My love for truTV's Impractical Jokers
is no secret. Whenever the topic of TV comes up or even when
there's just a lull in conversation, I always ask, "Have
you seen Impractical Jokers?" It's so good and
so outrageously (and consistently) funny, you just want to
keep talking about it. I mean, who doesn't want to watch four
best friends dare each other to do some of the wackiest and
most outrageous things all in the name of embarrassing themselves?
Legions of fans have become enamored with the show and the
four best friends, Sal, Q, Murr and Joe,
and after the show went on a break in February, they've been
left to watch and re-watch the first episodes until they can
recite them from memory and work them into everyday life.
But the time has finally come for some brand new episodes
with hysterical challenges and unforgettable punishments.
Yes, you better believe it, the Impractical Jokers
To get the scoop on the second half of this season and the
show's huge surge of success and popularity, I had the opportunity
to catch up with Joe Gatto, one of the jokers himself,
and let me tell you, in some strange way, I felt like I was
watching an all-new episode just by being on the phone with
him. He's as genuine, down-to-earth and 100% as hysterical
as he is on TV and his excitement over the show and gratitude
toward the fans makes him even more endearing than us fans
would already have found him.
Joe has been very active on Facebook
in the wake of the show's debut and knows just how much the
fans have been spreading the word and the love for the show.
"It is absolutely, absolutely insane how people are really
just taking to the show and really love us as a group and
have their favorites," he started.
"It seems like they don't root against any of us, but
they definitely root for one person more than the others,
you know what I mean? They're not looking for anybody to fail,
but they're happy when one person doesn't." Joe laughed.
Fess up, my fellow Impractical Jokers fans, you know he's
right! We're all on someone's team... even if it happens to
change from episode to episode.
the four friends certainly weren't expecting the storm of
support they rallied. And Joe definitely wasn't expecting
things like "Larry!" and "RayRay"
to catch on. "I can't believe that a lot of the things
you just think in the moment just become such a thing. Like,
I get 'Larry!' yelled at me so much and it's so great to see
people yelling and taking to the show."
"My favorite stories are when people share with me how
they've used what we've done on the show," he continued,
"like I get numerous stories on my Facebook and Twitter
about people telling me how they used Larry to their advantage
to cut in line or one girl told me about how she couldn't
find her mother when they were in a Walmart, so she was calling
her name and her mother didn't answer and then she yelled
'Larry!' and her mother yelled 'yeah!'" He laughed, joking,
"I'm offering a service is what I'm really trying to
But before this service of his, he was in a very different
industry. That bio for him on the Impractical
Jokers website is not a joke. He was, in fact, a personal
shopper in a baby store for many years. "I worked my
way up to a training program manager for a national baby retailer
called Giggle, a chain that went across from here to San Francisco.
I was a baby product expert which is very bizarre for a guy
who doesn't have any kids or isn't even married," he
laughed as he explained his job.
"It was very weird. And Sal and James and Q always thought
it was really weird how much I knew about baby products and
that was sort of like a device I used to make them laugh.
I still do to this day! When we're filming, if a woman walks
by with a certain type of stroller, I start talking about
the features. The woman is probably like, 'why does this guy
know so much about this stroller?'" he laughed. "Yeah,
we always get a big kick out of that. And then Sal, he tells
me I don't realize how creepy it comes across. I guess that
has helped me to load my comedic arsenal a little bit with
baby product knowledge," he laughed.
Maybe Sal thinks it's creepy, but I'd chalk it up to that
Joe charm we've all come to know and love. Another part of
that charm is that he is certainly the most fearless of the
jokers, which he admits has always been the case.
"You know, it's funny, it translates to fearlessness
on camera, but it's really [that] I've always had a gift to
judge what I could get away with from people," he laughed.
"I know what people's limits would be for when I'm messing
with them. And I do it in a way that people don't really think
I'm messing with them, so I get away with a lot. I think that's
what it comes down to."
"And, I mean, this show definitely plays to my strengths
because for years I've been doing all this stuff to make Sal
cringe," he explained. "He's one of my favorite
people in the world to make laugh. I love his laugh. I love
making him come to tears and [he's] a great audience. I'll
just always turn and see him shaking his head in disapproval."
