By: Allison Ebner
If you haven't seen the show for yourself (yet), you've likely
still heard mumblings about Impractical Jokers,
a comedy show featuring four real-life best friends from Staten
Island - Sal Vulcano, James "Murr" Murray, Brian
"Q" Quinn and Joe Gatto - who dare one
another to do the most outrageous things they can think up.
It's an undeniably funny show (and if you'd like to hear my
continued ravings on the series, check out my full review
that is already becoming a favorite to many.
And as if December 15th wasn't exciting enough, seeing as
it was the premiere day for Impractical Jokers,
the day got even better when I began the morning speaking
with Sal and James, two of the Jokers. With
a call that began with Sal warning, "I'm even funnier
in the 9:00 hour," it was definitely going to be a good
day and a good chat.
So if you're looking to learn more about the best friends,
the show, the lengths people will go to in order to defend
their eggrolls (you'll understand once you read through this
interview) or just to find out what sort of crazy things these
guys come up with off the top of their heads, read below to
be entertained and informed by two of the funniest people
who are now, thankfully and finally, on TV!
Impractical Jokers airs Thursdays
at 10 PM on truTV.
Learn more about the show at their official
How are you guys feeling right now [on premiere day],
having everything come together as it has for the show?
James: It's - it's incredible. We came up with the
idea for the TV show in my living room, uh, almost two years
ago, right Sal?
Sal: Seems like it, yeah.
James: Yeah, a year and a half, two years ago. And
we've been filming the first season of the show over the past
year, 'cause it's 16 episodes, so it takes us a while to film.
And it's just been an incredible, incredible journey, but
also I can't believe that today is finally... we get to see
it launched on TV - it's just amazing.
Sal: Seems a bit surreal, right? The day has finally
come? It's like Christmas times ten.
James: It really is.
Part of what makes the show so enjoyable and magnetic
is that you can tell you're really friends. Since high school,
Sal: Yup, we all met freshman year of high school
and been best friends ever since.
So, you know, what's your origin story? Was it comedy
gold from the get go?
Sal: I'll be the first to say, it's taken James many,
many, many, many years and we're still working on him till
this day. [laughs]
James: I'll be the second to say, it's taken me many,
many, many years.
No, you know, I remember since high school, the only goal
in our lives was to make each other laugh. I mean, that's
been the goal since day one in freshman year religion class...
screw with each other, make each other laugh, you know. And
then after college, we started doing comedy together because
we just wanted to keep making each other laugh. So we've been
working on it a long, long time, but it finally all just came
Actually, James, in high school I don't think you were
really known as any type of class clown. I mean, I think Joe
and I were really known as class clowns and you were more
known for your... I mean, academics, right? [laughs]
James was the salutatorian of our graduating high school class,
so James failed because he came in second.
James: But, I only failed once, as opposed to Sal
who failed 342 times. [laughs] Yeah, I guess Joe and
Sal were more of the class clowns, but Brian and I did comedy
- improv - in high school -
Sal: Wait, wait, wait, wait. You guys did musicals.
James: We did musicals.
Sal: Which was a comedy to me.
James: Q and I were the stars in West Side Story...
and Bye Bye Birdie... [laughs] Those tapes will never
see the light of day by the way.
Sal: I've been sitting on those tapes, buddy. I got
a surprise for ya.
James: Wait, how do you have those - why do you have
Sal: This has been a plan for 20 years. [laughs]
You've been doing dares like these for years, so do they
still seem outrageous to you? You know, things like Joe's
nose-ing, is it just as funny for you guys as the first time
he did it?
James: Yeah. [laughs] I mean, it's funny because
all the things that we normally do, which is, you know, screw
with each other and dare each other to do these crazy things
in public, it's just amplified now. It's higher stakes.
There's a million people watching, we know there are cameras
on us and it's in bigger settings too. So, Joe dropping his
nose on people in Costco or Q freezing while giving the customer
his money back in White Castle... it's just bigger and bigger
and more terrifying to do.
