The Impractical Jokers… Jokers Wild
I normally steer clear of comedy. it’s not that I don’t love to laugh, Especially since laughter is medically proven to be healthy. it’s just that I seldom find comedians that strike me as funny.
That is, until I encountered The Tenderloins, aka The Impractical Jokers. This super-hilarious comedy troupe comprises Brian “Q” Quinn, James “Murr” Murray, Sal Vulcano and Joe Gatto, all hailing from Staten Island and having grown up together as best friends. Their brand of comedy is uproarious, uncontrollable and extremely addicting. I find myself laughing out loud, at the top of my lungs, without a chance of containing my outbursts, each and every time I see them, without exception. This is how it works. The Jokers set themselves up in a regular environment, either as a store salesman, a grocery shopper, a gym trainer or just simply outdoors, for example, each taking turns playing a role, while the others remain out of sight attached to a secret microphone and dare the one playing the role to perform or say the most ridiculous, outlandish things imaginable to mankind – similar to truth or dare. If the one playing the role refuses, he loses, and is punished in the most embarrassing way possible.
The Jokers are about to embark on a spin-off series debuting on September 25 at 10 p.m. on TruTv titled “JOKERS WILD”. Fortunately, “Impractical Jokers” (also on TruTv) will still be aired as it was already renewed for a fourth season. I was amazingly lucky to have been able to speak with Brian “Q” Quinn during the Tenderloins tour (as they travel in a yellow, wrapped bus) from state to state.
How did you all become friends, and who became friends with whom first?
We became friends in 1990 at Monsignor Farrell High School on Staten Island, which is an all-boys Catholic high school, which explains a lot. I’m guessing it was Murr and I who met first. But it was freshman year, so we all just met then, but I remember meeting Murray pretty early on.
Did you get in trouble back then?
We didn’t. We were up to like hijinks. It wasn’t anything like horrible. School is different now, but teachers back then were like retired cops and stuff like that, so they had a healthy respect for like “spring fever” and stuff that occurs when you take 300 guys and throw them under one roof. Like they looked the other way when we did stupid things, but there was a lot of fun in high school.
I bet. So whose idea was it to form The Tenderloins?
Probally again Murray, I would say. I wasn’t involved at that point. I like writing more than performing, and back then, way back then, they were doing live improv shows that I would go see and watch, but I really didn’t buy into that aspect of it until we started doing video. So I’m gonna guess Murray, because he went to Gerogetown, and he ran the improv classes there.
So you like writing better? You’re the smarter one?
Yeah, oh, definitely. I don’t see how anybody could doubt that.
So whose brilliant idea was it to finally include you in the troupe?
Oh, well, I was just friends with them. Like I said, I would go to their shows and everything and hang out. When they would rehearse I would hang out with them, but when the option came up to do these filmed Internet sketches, that kind of gave us the boost we needed. That was something I was really interested in, so it was just a natural time for me to just slide in and start showing them some ideas I had. They loved it, and we just started working. It was all very natural.
You’re about to launch your new show on September 25 at 10 p.m. on TruTv. What can the fans expect from “Jokers Wild”?
It is actually kind of going back to our roots. We get to shoot the type of sketches we were known for on the Internet before “Impractical Jokers.” Tru was like, we’ll give it a shot and see how you guys do. So it’s a little bit of hanging out with us. There’s a studio part where we’re just hanging out in front of an audience and answering questions and what not, and then there’s the filed sketches, which is really weird at points.
You see us all getting shot in one. It’s great.
Who gets shot first?
Me. I get shot first, and for no good reason I might add. It’s pretty good, and you also get to see Joe and Sal make out. It’s amazing. It’s gonna be fun.
If you could trade places with any one of the jokers, who would you choose?
Oh, boy. Can’t I just stay me?
You could, but not for this question.
If I had to, I’ll say Sal, because his life is most similar to mine. We both live on Staten Island, we haven’t upgraded our living quarters at all or our cars or anything. We’re just kinda living the same lives that we did before, whereas Joe lives in Manhattan and got married and Murray is living in Manhattan now too. I’ll take Sal because it would just be easier.
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you while filming either show?
We did this thing in IKEA. A lot of times when we shoot we have to get people to sign to be on the TV show, and if they don’t sign sometimes you’ll see a blurred face or we try not to use the footage, because we want you to see the reaction of the people [we are] interacting with. And when we did this bit in IKEA, I don’t remember what I was doing, [but] this couple, this guy and this girl, were just giving like perfect reactions. They were kind of buying into it, but not. They were kind of annoyed, and everything worked out great. Then when we asked them to sign, he was like, uhh, I would love to, but this isn’t my wife, you caught us in an affair, and I would appreciate if you would not use the footage. I was like, “Oh, you got it, buddy,” so that was pretty amazing.
That is so funny.
Not to the wife I guess, but to everybody else it’s hysterical.
People are really starting to know who you are. Is it getting difficult not to be recognized when you film, and is that perhaps what inspired “Jokers Wild”?
It’s not so bad.
But like in a year or so everybody in the entire world will know you.
Oh, jeez, I don’t know about that. That’s a tall order. But we shoot in Manhattan a lot, and half of Manhattan doesn’t even have TruTV, and then there [are] tourists. We can’t shoot on Staten Island anymore, and Jersey’s getting hard, and Long Island is impossible, but Manhattan is still pretty secure for us. We’re doing alright. We get people who try to pretend they don’t know us so they can get on the show, but we’ve gotten pretty good at determining who’s that and who’s not.