And lucky for Joe, this fearlessness seems to help him in
the show, too, because it makes it much harder for Sal, Murray
and Q to sabotage him. "They're having trouble! I think
that's going to carry through for when we come back,"
he revealed. "They try to get me to do some stuff and
they get mad at themselves that they can't get me, which is
more enjoyable for me and makes me more fearless."
But that doesn't mean there isn't a line. "There's definitely
a line," he assured. "I don't like to be a jerk
to people. I'm definitely a people person. I don't like to
make people feel bad, so I guess that would be my line."
"I always say I don't want to come across as an a-hole.
I was raised by my lovely Italian mother who in the back of
my head, if I hear her say, 'Mm, I wouldn't do that,' that's
probably my limit," he laughed as he continued on. "The
perfect example for me is when we did the handwriting analysis
and they told me to say to that lovely girl, 'I can tell by
your signature that you are a hot girl trapped in an average
woman's body.' I mean, that is a perfect example of something
that was just like, 'no, I'm not going to do that.'"
That's why we love him so much! He's so good at making people
laugh and making the other guys squirm, but he never takes
it too far. So, we'd like to thank Mrs. Gatto for being the
voice in his head, which is just another reason we imagine
she's proud of her son. "My mother is a peacock, she's
crazy right now. Every time 10:31 rolls around on a Thursday
night, my phone will ring and she'll always say the same thing,
'BEST EPISODE YET!'" Joe laughed, tagging on, "it's
good to finally make my mom proud."
Now we can only imagine what his mom is thinking when they
go into those punishment rounds, though. When the show premiered
in December, I had the chance to chat with Sal and Murray
where they explained that the punishment days are the absolute
best days for the non-losers and the absolute worst for the
winner. But Joe has a little bit of a different take on it.
"You know, I have a little bit more fun with it, I think,
than them, because I'm going into it like, 'okay, they're
going to get me; how can I get them while they're getting
me?'" he explained his tactics. "There have unfortunately
been a couple of times, coming up, when they do get me a couple
times in good ways. I was proud of them a little bit,"
he laughed and admitted, "These next rounds of punishments
I definitely dealt it as much as I took it, so I'm excited
for everyone to see what we came up with."
And he assures us that the punishments the rest of the season
are going to be unforgettable. "There's a lot more of
what the fans have come to love, when we really get to throw
each other under the bus. We think of some really funny ways
to throw each other under the bus and we do them in some pretty
big ways with a lot of people watching, which is good."
He went on to explain, "The punishments can be great
in two ways. They could be great just because there's a big
crowd that you have to do it in front of, like Sal when he
had to sing in the baseball stadium, or they're great, too,
when there's that one-on-one interaction and these next punishments
have a good mix of that."
And believe it or not, it won't be Sal losing every week!
"There's a good mix of who loses, which is nice."
Joe laughed. "We gave [Sal] a little break."
But when I asked him about the day-to-day life of their friendship,
it was pretty quickly revealed that Sal doesn't get too much
a break in real life hangouts either. "We really do just
like to messing with each other and making each other laugh.
It is often like this," Joe acknowledged.
"I have to tell you this story. Last night, me, Murr
and Sal were hanging out and Sal decided to drive me and Murray
home because we were uptown and Murray and I live in downtown
Manhattan," Joe was already laughing at what was to come.
"So, Sal decides to be nice and drive us home and we
talk him into driving us to our apartment, but you have to
go up some like side streets which are all one-ways. So, we're
pretty close to our apartment, we could walk home, and Sal's
way home is the other way, and he's like, 'Can't you just
get out and walk home?' And we're like, 'Sal, just drive us.'"
"So, he makes the turn and about halfway up the block
there is a garbage truck taking up the whole street. It literally
has like piles of Manhattan apartment garbage next to it and
the guy's like, 'Sorry, you know, we're doing this.' So, now
two cars come in behind Sal and Sal's stuck," Joe laughed
harder. "I looked at Murray and go, 'Alright, buddy,
thanks for driving us home!' and we get out and walk and leave
Sal in the car by himself behind this garbage truck!"
"He was stuck there for twenty minutes while me and
Murray were in tears crying, walking home, and Sal was just
yelling out of the window, 'I'm never driving you home again!'"
he mimicked Sal. I admit, I can envision this scene playing
out as though it were already included on an episode, only
further proving the real friendship behind the show and the
real humor. "This stuff happens on a daily basis,"
Joe said, "where we just mess with each other and have
fun, but it's all in good fun."
