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Prankster from Hobart to launch MTV show "Too Stupid to Die" this month

Zach Holmes from Hobart stars in MTV's new "Too Stupid to Die."

A stock car soars up a ramp into a trailer and explodes into a giant fireball. A fire hydrant is sprayed into someone's face while a group of friends is chilling out in a living room. A guy jumps off a roof like a wrestler from the top rope, smashing a plywood board in half.

People swing fluorescent lights like baseball bats into the shirtless torso of Zach Holmes from Hobart, each shattering into a million little shards upon impact.

Those are just a few of the extreme stunts in the recently released trailer for Holmes' "Too Stupid to Die," which will premiere at 9 p.m. Aug. 21 on MTV. Much of the eight-episode series was filmed in Northwest Indiana, and much of the cast knew each other from Hobart High School.

"The highly anticipated series, developed with Zach Holmes, the online sensation and daredevil who was banned by YouTube, will feature bizarre pranks, hilarious antics and outrageous stunts," MTV said in a news release. "In the debut episodes, viewers are introduced to rural Indiana where this amateur stunt crew has nothing better to do with their time than take rat traps to the face, dodge golf carts, set off explosives, practice public archery and open a dangerous kissing booth, just for starters. 'Too Stupid To Die' is the story of a backyard group of friends who are making a name for themselves with nothing but blood, sweat and fearlessness."

Holmes made a name for himself as an internet star whose daredevil stunts have earned him a large following on Facebook and Instagram, where he has more than 291,000 followers. The MTV show follows the exploits of Holmes and his friends, who go by nicknames like "The Screamer," "Hell On Wheels," "Most Redneck," "Tattooed Teddy Bear," "Human Trashcan," "Mr. Fearless" and "The Instigator."

"There's like nothing that goes on here at all," Holmes said during the trailer. "That's why I feel we do what we do. So making videos of us doing the craziest, stupidest stuff is how we have fun."

That "crazy, stupid stuff" includes getting hit by cars, sticking one's head into an overhead fan, riding a toy car off the roof of a garage and getting an electric shock at the edge of a cornfield.

Holmes started doing stunts and filming himself at 11.

"I've always had a dream to do big things," he said. "I was always doing skits, videos, stunts and antics, crazy stuff with my friends."

He first reached a large audience with a skateboarding video in which he hit his genitals on a spine ramp and another in which he lit off a bunch of firecrackers he duct-taped to a suicide vest before lighting off. Then he got a chance to make a video with Steve-O from the "Jackass" TV and movie franchise in which they skateboarded into a cactus.

"I was still picking out needles three months later," he said.

"Jackass" was a major influence that Holmes grew up watching.

"I grew up with 'Jackass' and everything in that genre," he said. "They introduced everyone to the genre that includes "Odd Future" and "Viva La Bam." We're another crew in that genre with our own spin on that genre."

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It's a risky business. Holmes once broke a leg, and some of his friends from his crew have broken clavicles and ribs.

"Usually we come out okay, but sometimes we get hurt," he said. 

After getting out of a cast, Holmes and his "Too Stupid to Die" crew filmed the show over a two-month period at sites across Indiana, including in Hobart, Lake Station, Gary, Portage, Indianapolis, Broad Ripple, Cicero and Carmel.

His crew includes many people he went to Hobart High School with in the late 2000s, including Meggan Wentz, Cody Faints and Tommy Anderson. His grandmother Susan Greener, a longtime Hobart resident who issues a warning to viewers to "not be a moron," also appears in every episode.

"She's a maternal figure," he said. "She's always giving her opinion on what we're doing, making sure we're not hurt or encouraging us to try new things that aren't crazy."

Holmes gets a thrill from it.

"It's fun to me," he said. "There's a lot of fun in doing dangerous stuff. Sometimes you have to psych yourself up so you're mentally prepared. There's a level of commitment, especially in some of my more viral videos. Before I jumped on the skateboard on the spine ramp I had to yell at myself to do it. But at the end, all your friends are cheering."

His stunts are often so dangerous that they get banned by YouTube, or placed under age restriction.

"It's a cool point that most of my videos are too crazy for YouTube," he said. "There have been many times we didn't do stunts because they told us that's too crazy and you'll probably die."

Despite the fame that comes with being on national television, Holmes said he and his friends remain "normal people living out our dreams."

"It's a dream come true," he said. "I hoped and wished to be at this point, and it's surreal."

Warning: Viewer discretion advised. 

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.