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Impractical Jokers bring pranks to Prudential Center

by Gordy Stillman / New Jersey Devils
Left to Right: Brian “Q” Quinn, Devils Alum Colin White, Joe Gatto, James “Murr” Murray, Sal Vulcano and N.J. Devil.

Impractical Jokers, TruTV’s popular hidden camera series entering its fourth season on the network, took over the Prudential Center ice Wednesday nightJanuary 28 during the Devils-Maple Leafs game to film part of an upcoming episode.

The hit show features four friends and comedians as they try to publically embarrass each other with outlandish pranks. One member of the group has to follow the direction of the other three, who are hidden out of site. Each prankster takes a turn and the “loser” of each competition has to face a challenge at the end of each episode.

The jokers – Joe Gatto, Brian “Q” Quinn, Sal Vulcano and James “Murr” Murray – relished in the opportunity to use Prudential Center and the Devils as a setting for one of their pranks.

Their upbeat personalities on the show are not an act. Even before the cameras started rolling, the group laughed and joked backstage about what they had planned for the crowd. In between cheap shots and personal barbs, they answered a few questions about the show’s history.

It all started 25 years ago when the four high school friends first met as freshmen at Monsignor Farrell High School on Staten Island. After graduating from college, they were all involved in comedy and decided to form a troupe called The Tenderloins in 1999.

“We met at Joe’s mom’s house, went into his basement and rehearsed three times a week for six months,” Sal recalls. The Tenderloins performed their first routine in March 2000, and they’ve been together ever since.

Impractical Jokers is not the group’s first foray into TV. “We had a couple of pilots that didn’t happen,” Joe said. Four years ago, the stars aligned and Impractical Jokers was born.

The group had no expectations when the show began. The thought going into it was basically “let’s just try to make each other laugh, let’s just do what we think is funny,” said Joe. “We’ve learned that the people are more willing to play along. On paper, we thought we were going to get punched…. but we just soak it up and drink the lemonade.”

Pranks on the show range from humiliating to utterly mortifying. The group agrees that Murray has probably had the most embarrassing moment to date. In Season Two, he had to pose for a classroom of art enthusiasts…naked. “I was on a pedestal, posing, doing whatever the guys told me to do.”

Their success has been greater than they ever imagined. The show received praise from the New York Times, which highlighted the friendly nature of the cast and the comedic payoff for both the unsuspecting participants as well as the quartet themselves.

After three solid season, they are getting more and more comfortable, and looking for new twists for the show. Creating the show is now something of a game. “There is no way that I would ever be on the ice with the Devils if it wasn’t for the game,” Joe laughs, admitting that the Prudential Center and Devils joke was his favorite that they’ve done so far.

“Impractical Jokers” airs Thursday nights on TruTV, including March 12 when the Devils episode will debut.

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