The Comedians from ‘Impractical Jokers’ Are Impractically Wonderful

Meet the guys who love being the butt of their own jokes.
November 20, 2018
9 mins read

The stars of “Impractical Jokers,” Joseph “Joe” Gatto, Salvatore “Sal” Vulcano, Brian “Q” Quinn and James “Murr” Murray, met at Monsignor Farrell, an all-boys Catholic high school, in a religion class of all places. They were always funny guys, but on that fateful day, the comedy gods performed pure magic by bringing them together.

Joe, Sal, Q and Murr told jokes and pranked their classmates on a daily basis. “We became well-practiced in the art of pranking,” Murray told Tap Milwaukee. In fact, Joe’s recurring attempts to touch people with his nose without their noticing would eventually make its way onto “Jokers.” Unfortunately, before their comedic brilliance could make its way to TV, the guys lost touch for a while after going off to college.

Before “Impractical Jokers,” Joe, Sal, Q and Murr founded the sketch comedy troupe “The Tenderloins.” It was sometime after this that the idea for “Impractical Jokers” came about. Murr explained, “We were hanging out one night in my apartment playing video games, and we were talking about a hidden camera show, and we had an idea.”

On most shows, the comedian is pulling pranks on unsuspecting individuals, but the guys wondered if they could do it another way. What if the joke was on them? Thus, an “upside-down hidden camera show,” where four best buds are the butt of their own jokes, became the hit TruTV show “Impractical Jokers.” However, what some may not know is that eight months before the show’s debut on Dec. 15, 2011, “Impractical Jokers” was originally called “Mission: Uncomfortable.” Fortunately, the original name didn’t take. Where would the world be today without “Impractical Jokers”?

If you’re just now hearing about “Impractical Jokers” for the first time, but it sounds like something you want to watch, don’t worry. You can stream the episodes of “Impractical Jokers” in any order without feeling like you missed something. However, if you want to start where it all began, Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.

The premise of the show is relatively simple. The hidden camera series follows Joe, Sal, Q and Murr as they take Truth or Dare to next level by removing “truth” an an option. Each episode, a set of predetermined challenges, devised by the guys, are put into motion. Typically, the jokers take turns completing a dare. However, some pranks involve two of them competing against each other, or as a team, in which case if one of them loses the challenge, they both lose.

For instance, in a toy-centric focus group challenge called “Toy Vey!” Sal and Murr competed against Joe and Q. Each joker designed a clearly undesirable, or nonsensical toy for the other, and the goal of the challenge was for the unknowing participants to pick one toy over the other; whichever joker’s toy received the most votes won that challenge. In “Toy Vey!” as in other challenges, the structure of the game demands that the group showcase their creativity and their ability to think on their feet. Indeed, without their extemporaneous wit, “Impractical Jokers” couldn’t exist.  

However, as you might expect, the majority of challenges on “Impractical Jokers” are individual ones, which basically means every joker himself. Some challenges are better than others, but my three absolute favorite challenges — “The Name Game,” “The Magic Mirror” and “Laugh Man Standing” — revolve around the hosts trying to make each other laugh.

The premise of “The Name Game” is pretty straightforward. Unsuspecting people are invited to take part in focus groups, and the guys take turns reading out a list of names (that the three other jokers made up) to the people in the waiting room. The goal of the challenge is not to laugh when reading the names, and the person who laughs the least wins. (Note: Hilariously, Sal usually loses.) Some names the jokers have come up with in the past include “Real Hefty Trout,” “Eyeluvver Butterdogsheds,” “Mother Coconuts” and “Cranjis McBasketBall.”

In “The Magic Mirror,” each joker takes a turn asking people questions while sitting at a table that faces a glass wall that fades in and out. While each guy is asking questions, his buddies do whatever they can outside of the glass wall to get him to laugh. Although “The Magic Mirror” and “The Name Game” have the same premise, both challenges are too good to miss.

In the “Laugh Man Standing” challenge, all four jokers participate at once. Random people are invited to take part in a yet another focus group, and while sitting in the waiting room for their turns, the guys all try to make each other laugh, once again, by doing ridiculous things.

“Impractical Jokers” has become so huge that they’re on their second tour now, and I’ve bought tickets for both of them. Just this past weekend, my brother and I traveled to Albany, New York, to see “The Cranjis McBasketBall World Tour.” The Times Union Center was packed, the energy insane, with fans decked out in “Impractical Jokers” swag. If you are a fan of the show, you should definitely consider going to see Joe, Sal, Q and Murr on tour. If you think they are funny on TV, just wait until you see them live. My brother laughed so hard that I couldn’t even hear him laughing at times; his head was just thrown back, mouth wide open, face beet red, slapping his leg.

There’s so much going on in the world today — some good, some bad — and people can watch a comedy, such as “Impractical Jokers,” as an escape. This is certainly what the show has become for my brother and me. Now that we’re both away at college, we make sure to record “Impractical Jokers” episodes to watch when we’re both home, always making brownies or getting frozen yogurt so that we can indulge in dessert while we unwind. Not to mention that it’s also a great way to spend time together after having being apart for a long period of time.

With all said, you have to watch “Impractical Jokers” to get the full effect. Joe, Sal, Q and Murr must be seen to be believed. If you want to have a belly laugh that makes you have to grab your sides to stop the pain, “Impractical Jokers” is your show. Some critics think the show is nonsense, but who cares? Maybe that’s the point.

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