In 2011 the commercials for this Candid Camera-like series caught my attention, but I’m sure not in the way the promoters intended. I thought the commercials and the men in them were raucous and irritating, and when the show premiered, I tuned in with the express purpose of hating on it.
I don’t know if I’ve ever in my life been so happy to be wrong about a show or its stars.
Impractical Jokers condenses the wacky antics of four best friends into about twenty of the most delightfully uncomfortable and uncompromising minutes of their lives, and I’d like to condense into three points why I appreciate having it in my life.
1. The Cast. The stars of Impractical Jokers are the stars of the comedy troupe, The Tenderloins: Brian “Q” Quinn, James “Murr” Murray, Joe Gatto and Sal Vulcano. Friends since freshman year, the group has maintained itself as a cohesive comedic force for years now. One’s personality does not usurp the others’, and it’s easy to get a sense of what each guy’s about from their interactions with each other as well as with strangers. Murr will cock his head in discomfort. Sal will inevitably collapse in a fit of laughter. Joe will push the limits, and Q will grunt his way through the pain. I love that with these guys you know what you’re getting, yet with each new challenge you don’t know what you’re getting. The best part is that you can’t help but root for everyone on this show. You can’t wait to see what they’re going to do or say next. But what I find special about this group of guys in particular is that at the core of their chemistry exists a genuine love for one another and what they create together. To me they’re a great example of homosocial relationships and male friendship.
2. The Silliness. Their challenges encompass a full spectrum of weirdness, from the arguably inappropriate (explain sex to children) to the brazenly bizarre (eat as much as you can from a stranger’s plate) to the downright unpleasant (pick a stranger’s nose), and it doesn’t stop there. Many brands of humor make their mark on IJ: meta, puns, running jokes (“LARRY!”) and returning characters (Tony Gunk, Jugs McBulge and of course Benjamin the Cat). However, the punishments (for failing to complete a task or a joke) feature some of the most creative and cringe-worthy moments. For example, a loser had to smell people’s breath until he correctly guessed what the person ate. Another had to skydive. Someone else had to strip for people in a park. I mean, these guys have gotten tattoos for the sake of a joke! One of them even got married all in the name of the show! It’s outrageous!
Puts an incredulous smile on your face, doesn’t it?
Or maybe not. Some people might think this is stupid. That the show is stupid, the guys are stupid, that I’m stupid for liking it and that everything about this blog post and the show it’s celebrating is stupid.
Some people get so mad at others for having fun. Speaking of which…
3. The Spirit. At the end of the day, when all is said or done (or not), this show is just fun. Everything is meant in good fun, and the truth of that, the actual innocence of that message and the love in that message always keeps me coming back for more. True, it doesn’t inspire me much by the way of my writing, but it inspires my spirit, without which I surely cannot write or accomplish much of anything at all.
On a more personal note it even helped me through college. Though I could barely face the day, it put a smile on my face and made me realize it takes guts to have that much fun.
I want to have guts like these guys. Don’t you?
Do you like Impractical Jokers? What shows give you a healthy dose of laughter? Leave a comment down below if you like. Thanks, Ja’Crispy.