By LESLIE COLLINS
November 6, 2013
Sal Vulcano gets paid to embarrass his best friends. But they know how to dish it back.
As part of truTV’s hit show “Impractical Jokers,” Vulcano and his best friends from high school Brian “Q” Quinn, James “Murr” Murray and Joe Gatto are constantly brainstorming ideas for their hidden camera show.
“We tried to do our own take on it,” Vulcano told Northeast News of creating the hidden camera show. “We wanted it to be a prank show, an improv show, a show about our friendship and we ended up with what you see now.”
What you see now is a camaraderie that shines, and of course, plenty of embarrassing tasks. During each show, they assign tasks to each other and give directions through earpieces. They’ve had to whisper sweet nothings to customers at a grocery store, open for an Imagine Dragons concert as a lousy, pathetic band and in upcoming season 3, they force Gatto to pretend he’s an escape artist at a well-known Atlantic City, N.J., casino.
“He didn’t know exactly what he had to do,” Vulcano said of Gatto.
Then, the emcee of the magic show revue announced Gatto would be the headline act, showing off his escape artist skills.
“Of course, he didn’t even escape out of the knot we made,” Vulcano said.
Gatto was bound in ropes and chains and donned a straight jacket as he was lowered into a cylinder that began to fill with water. When the water rose near his mouth, they stopped the water, and stopped the music and lights.
“We just let him sit on stage struggling for about 40 minutes while the audience watched him,” he said. “They (audience) took the journey with him. They were like, ‘Oh, this is going to be amazing…Oh, something went wrong.’ Little by little, people started walking out. I think that was one of the most hilarious things we’ve done.”
Asked how they come up with their ideas, Vulcano said, “We just come up with ideas we think would make us really uncomfortable. We basically have to come up with a list of things we don’t want to do.”
Another aspect of the TV show is the punishment each cast member faces if he fails to complete a task. Past punishments for Vulcano have included ransacking his home while he was on vacation and making him dig through elephant excrement to find his keys.
“I really do feel I get the worst punishments,” he said.
Despite the punishments, Vulcano still loves his job.
“No matter what, it’s great,” he said. “I go to work and I write jokes and I laugh all day with three of my closest friends. It’s pretty cool. We are very self aware of how lucky we are and fortunate to be in this position. Believe it or not, we’re together six to seven days a week working, and then we hang out socially. It’s pretty crazy. If anything, it’s definitely preparing us for marriage.”
Tenderloins to perform in KC
In 1999, Vulcano, Quin, Murray and Gatto, who hail from Staten Island, N.Y., formed the comedy troupe, “The Tenderloins” and performed sketch and improv comedy on stage. Later, they began uploading their videos to YouTube and MySpace. Now, they’re touring the U.S. with the “truTV Presents The Impractical Jokers Tour featuring The Tenderloins.” The tour hits Kansas City’s Uptown Theatre Saturday, Nov. 9. Attendees can expect a combination of stand-up, never-before-seen hidden camera videos and stories and insight into the making of Impractical Jokers.
“It’s a mixed bag. There’s something for everyone,” Vulcano said. “We complement each other. It’s a good give and take.”
Asked how the group thought of the name, “The Tenderloins,” Vulcano said the name dates back to high school.
“I don’t know if it was out of boredom or immaturity, but me and my buddies kept a list of words that we’d be embarrassed to say in front of a large group of people. It got up to 100 words,” he said.
One of those words was “tenderloins.” When the four friends were brainstorming names for the comedy troupe, Vulcano threw out the name and it stuck.
For Vulcano, who used to work a nine to five job in mutual funds, working as a comedian is a lifelong dream.
“I surprise myself when I stop and think about it,” he said. “I’m making a living creating and doing comedy.”