I can’t even begin to express how much I admired Ryan—everything about the guy—and how much I will miss being in his presence. He was truly a solid bro, and that’s how he always treated me: like a brother and a friend. He was always so warm and welcoming towards me and everyone else that he met.
As a photographer, I can’t think of a better subject to have documented over the course of a decade. So many great shots and amazing times with Dunn. He was always so excited to see the photos I’d take during his bits. I once gave him a print from the "Toro Totter" and he was so overly appreciative of it. He’d always make a point to excitedly tell me how that picture—amongst others I had given him—was hanging in his place and how much he liked them. Honestly, that always made me feel really good … and I think Dunn knew it so he’d keep on saying it. That’s what I mean—he just had a deep consideration for making us feel good, entertained, and happy.
I’m really going to miss the countless laughs with and from Ryan. Seriously, his comedic timing and delivery was perpetually and impeccably on point. Not to mention the sheer genius of the physical comedy he’d perform with his body. He’d throw himself into anything, any challenge, with 100-percent gusto, commitment, and dedication. Dunn definitely knew when certain actions would suck and hurt ridiculously—and most of them would—but he always accepted that part of it with a collected coolness, dry sarcasm, and a poignant wit that was truly unbeatable. This always impressed me.
I also admired Ryan’s uniquely self-deprecating sense of humor, which was like none other. For shit’s sake, he’s the only guy I’ve ever met that would openly claim to large groups of people, “Got a dick like a roll of dimes. It’s pathetic.” But he would say that with more confidence and self-assurance than I’ve ever seen in a man. There was never any ego, because Ryan was always completely comfortable in making fun of himself in any way possible. I always found this quality in him to be extremely endearing. We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously, and that is something Dunn has showed us.
Throughout the years there have been certain moments I’ve witnessed that thankfully will never escape me. I feel blessed to have these memories and experiences in my head, because whenever I recall them a smile is brought to my face—even if it was something so fucked up, like Dunn and Knoxville rolling the golf cart over that goddamn fiberglass pig.
Periodically during shooting, I’d have these lucid moments of clarity where I’d kind of just look around and realize: Okay, I’m in a hotel room with a group of dudes, Ryan is lying on his back with his pants down, legs in the air, he’s parking a Matchbox car up his ass, and I’m zooming my lens in to get the best shot possible—totally chill. A cleaning woman from the hotel walked into the room at that very moment and I’ll never forget the look of concern and suppressed panic on her face. She immediately bailed and ten minutes later the hotel manager came to the room saying they don’t allow this kind of film production in their establishment. He totally thought we were making gay porn. At this point, Ryan was just about done getting the car to stay up in his ass. A legend was made that day and I feel honored to have been a part of it.
I really wanted to try to keep this short, but there is one story I feel I need to immortalize by putting it in writing because it happened off camera and Dunn and I never stopped talking about it. One night, after shooting in West Chester on the first movie, we were all out at a club in Philly. Dunn and I were in the bathroom, waiting in the urinal line to take a leak, when in struts this thin guy who had a lot of bounce in his step. He looks around the bathroom and loudly says, “Yo, Ty-RONE?” There was a moment of silence before a deep voice from inside the stall replied, “Yeah.” The guy who came in asks, “Yo, you taking a SHIT dog?” Another moment of silence before Tyrone’s deep voice answers, “Yeah.” The guy who came in now shrugs his shoulders, says “Aaiiiight,” and turns around, strutting out of the bathroom. Dunn and I immediately looked at each other in utter amazement and started to die laughing. We told everyone we could that night. Ryan was just so excited that this guy came into the bathroom needing to know if his friend was taking a shit. We ended up quoting that one with laughs all the way through jackass 3D. Thanks, Tyrone.
I really feel like the world has been robbed of a true comedic genius who was just entering his prime. And it sucks so bad that we will miss out on all of the laughs and amazing footage that could have come. My heart and deepest condolences go out to Angie, Bam, April and Phil, the Dunn and Hartwell families, and everyone affected and saddened by this loss.
Ryan, I’ll miss you, pal. Hope you’re having a blast up there. You takin’ a shit dog? Aaiiight.
(All photos by Benzo)