It's still funny. I mean Joe's been nose-ing people for 20
years. But we've always done it secretly, so like we'll be
riding on the subway together and he'll start dropping his
nose on passengers on the subway without them realizing it
Sal: Yeah, to this point, the way we do it, no one
really ever knew that they were getting nosed. Now it's kind
of having its own unveiling. [laughs] It's very funny.
James: [laughs] Joe's nose is having its day.
do guys have your own trademark moves or signature styles,
James & Sal: Uh, I think...
Sal: You take it.
James: No, you go ahead.
Sal: No, Murray, you take it, Murray.
James: I think we all have our particular things that
we do. [laughs] Joe is really good with - Joe makes
us laugh by doing outrageous physical things. He moves funny.
His body is funny to look at.
Sal: That's actually pretty accurate, yeah. [laughs]
James: Let's see, Sal's trademark - Sal is the most
sensitive out of the four of us to public embarrassment and
I think you can tell that in the show. He's embarrassed and
mortified so easily [laughs] and he wears that embarrassment
on his face much more so than any of us do, so for me what
I love most - his signature quality is when he cringes and
you can tell he's pained by what he has to do.
Q's signature, I guess, is that Q doesn't give a damn about
anything, you know? [laughs] His move is: what's the
path of least resistance? You know, how can I get through
this challenge as quickly and easily as possible, even if
I have to cheat or fake or - or no matter what I have to do,
I just want out of this. So he'll go out and just say and
do anything. He doesn't care.
And I don't know, Sal, how would you describe what my signature
Sal: You did such a good job on those three descriptions.
I'd say James, a combination of - you have a moral compass
that drops in and out...
Sal: You know, most of the time, James, I feel like
you can do things because you don't really see an issue with
what we're doing. [laughs] I also think that you have
the oddest personality of us, so...
Sal: I think your approach to a lot of the stuff we
do is usually a little different, too.
James: Yeah, I think I'm a thinker. You know, I think
through strategy and things. And, yes, I agree, I do lack
what other people call morals or ethics. [laughs] But
it flares up at odd points. I don't know why certain things
trigger my morality, but they do. [laughs]
Just from the pilot, we can see that there could be certain
weak spots for each of you based on what you were and were
not willing to do and say. Do you end up preying on those
aspects of one another? You know, not sabotage, but you know
what's going to challenge each other?
Sal: I would actually specifically use the word sabotage.
James: Yeah, that is exactly what we do for every
challenge. [laughs] The three of us who are in the
control room telling the other guy what to say or do are strategizing
- we know each other so well, it's not even actually something
we plan on, it's just we know each other so well it's second
nature to us to dare Sal to do something we know is going
to freak him out because we know all his quirks, all his eccentricities,
everything that drives him crazy.
We know it just from being best friends for 20 years, so
it's just second nature that we would, of course, dare our
best friend to do something that he's going to hate to do.
It's definitely priceless to watch the reaction of all
four of you guys when you either hear what you have to do
or when you watch what the other one is doing, but what is
also so funny is to watch the people on the end of these dares
get to watch you make fools of yourselves. Do you tell them
afterwards what's going on?
James: Yeah, after we do something crazy to a person,
we'll usually tell them and 99% of the time, they crack up
laughing because they don't understand what happened. They
know that we made a fool of ourselves, [laughs] because
the show is all about us being fools and embarrassing ourselves
without us embarrassing the public in any way...
Sal: That happens, too, but really, really it's about
us throwing each other under the bus.
James: So I'd say 99% of the time, they crack up laughing
when they realize they were just on a TV show and they find
out what we had to do because we were told we had to do it.
Sal: And the other 1% we can't talk about.
Do they not make the show?
James: Some of them make the show. [laughs]
Sal: The other 1%, as far as they're concerned, we're
in the witness protection program right now. [laughs] We
don't want them to find us.
