Turning on the television for a good laugh is something TruTv’s Impractical Jokers is there for. Especially when the joke is at the expense of some poor pedestrian who happens to stumble upon these “jokers” as they're often referred as.
There is something so satisfying about watching four men prey on unsuspecting strangers and inadvertently making them a part of their shenanigans. It often gets the viewer to scream at the television in order to stop the prank that awaits them. However, it mostly warrants heavy laughter until you have to hold yourself together at the seams.
Most of the attention is appropriated by the elaborate pranks and seeing just how far these four can take them. A lot of the behind the scenes and small details can be overlooked since its formation in 2011.
Whether you’ve been watching the show since its inception or you're just a casual viewer, there are several little tidbits of the show that most people do not know. Most reveal some of the most appealing aspects of the show.
15 They go all the way back to high school
Most people leave their high school personas behind the second they graduate. Way, way behind. Not James Murray, Brian Quinn, Sal Vulcano and Joe Gatto, who took their semi-professional goofball career while attending Monsignor Farrell High School into a hit television series. Catholic high school seems like the perfect breaking ground for a long-lasting path in professional pranks and that is exactly what these four schoolmates started doing.
What began as a harmless need to make others laugh and clowning around during highly inappropriate moments at school was actually the beginning of a profitable career. Murray from the group best explained what is classified as the beginning of their path together. “We became well-practiced in the art of pranking,” Murray said. Who knew that one joke or prank would land you a full-time gig with your best friends in a hit series?
14 The Tenderloins who?
The jump from middling high school goofballs to full-fledged television stars wasn’t immediate. If only life worked that way. That is why in 1999 Murr, Q, Sal and Joe were part of a comedy troupe called The Tenderloins. Later on, in 2007, they entered a comedy competition for an NBC show called It’s Your Show hosted by Carson Daly. The show featured up and coming video producers competing for weekly cash prizes. The group’s entry, “Time Thugs,” managed to win them the top prize of $100,000.
With that money, the four friends were able to invest in their futures.
That future being the pilot of what is now known as Impractical Jokers and the success of that show. The joke was most definitely on them, as told by Murray on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “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 all those shows, the comedian is pranking the public. What if we did it the opposite way. What if the joke is on us? It's an upside-down hidden camera show where we're the butt of our own jokes."
13 Impractical Jokers: the origin story
Still staying true to their name as The Tenderloins, the guys originally pitched the show to be called Mission: Uncomfortable after winning in NBC’s It’s Your Show and investing in the pilot. They went to Spike to start their careers as possible contenders of a new hit reality comedy show.
Unfortunately, Spike didn’t buy into what they were selling so they didn’t pick up the show. To reminisce, however, the guys will show snippets of that pilot into their live shows.
This leads viewers to wonder, why the title change? What prompted the guys to go from the highly catchy title of Mission: Uncomfortable to Impractical Jokers? The truth behind the name change may rest in the past, with that unaired pilot.
12 It’s just as uncomfortable in real life
Every reality show gets under your skin whether or not everything you see is real. Surely some has to be scripted, right? Well not on the Impractical Jokers. Much to the audience’s delight, every single uncomfortable moment is just as genuine as it appears to be.
Those moments where you have to cover your eyes due to the extreme secondhand embarrassment are 100 percent real.
According to the guys, in order to pull off some of their stunts they needed to be as real as possible. That is the only way they can get a genuine laugh from their audience. Imagine having every single one of your most embarrassing moments on camera for the rest of your life? Sounds both harrowing yet entertaining and that was the exact goal for these four guys.
11 The mysterious Q is answered
Although they all attended high school together, Q wasn’t technically one of the original founding fathers of The Tenderloins. Mike Boccio left the group in 2007 and Brian “Q” Quinn joined the group after leaving his job as a firefighter. In fact, he fought fires with the FDNY before taking the comedic leap of faith.
Taking advantage of his former status as a firefighter, much of the pranks involve putting Q in direct line of fire of his former coworkers and specifically making him be the butt of every joke. That is one way of paying homage to your former job. However, Q does donate large portions of his money to his old firehouse as a way of giving back to what helped him get where he is.
10 The cameras stop rolling, but the pranks don’t
It seems like pranking is more than just a job for these friends. It's their passion. It's also their only source of entertainment and distraction. The cameras may have come to a halt outside the parameters of the show, but somehow these four find new ways of getting at each other. Cameras rolling or not.
Much like the show, Murr seems to be the object of their pranks every time.
A recurring theme both on the show and in real life. Their favorite prank involving Murr is to slowly, and in small increments, increase the tip on the receipt whenever Murr is distracted after going to a restaurant. They stealthy keep adding digits every so often just as long as Murr isn’t watching. Testing their limits is an ongoing job for these jokers.
9 Pulling pranks for a good cause
It isn’t all for the sake of a prank for these guys. Sure, they love pulling off some elaborate schemes that makes any of them look like fools, but more often than not, they do them for a good cause. As part of their 100th episode, they set up a competition that would end up benefiting a charity.
They set up a high wire walk on live television in which they challenged each other to walk the farthest. Whoever walked the farthest during the punishment challenge would get $50,000 and give it to the charity of their choice. Some of the charities represented included Make-A-Wish Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, Daniel’s Music Foundation and Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Although Q’s charity received a bulk of the money as the winner, the remaining jokers received $10,000 donations to give to their corresponding charities.