This good fun has proved excellent television for fans everywhere
, leaving no doubt in my mind that we'll be in store for more
antics and laughter in a second season (and third and fourth
and fifth, etc.). While the official word has yet to come
from truTV, the jokers remain positive.
"If we are, it's going to be insanity," Joe laughed
while discussing the prospect of the second season. "I'm
hopeful that that's coming for us. We would love to keep making
people laugh and doing this stuff with my best friends."
"You know, we just love the fan support," Joe
turned it back to the fans that have been spreading the love
for the show and propelling it to the next level. "It
began being us having fun and it has now evolved into something
bigger than that where we are actually providing real entertainment
for people who are really taking to it and really enjoying
what we do."
"So there's a higher stake for us in season two and
we're going to want to push the envelope even further, do
a lot more fun stuff and now people know us. So, that's good!"
He explained. "That's going to make for better TV because
people get to know and want to know more about us. So, it
may be less about what they're going to do, but to see us
mess with each other and be real friends like people know
Only half a season in and this is true already. No matter
what team we find ourselves on, we just want to know more
about these four men! That's certainly part of why we love
those insightful scenes between the challenges where the guys
are just talking to one another. "We have a lot of fun
doing those. And those come very naturally to us because we
have a plethora of stories that we could talk about whenever
you just give us a topic," Joe acknowledged.
But with viewers getting to know the four extraordinarily
likeable best friends and the show garnering more and more
attention, I had to touch on the potential for being recognized
while in the midst of a challenge.
"We get recognized a lot when we're together as a group.
We do get recognized individually as well, I mean, it's been
insane," Joe explained. "But I feel like we get
recognized a lot more outside of New York because New Yorkers
aren't paying that much attention. I just recently went to
Las Vegas on vacation a little while ago and when I was there,
I got recognized there more in four days than I did in three
months [in New York]." He laughed.
"It was absolute insanity. I was getting approached,
getting pictures taken and all that stuff and it totally caught
me off guard because in New York, it happens maybe once or
twice a day. But we had filmed a couple of episodes since
the show had aired, so we only had to stop down a couple of
times because people knew us. So we just had to be like, 'Shh...'"
he laughed, again, clearly thinking back on some challenge.
"But there's still enough that don't [recognize us] that
I think we can get away with it for a little while longer...
It definitely helps that people never think they're on TV.
They're like, 'no, that's not you.'"
But those individuals and fans that have recognized and supported
Joe and the other Impractical Jokers have certainly left a
mark on these funny men. "The way people have taken to
it and the fans - it's really surprising how fast it took
off for people," Joe reiterated. "Our official Impractical
Jokers Facebook page, just watching the numbers fly and watching
the reviews that people have given after each episode and
to just see it grow has been absolutely amazing."
"The fans are amazing. I love spending some time with
them because there's nothing like that. It's a nice reward,"
he explained after having recounted the incredible fan displays
like the artwork, the videos, the covers of 'Butterfly Crime
Scene,' the story of a woman running up, out of breath, to
he and Murray to get a picture with them or even the Vice
President of Operations of the White Castle they've now been
to twice who was "completely bummed because he had a
meeting he couldn't miss, so he wasn't able to come out the
But, all you Team Joe members, prepare yourselves, because
you may just fall even more in love with Joe Gatto than before
when you find out what he said was "one of the coolest
things that happened" due to the show's success. And
it has to do with his family!
"I really think one of the coolest things was my nephews
are 13 and 10-years-old and their friends wanted to come over
when I was over. Like, I left the house and had to go outside
so all [his] friends could meet me. He was such a proud little
guy and to be able to give him that was really, really cool."
Alright, yet another thing to add to the list of charming
attributes of Joe. (Does the list ever end?!)
So, as you prepare for the new episodes and watch the old
ones that remarkably never, in fact, get old, keep in mind
Joe's final message to all of us fans: "Get ready! There's
a lot of fun stuff coming up on these next episodes!"
And, of course, "thanks so much for all the support.
We need it and love it and love you back!"
Impractical Jokers air Thursdays at 10
PM on truTV.
For more, check out our interview
with Sal Vulcano and James Murray
and our Impractical
Jokers news feed.