Can you tease us about any more of the challenges from
the season? Any particular moments that stand out for you?
James: Yeah, you know, the challenge that we were
just working on last night - we went to one of these all-you-can-eat
buffets, you know people pay a fixed amount and they go in
and they shove their faces full of food, and the challenge
is very simple: we had to go up to people at the buffet line
and take food off their plate.
Very simple, it's a very simple idea, but it was terrifying
- terrifying! People got, I think that's probably the craziest
people got, right Sal? People were so protective over their
food, even though it's a buffet - there's tons more of it
for free in front of you. [laughs] It makes no sense.
Sal: There's something about once the food hits your
plate, there's an assumed ownership, I guess, then there's
a violation of space. And that's the kind of thing we really
try and focus on in all those challenges - those little moments,
those little social moments that are relatable to everyone
everyday that people might be at a buffet sometimes and maybe
it crosses their mind that "I wonder what would happen
if I dared to take an eggroll off this guy's plate?"
But you never do it and so the show is less like big, big
stunts or anything like that and way more of social interaction
and just exploring that kind of dynamic.
James: Yeah. [laughs] It is really funny how
protective people can get of a drumstick. [laughs]
Sal: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
James: There's a tray of a thousand more drumsticks
in front of you, but this one's on your plate, so it's like
- it's like they're defending their child. [laughs]
Sal: Yeah, to say what I said and simplify it a little
bit more, it's also about taking someone's god damn eggroll.
Well, the challenges do serve as competition. So from
the challenges in the first season, has their emerged a clear
James: That's a good question. I think Sal has lost
the - well, I don't want to give anything away, do I? But
I think one of us, who may be Sal, probably lost the most
challenges, don't you think? I don't know!
Sal: You know, it seems like it. It seems like maybe,
but you never know. I didn't really do a full tally, but -
we've all lost, definitely.
James: We've all spectacularly lost, don't worry.
And have you found the punishment challenges at the end
of the show to be truly just mortifying and horrible?
James: They're the worst.
Sal: You know, they are and they're also amazing when
you're watching. You know, when we do get punished, it's like
the most fun day when I'm not punished and I get to watch
one of them get punished. [laughs] Because basically
we just show up all day - I wake up, get out of bed knowing
that I have nothing to do today that's going to get me killed
or embarrassed and I get to watch James suffer all day and
it's like the most wonderful feeling. I'm sorry I feel that
way, but you know how it goes.
James: [laughs] I feel the exact same way!
But then on the days you are getting punished, you're stomach's
in knots -
Sal: It's the worst, the worst, because you know that
the whole day is just going to be just you getting pounded,
you know? [laughs]
James: And another thing is that we don't know the
punishments before we go into it, so the guy getting punished
shows up on set not knowing what he's going to have to do
- which is terrifying, because you know these guys know me
so well and I know them so well that I know they're going
to plan something that's insane, like no one in their right
mind would ever want to do.
Sal: The worst feeling is not knowing. You wake up
with a knot in your stomach. [laughs]
So it's a really bad day for the loser and just a fantastic
day for the other three.
James: That's the worst thing.
Sal: Yeah, exactly. I usually wake up with a knot
in my stomach and I'll turn to the few girls laying in bed
next to me and I'll be like, "Oh, this is going to be
a rough one." [laughs]
when you guys are just hanging out, is it always like this?
You know, is this series essentially an average day for you
guys, just now with the addition of cameras?
James: Yeah. [laughs] I would say so. Every
time we get together and hang out, I mean we work together
all the time, but when we hang out [laughs] it's just
utter chaos and fun, right?
Sal: Yeah. It really is. You know, we say that and
I wonder if the people reading really believe that, but it
is so true. I mean, we do hang out all the time and we are
[laughs] always like this, all the time.
