go, both hands. Just saying.
To me, this show feels a little bit like Jackass and Wildboyz. Does it feel like you’re kind of carrying the torch for those shows?
JD: I for sure grew up watching Jackass and Wildboyz, and all the movies. We did make a skit on Loiter Squad called “Blackass”—it was kind of like this show, but [on First Time], we actually go out and learn stuff. The other one was like, “Drink this and throw up.” This one, I’m actually trying new things and not just, like, I’m going to go hurt myself today.
In what ways did you want this show to be different than Jackass and Wildboyz ?
JD: With Wildboyz, it was white people doing white people shit. With us, it’s Black guys doing shit that Black guys don’t do.
EC: I just didn’t want to be put in a box. I want to personally transcend some shit, you know? I feel like us, as people, are already unique. Our sense of humor, how we interact with each other—just having people focus on that aspect, and really try to be a part of it, as opposed to just like, “Watch these guys talk crazy and throw up.”
I like that when you guys meet these people who have pretty bizarre hobbies, you might joke around, but you treat what they do seriously, and earnestly try to learn about it. You’re not mocking them. Why was that so important to you?
EC: We know how it feels, so it’s like, let’s try to not step on any toes. I feel like when we meet these people for the first time, they kind of expect us to be a little rude, or try to be funny, or whatever. So we were very conscious of being like, “Yes, we’re interested in this. We want to do it.” When you’re a part of something and you introduce it to someone else, and they laugh at it, or they make a joke about it—I’d be offended.
What were some of the bigger-picture realizations you had when you were filming this show?
JD: Have confidence. I crushed everything I did out there. Even if someone told me, like, “Oh, this is your first time trying it? You’re not going to be able to do it,” I crushed it. And then everybody was like, “Oh shit, you really did that!” Everybody got so happy. Like, “Oh, look at this chubby Black guy, there’s no way he’s going to be able to stay on a bull for five seconds.” And it happens, and everybody’s like: “Oh my god, I love you!”
EC: There’s a lot of doubt. So much doubt. It’s important to have confidence. Fear is not going to stop you from doing something. Us being afraid was outweighed by us wanting to prove somebody wrong.
JD: So with the trapeze, the guy was like, “Nobody has ever done this first go.” We got there, and they were cool and everything, but once I grabbed that pole and did [it first try], everything changed.
EC: He was like, “I love you!”
JD: It was crazy, because they were literally on the phone like, “There’s no way that they’re going to be able to do this the first time.”
EC: This is verbatim though: “No way. There is no way that they’re going to do this.” Proving someone wrong, and being able to do anything you put your mind to, is the message.
Do you think you might be opening some eyes for folks who grew up similarly to you two? A lot of kids might not get a chance to ride a bull or do trapeze, but they might be into Odd Future, and they might watch this show and say: "You know what? I’m going to try something new."
JD: I hope this motivates people to go do things that they would normally never do. I want a Black kid to wake up after watching this show and be like, “I might want to ride bulls for a living.” Or just, “Hang gliding looks fun. I might want to go hang glide with my homies.” Just getting some people out of the little box they’re in.
EC: You see a different face doing something that you don’t normally see, and it’s like you’re experiencing that with us. You’re kind of living through us, being minorities, in a way. That part of it is crazy to think about.
What do you want people to walk away with after they watch First Time ?
JD: Don’t judge something ‘til you try it. You might think something isn’t cool, or isn’t something that you’d be into, but then you’re out there doing it and you’re like: Wow, I love this shit. Try new things, no matter what it is, because you never know what you might like.
EC: I just want people to be more open-minded. There’s so much you can experience and be a part of. You don’t have to be the greatest at it, but you can still try it and experience it. You don’t have to put someone down for it. That, I think, is really important.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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