So was that one of the reasons for doing “Jokers Wild”?
No, we just really wanted to do sketch comedy, and Tru was supportive of that.
Whose idea was “Jokers Wild,” you or Tru?
Tru had proposed, you know how there’s “Talking Dead” after “Walking Dead”? They came to us and asked how’d you guys like to do this show. We’ll call it “After Party,” and you guys can hang out and discuss the episode and give the viewers of the show a little bit more. We were like, “Hey, look, why don’t you give us the same budget … you were gonna give us for that, and we’ll give you something more, more of what we want to do,” and Tru supported that 100% once we started rolling. It was great.
I bet it will be so funny.
It is. The first episode that airs is insane. I’m excited about it.
Who do you like to punish the most?
Well, Sal! Because it’s just so easy. I don’t even have to think. Joe is hard, because he’s Joe. You just can’t throw Joe in any situation, because he can handle anything. You have to think of two or three twists, like when we had him recently dress as a woman. We had a makeup artist, Emily, and we had a drag queen come in and help out. I mean, they did him up so he looked like the ugliest woman who had ever walked the earth, and we told him that he had to do a fashion show. Then, this is the thing with Joe, he could handle a fashion show as a model, so when he walked out of the curtain, he was actually a tech in a room full of businessmen dressed as a woman, and that’s how you have to handle Joe, and that’s just like elaborate man.
By the way, I have a drag bar, a night, if you ever want to use it.
It’s on Long Island.
When I go to Key West, I mean there’s drag shows every few feet. We went to this one at maybe the Blue Parrot or something, so we went in there to see a drag show, me and my girl, and it was unbelievable. I felt like royalty. They all were like, “We love the show, we watch the show!” We ended up hanging out until 4 in the morning with them. We went back the second night and there were even more. When we came back we were wondering if we had a good drag queen demographic here. So we went to a show in Manhattan, and sure enough… It was awesome.
Who’s your favorite comedian?
Living, dead, current?
Doug Stanhope’s pretty amazing. I mean, Richard Pryor for me was always the one growing up. I’m a child of the ‘80s and ‘90s, so there’s just so many great ones. Bill Burr is killing it right now. Do you know Bill Burr?
He’s probably right now just the top-notch comedian right now. He’s amazing. Doug Stanhope is more like an underground comic. His material is a little bit more darker. Amy Schumer is unbelievable. Amy Schumer is so funny that I don’t even know what to do with her.
How is your life different than you imagined it growing up?
The TV show’s a swerve I didn’t see coming. I was with the fire department in NYC, and that’s just what I thought I would do until I retired, and then the TV show came up. I mean, I still love Staten Island, and I’m not leaving any time soon, so everything seems pretty normal except the TV show’s weird sometimes. But I love my family. They are all still around, so I’m happy.
So here’s some non-industry questions for you. You’re standing in front of a window, naked, holding up a sign. What does the sign say?
“Look away,” “Brother, could you spare some pants?” One of those two.
You’re a superhero. What are your powers?
Young me would have always wanted invisibility, but the Internet has really made the need for that. Uhh, you can see anything anywhere now, so probably I wouldn’t mind flying.
Now aren’t you going to appear in some comic book show?
Yeah, “Comic Book Men” on AMC. They’re entering their fourth season, and what it is, it’s like a reality show set in a comic book store, but it’s based on a weekly podcast that I do called “Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave!” We’ve been doing it coming on five years now, and AMC wanted to do a reality show set in a comic book store. Kevin Smith was like, “I have a comic book store and I have these guys in place already,” so he wanted to do a podcast, but my contract with Tru and my schedule… I was like, I can’t just do it, so it’s kind of like my show, but not. So finally this season they were like, “Let’s get you on it.” So I believe the premiere episode is October 12.
Pick two celebrities you would want to be your parents.
I wanna go rich. Elvis would be awesome. I’ll take Elvis and … my mind just goes to Raquel Welch. But you can’t have Raquel Welch as a mom, that’s absurd. Amy Schumer. I’d like to be the son of Elvis and Amy Schumer.
You’re a new addition to a crayon box. What color are you?
What’s your favorite color?
What celebrity would you most like to go to bed with?
Amy Schumer and Elvis. 1980s Samantha Fox.
The story of your life just hit the headlines. What’s it titled?
“Look away” or “Do you have a pair of pants?” Umm, “Mistakes Were Made: The Brian Quinn Story.” I would say that.
Love that. What’s the best thing to you before sliced bread?
Air conditioning. I simply could not exist without air conditioning. You know how people back in the day used to only live until they were 30? To me it has nothing to do with penicillin and everything to do with air conditioning. You could say to me on one hand here’s a cure for homelessness and on the other hand air conditioning, and I would be like, I’m sorry homeless people. So there you go.
Other than the new show “Jokers Wild,” what would you want to promote for yourself?
We do live shows, which I guess you guys would be putting in there. We have Jokers Wild, Impractical Jokers and The Tenderloins Comedy Troupe doing live shows. We’re leaving on tour tomorrow, going cross country. I mean, I have the podcasts. I love, love, love them. I really feel like my future is going to be in writing comic books and podcasting.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would really like to be doing either a radio show or podcast or just writing and living in the Keys.