Sal: It's just what we do. We just - we always try
to get each other, we always try to make each other laugh
and I mean, that's why when the show came to us something
just clicked because the format of the show just allowed us
to just be very natural in what we always do and we're hoping
that translates to everyone because we had some much fun doing
it. It's like a magical formula for us.
And this isn't your first foray into the world of TV.
Do you think that natural aspect is what pushed Impractical
Jokers to that extra level?
James: I think so. I think that's exactly right, that's
the exact magic formula that made this one different. I mean,
we knew - when we started filming we were like, "we're
having so much fun on set performing and making each other
laugh, we're having so much fun" and it's so natural
to what we do as best friends that it just felt completely
And truTV has, to their credit, been amazing at supporting
us and giving us an amazing amount of freedom to go out there
and - we have no script, there's no lines that we're reading
off of; it's just us going out there and making each other
laugh and they've been amazing at giving us that freedom and
liberty to go out and have fun and I think it really translates.
We finally stumbled upon the right format for the show and
the right network to do it with.
Since there is no script, does it always turn out? You
know, do you always get some really great reactions or actions
to do or to some of them end up getting pushed aside and scrapped?
Sal: I think it's safe to say that it's basically
a law of averages. I mean, we think of hundreds of ideas and
sometimes the simplest ideas that we think "eh, we'll
see how this goes," they end up being amazing and sometimes
the ideas that we think "oh, this is going to be the
best thing ever," sometimes it could be the opposite,
So it's really a mixed bag and we don't know what to expect
when we go out there, you know, but for the most part, I'd
say, right James, most of the stuff works because it's just
- once you get out there and start doing your thing people
are just usually taken back, right?
James: Yeah, yeah, I would say so. But I think you're
completely right, Sal. Some of the things that are the simplest
ideas, like leaning over and taking somebody's drumstick,
ends up being hysterical and praiseworthy. So we continue
to get surprised by what works [laughs] and what doesn't
work on set.
And it is the holiday season right now, so are there any
classic pranks or traditions you guys rely on this time of
Sal: [laughs] I, uh...
Sal: [laughs] I, um...
Sal: Alright, this is going to sound mean...
James: [laughs] I don't know if you should
James: I don't know. [laughs] I know exactly
what you're going to say. I don't think you should say it!
Sal: Really? Okay.
James: We... we... [laughs] I don't know, what
do we like to do at Christmastime?
Sal: Every morning I get up and I slap my grandmother
in the face.
Sal: Is that what you were thinking I was going to
James: Yes. [laughs] It's a great prank. She
loves it, she laughs every morning.
Sal: [laughs] The thing is I'm dressed as Santa
when I do it, you know, so she still doesn't know it's me.
James: Gosh, I don't know. Well, I will tell you,
the holidays in New York are really crowded. Everybody comes
to New York for Christmas and New Year's and the more crowded
the place is -
Sal: The more opportunity.
James: The more opportunities. Before we had a TV
show we filmed a video of Joe putting his nose on people in
Times Square during Christmastime 'cause there's a billion
people in Times Square [laughs] and they're all festive
and oblivious and it perfect for what we do. [laughs]
Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today. It's
been a real pleasure. Do you have a final message for your
fans and the fans that are to come when they watch the show?
Sal: Yes, if you support us and DVR the show and spread
the word, I will sleep with you.
Sal: That's as frank as I can get.
James: I think Sal speaks for both of us.
Sal: [laughs] No, honestly, I mean, really
a big heartfelt and so sincere thank you to the people that
have come to see us since we started our comedy troupe twelve
years ago when we were doing it in a room full of ten people
and welcome to, hopefully - fingers crossed, the new fans
that we make now. So, thank you.
A big thank you again to Sal and James for the chat!
But I will say it now, my new goal is to one day get them
to fess up to whatever Christmas tradition they were laughing
so ominously about. Stay tuned... it may not be until Impractical
Jokers is well into its fifth season... but, oh, it'll happen!