The stars of truTV’s Impractical Jokers are on their third tour of new material, but one thing has remained: their penchant for humiliating each other.
“We get even more personal and more ridiculous with each tour,” says Sal Vulcano, one-fourth of The Tenderloins Comedy Troupe, the founders of Impractical Jokers. They come to the Comerica Theatre in Phoenix on Saturday, September 23.
“If you’ve seen us in the past, the show will definitely be in line with that. There is stand-up, stories, audience participation and videos we shot just for the tour. It’s a mixed bag of fun. It’s not just straight talking. It’s more of a party.”
Natives of Staten Island, New York, Vulcano, Joe Gatto, James Murray and Brian Quinn met as high school freshmen in 1990 and formed The Tenderloins nine years later. After years of performing live improv and sketch comedy shows, The Tenderloins crossed over to the web, garnering millions of views for their sketches. Eventually, they created the successful Impractical Jokers, which is in the Top 5 for its timeslot on cable in the United States, and is the No. 1 show in the United Kingdom and India. The troupe expanded its reach to SiriusXM on August 17 with The Tenderloins Radio Show.
Vulcano wanted to be in comedy since he was a youngster, emulating the performers he admired.
“But I was a good student and I was thinking about becoming a lawyer,” he adds. “I always did comedy on the side when I was old enough. We chipped away at it.
“After college in 1999, when we had all taken acting, improv and writing classes, we thought, why don’t we try to perform together? We formed The Tenderloins in 1999. Then we started doing live shows and filming and putting them online. I wasn’t sure if I would make a living or not.”
The quartet landed an agent and, after 11 1/2 years of performing, had its big break. TruTV liked the pilot and ordered episodes.
“It was so surreal,” he says. “The goal wasn’t like we make it tonight or we stop. We weren’t defeated by not being on TV. That’s just a bonus.
“But there’s something to be said about performing live and doing what you love. We all had jobs. ‘Q’ (Quinn) was a fireman. I managed and owned a bar. Joe worked in an upscale baby retail shop. Murray worked in reality TV as a show creator.”
Vulcano says it’s been challenging to come up with gags, but it’s worked out.
“I thought we would be out of ideas after season one,” he adds with a laugh. “We did 17 episodes and I thought, well, we did everything we could do, basically. We keep challenging ourselves and our staff.
“Every season we get together and figure out how we can change things and make things fresher. We want to do all of that and have fun. That’s the barometer of what we measure against when we do the show. Season six is airing now. We’ve signed on for season seven. We’re going to lock ourselves in the office until we can come up with enough ideas.”
Impractical Jokers Live!, Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2800, comericatheatre.com, 8 p.m. Saturday, September 23, $45-$53.