Take Your Punishment, Impractical Jokers Style

Take Your Punishment, Impractical Jokers Style

I admit, one of my guilty pleasures is watching TruTV’s Impractical Jokers, the reality hidden-camera hijinks of comedians and best friends Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano. The show is a cleaner and, I think, funnier version of MTV’s Jackass. It’s not the moneymaker of its MTV predecessor, but it’s successful enough to celebrate its 100th episode Thursday night with a “Live Punishment Special” telecast from the guys’ hometown of New York City.

They even got Howie Mandel to emcee the thing – he says he’s a huge fan, and I don’t blame him, though I’m sure TruTV made it well worth his time.

If you’re not familiar with the premise, the guys (all best friends from their time at nearby State Island high school) dare each other to pull zany pranks on the unsuspecting public and film the hilarity that ensues. The ones who succeed at the tasks get a “thumbs up” avoid the punishment at the end of the skits. You guessed it, the ones who get the most “thumbs down” are in for some sort of humiliating experience.

After all, as the show’s slogan goes, no one can embarrass you quite like your best friends.

Sure, Impractical Jokers is sophomoric as the guys hold fake focus groups and try to stump each other in front of strangers, convince people at the mall to allow them to lick the bottom of their shoes, participate at children’s birthday parties as a clown or try to get the unsuspecting to let them hold their hands and walk with them through the park. It all sounds stupid, but you have to watch to believe the magic.

With their anniversary show, the guys took things to new heights – specifically five stories above the South Street Seaport in Manhattan with a high-wire act to benefit their favorite charity, with Quinn, or “Q” as he’s known on the show, winning $50,000 for the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation for walking the farthest. Actually he made it all the way across.

“Nothing says great TV like humiliation and danger,” Mandel said.

There’s a great live blog of all the action from our friends at SiLive.com. The tasks were all previously recorded, but the race across the wire was real-time, much to the joy of the hundreds of fans who gathered below.

My favorite Impractical Joker is Joe, who reminds me so much of a good friend. He’s the zaniest and craziest by far, but they are all pretty hilarious. If you’re expecting highbrow humor, don’t bother. But go into it with low expectations and I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy yourself.

The guys must be doing something right to last five seasons with a show that you and I could film us down the street and with a smartphone. They don’t spend much on production value but still got Geico to present Thursday night’s episode. So the joke’s on these guys, and they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

About Ryan Gray

An award-winning, professionally and academically trained journalist. I'm a reporter and editor of news, business, sports, and entertainment and manager of the entire production process for print, online and multimedia/interactive for my company. I drive our brands and those of our clients via storytelling and audience engagement. I also direct curriculum development for related conferences and provide quality assurance on all projects and facilitate teamwork throughout the company and convert traffic and readership into dollars. In my spare time I enjoy music, playing with my daughter, blogging and consuming great TV shows and films. Specialties: News/feature reporting, editorial direction, editorial production management, video direction, multimedia, blogging, content marketing strategy, social media, editing/proofreading, page layout, HTML, public relations, photography/videography

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