As seen on TV

Impractical Jokers back with a vengeance

Sure, L-R: James “Murr” Murray, Sal Vulcano, Brian “Q” Quinn and Joe Gatto
Sure, L-R: James “Murr” Murray, Sal Vulcano, Brian “Q” Quinn and Joe Gatto

Impractical Jokers is like Candid Camera, but with more cringing, blushing and R-rated jokes.

The truTV show is back with all new episodes Thursday night. And that’s a good thing unless you’re on the wrong end of the stars’ pranks.

The hidden-camera hit has Brian “Q” Quinn, Sal Vulcano, James “Murr” Murray and Joe Gatto daring one another to basically harass unassuming people on the streets of New York. Yep, they’ll go there: steal food off plates, smell feet, invade beach towels, strip for the masses. And live to laugh about it.

That’s just what friends do. The guys from Staten Island, N.Y., can pull these stunts because they’ve known each other since high school, where they started their comedy troupe, The Tenderloins.

We chatted with Gatto (“Gat”) and Murray (“Murr”) while they were down in Fort Lauderdale, and thankfully, both men kept their pants on:

OK, seriously: How fun is your job on a scale of 1 to 10?

JG: Nine. It would be a 10 since we get to laugh with our best friends all day, but since we get tortured daily, that knocks it down a peg.

JM: We get to laugh each day with our best friends, and the craft services are pretty good on set, making it an 11 for me.

So you don’t hate each other after all the humiliation?

JG: We’ve known each other for so long that we speak a kind of shorthand. We have so many inside jokes and stories, that we are normally laughing.

JM: We’re best friends, so we laugh our asses off, we argue, we eat, we see lots of movies together, we eat some more. You know, typical best friend stuff.

What is it like filming “Impractical Jokers?”

JG: We are involved in all aspects of the show, from writing to filming to editing the episodes. We normally start with an idea based on something we would never want to do in public, then we force each other to do it. As we film, we get people’s permission to appear and then edit together.

JM: There’s a lot of secret planning in our show. If any of us leave set for a minute, the other three guys immediately start conspiring against him. Case in point, they punished me by bringing me back to our old high school, strapping me to a lie detector in front of the entire school, and forced me to answer the most embarrassing questions they could think of.

Do you have one episode that stands out in memory?

JG: We all really collectively love the episode where we worked in a dentist’s office. It was just such a different thing because we were total fish out of water. And there were so many gadgets, including the pneumatic chair that we forced Sal to lift his patient to the ceiling in.

JM: I love “Strip High Five.” It was a two-way punishment where Joe and I had to try to high-five strangers in a park. For every stranger that does not high-five back, we had to take off an article of clothing. The punishment didn’t end until one of us was naked. And yes, that was my bare ass on TV.

Why is this show so popular?

JG: I think people are able to relate to hanging out and messing with your friends.

JM: Yeah, people relate to our friendship. They have friends like us, they prank each other the way we do. It’s really relatable.

Is there anything you draw the line at? Too over the top?

JG: We always try to not be mean. Our show is about embarrassing each other, so if it’s something that will make people feel bad, we won’t do it. Like object at a wedding, which would be so mortifying but just too mean.

JM: We know how far we can push each other. And then we push a little further.

Do you watch any other truTV shows?

JG: Guinness World Records Gone Wild is a great place to see people do amazing things, things I could never do.

JM: We recently met the cast of Hardcore Pawn Chicago, and they were awesome. A great show.

Madeleine Marr

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