8 The problem with making it big and keeping it incognito
Trying to get a sizable audience is always the goal for any show to stay on air. You want to remain popular and relevant. However, that has become a double-edged sword for these guys. The bigger the show has gotten, the harder it’s become to camouflage themselves within New York in order to pull off their pranks.
What’s even worse is getting recognized by someone who thinks they’re doing a bit in their off time.
Joe shared a story of an older woman who completely lost it when she saw them shop at a retail store. “A little old lady goes 'NO! You're not gonna get at me.' We were just shopping. She was looking for cameras, she was like 'I know who you are, you crazies!' and she walked away from us,” said Joe.
7 Accidentally exposing an affair? Oops
What appears to be their funniest stunt yet, these jokers accidentally shined light on a rather concerning moment. Those who appear on the show must sign a release form agreeing to the footage being shone on the show. It’s standard procedure. Some may ask to have their faces blurred.
However, during a segment, the guys were filming at a local IKEA store and one couple flat out refused to even be shown on the show. This prompted the guys to further investigate why. Turns out he did not want to be filmed because the man wasn’t at IKEA with his wife but rather his mistress. He was there buying her discount Swedish furniture. Awkward. Nothing like turning the channels one lazy Sunday morning and unexpectedly seeing your husband with another woman on a rerun of Impractical Jokers.
6 From the butt of every joke to well-known author
Seems like every one of these guys has a different past from the rest. Q used to be a firefighter and now Murr is also an author. Aside from spending his time as a flourishing comedian, Murr has found the time to write a book. He co-wrote a sci-fi horror called Awakaned which he wrote in 2004.
Murr actually graduated from Georgetown with a degree in English and like put it to good use.
He plans to add two more to his first novel and making it a trilogy. Not only is he a talented writer but he uses Facetime as a means of advertisement. He says that he Facetimes every person who buys at least 10 copies of his book and then reads to them sections of the book. Talk about the personal touch.
5 Branching out and acting out
In order to expand their talented chops, several of the guys have branched out into acting. Their involvement in acting has led them to star in 12 Monkeys both in season 2 and season 3. Murr and Sal were featured in an episode of Bones that did not require either of them to pull down their pants in public. It is also known that Q starred in a movie directed by Adam Green, otherwise known for his indie horror films. The film was later on known as Victor Crowley, which is a clear distinction between Q’s role as a joker on the reality show.
Don’t worry. That does not mean the guys plan on splitting up from their “day jobs” anytime soon. They will still continue to work together and make fun of each other for many years to come. It just so happens to be that they all have separate interests aside from their show.
4 Ever thought of vacationing with the group? Well, now you can!
Have you ever thought of spending your next vacation with all four guys from the Impractical Jokers? Well, now it’s something you can jot down in your agenda of things to do in your next vacation. It could take place on a luxurious cruise ship and with the guys if that sounds like your ideal situation, of course. Imagine the entire set up of the show but set on a boat.
That is basically the way this cruise paradise dream vacation is advertised.
The four-day vacation cruise includes musical guests and top celebrity appearances such as Lisa Lampanelly, Gilbert Gottfried and Michael Ian Black. To some that might seem like an overkill situation and perhaps not at all relaxing but if you are acquainted with the guys and the entire show, it seems like the perfect set up right?
3 Museum of Impractical History aka a dream come true
Who wouldn’t take a pass at the Smithsonian and go straight to the Museum of Impractical History? I guess it depends where your interests lie, but either way it sounds promising. Paying homage to the art of pranking and making fun of your best friends is something that this particular museum took upon themselves.
Rather than waiting for a more well-known museums to create a particular section to honour such a talent, the show took it upon itself to recreate such a concept. Bravest step of all. Sort of like a giving back to the public after four successful years on air. To top it all off, the museum was only open for a few days during Comic Con. Pulled a fast one on the largest group of all, the viewers.
2 Oh the wonder years can’t come soon enough
There’s a recurring theme within the show and that seems to make Murr out to be the laughing stock of every single punishment segment. Whenever Murr loses, and it seems to be quite often, the other three seem to make it a point of having him suffer the most. The bigger the punishment directed at Murr, the bigger the thrill it is for both the viewer and the other three guys.
Fan favorite episode, “The Blunder Years,” seems to be the epitome of that idea.
As part of his challenge, Murr is made to wear a rather revealing item of clothing while being soaked in baby oil. To up the ante, he was supposed to interview his childhood crush, who is none other than Danica McKellar from The Wonder Years who was more than thrilled to participate. One could say Murr suffered an immense blow to his already fragile ego at that point.
1 Who in the world is Larry?
Even now, if you close your eyes and listen closely, you can hear Joe Gatto belt out “Larry!” at the top of his lungs from time to time. Truth is Larry doesn’t exist in terms of characterization. He’s actually a crew member that goes by the name Larry Crisci. The jokers got into the habit of using his name as an inside joke which took a dark turn in 2016.
Larry got tired of being the butt of this particular joke and sued the show’s producer for $500,000 because of it. One can assume that because they keep using the name in the show that all parties have agreed to a stand down and to an agreement that allows to use the name. The lengths to which one go for a single recurring joke. Mystery solved, sort of.