The Merry Pranksters Giving Sacha Baron Cohen a Run for His Money
We sat down with the rowdy fellas behind “Impractical Jokers: Dinner Party”—Joe, Q, Murr, and Sal—to discuss pranking during the pandemic, being funny over Zoom, and much more.
While most kids play pranks on their friends, few turn that mischief into lucrative entertainment careers like Staten Island natives Joe Gatto, Brian “Q” Quinn, James “Murr” Murray and Sal Vulcano did with truTV’s hilarious hidden-camera series Impractical Jokers, in which the high school pals compel each other to do and say outrageous things in public, and force the loser of these challenges to endure an extra-humiliating punishment. After eight seasons and 200-plus episodes—as well as a 2020 feature film and a recurring side gig starring on TBS’ game show The Misery Index—the foursome (known as The Tenderloins) have proven that the only thing funnier than making an ass of yourself on-camera is doing the same thing to your closest buddies.
In a pandemic-wracked 2020 that demands social distancing, however, the interaction-centric Impractical Jokers has become inherently difficult to produce. Fortunately, Joe, Q, Murr, and Sal have evolved with the times, developing Impractical Jokers: Dinner Party, a Facetime-y spin-off in which the comedians chat while eating a home-cooked meal of their choosing. Given the crew’s pranksterish claim to fame, the fact that Dinner Party replaces challenges with banter seems, on the face of it, a dicey proposition. Yet tailor-made for our current moment, it’s a testament to the natural and winning rapport of the New York quartet.
With Dinner Party returning for more quarantined get-togethers on Oct. 29 (replete with special guests, including Paula Abdul, Jillian Bell, Edie Falco, and Colin Jost), and The Misery Index also back for additional absurdity, it was the perfect time to sit down with the Jokers. On a Zoom call that functioned as our own unofficial episode of the series, we discussed their love of Dinner Party, COVID-19’s impact on filming the upcoming ninth season of Impractical Jokers, the most difficult punishments they’ve ever faced, and what the deal is with Murr and Sal’s seemingly contentious relationship—and if they’re going to mend it via a potential new show together.