Before starring in the successful TV series “Impractical Jokers,” Joe Gatto, Sal Vulcano, James “Murr” Murray and Brian “Q” Quinn first became acquainted in high school.
“We all met freshman year of high school, so we’ve been friends for over 24 years or so,” Gatto says. “In high school we were big pranksters and we went to an all boy Catholic high school, so there was nothing to do besides prank and do math.”
After high school, Both Gatto and Vulcano worked in corporate America before pursuing different career paths. Gatto found a job as a salesman at a high-end baby store called Giggle. “I started as a personal shopper there; it was a national retailer so I went up in the ranks there and ended up becoming a training program manager,” Gatto says.
The four friends eventually formed their own comedy troupe called The Tenderloins. “The Tenderloins came off a list that Sal had kept which the title was ‘words that would be slightly uncomfortable to say in front of a large group of strangers,’” Gatto says.
Unaware of how successful their show would become, The Tenderloins kept their day jobs during the filming of the first season. “We all still had our day jobs and most of us were trying to balance both, and then we found we were able to go all the way for season two,” Gatto says.
Each person on the show is required to perform a challenge in order to reach a goal.
“It’s either you have to do what you’re told, or you have to get somebody to agree to do something or give you a tip,” Gatto says. “If you refuse to do something or if you’re unable to convince a bystander to do something, you lose.”
By the end of the show whoever loses the most challenges is punished. “The only rule for punishment is you can’t say no, it’s a gentleman’s agreement between us,” Gatto says.
Gatto claims to have come up with the cruelest punishment ideas. “Throwing Murr out of the Airplane was mine, and Sal’s corn maze was my idea,” Gatto says. “We put Sal in a corn maze and had people pop out and scare him; he couldn’t handle it that well.”
Gatto’s least favorite punishment required a willing volunteer.
“It was down at Seaside and I had to put a stranger’s toe in my mouth and she had been walking on the boardwalk all day, so it was gross,” Gatto says.
In addition to their own television show, The Tenderloins also perform at live venues. “The live shows are great because it’s never the same anywhere,” Gatto says. “You never know who’s going to show up for the show.”
One of Gatto’s favorite venues involved a hearing impaired couple sitting in front. “They had a sign language translator standing at the foot of the stage for these two people,” Gatto says. “We started doing our thing when we noticed it and we were like, ‘Wait a minute you have to translate everything we say?’ and they kept going and we did a whole bit where we made them say, like, everything.”
During one of their live shows intended for a mature audience, Gatto recalled seeing “a bunch of kids in the audience.”
“At the end we brought the house lights up and noticed how many kids there were,” Gatto says. “There were like 40 kids and we brought them all on stage and we ended up singing ‘I believe the children are the future’ with everyone.”
The Tenderloins are performing at The Fillmore Charlotte on Friday, April 25 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on The Tenderloins website.