By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Wednesday, November 18, 2015
If I want to channel my inner eight year old, I just flip on an episode of TruTV's "Impractical Jokers," where four life-time buddies in their 30s have goofed on each other for more than 100 episodes over four years.
They are making their second visit to Atlanta in two years Friday, November 20, this time at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. (Last year, they did their show at the Tabernacle.). You can buy tickets here.
"The first one was kind of an introduction to us," said Joe Gatto, one of the four members. The others go by shorthand names of Q, Murr and Sal. "This is more a continuation. People get to know how our life has become on the road. It's a lot of stories of when we were younger and how that molded us into the crazy people we've become. There will be a whole bunch of new videos you can't see anywhere else."
Gatto admits that this job is a dream come true, something very few people could actually say with sincerity.
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"It’s an amazing ride we’ve been on," Gatto said. "We're so fortunate. We have the support of our fans and the people at [Atlanta-based] TruTV. They have such faith in the show. It's insane. We look around every day on set and pinch ourselves that we're at work."
In fact, 100 episodes, he said, "is about 98 more than we thought we'd ever be allowed to do."
For the uninitiated, the show is basically a way for the four friends to try to humiliate each other in the funniest way possible. They do three challenges per episode, followed by a punishment for the loser. Examples: They ask strangers to watch over their kid. They steal sips from other people's drinks. They'll try to slip as many pencils as possible into unsuspecting people's pockets. The goal is not to make fun of other people. It's to make each other look as foolish as possible.
Many of the punishments involve the guys getting naked. The comedy for Joe is in his pudgy body a la Will Ferrell. "That's a little extra for the viewers," Gatto said. "You're welcome America!"
His body, he admits, "has become a punchline." His daily regimen: donuts and "plenty of rest and non-exercise."
The only time you typically see him burning calories is when he runs around trying to find a person named Larry. It's running joke, so to speak. He's done this bit in a grocery store, a car dealership and as an excuse to cut in line at TKTS for Broadway tickets in Times Square.
The name of this tour, in fact, is the "Where's Larry?" tour. "I get called Larry more than I get called Joe," he mused.
But his favorite bit of all time is when he was supposed to serve mashed potatoes at a restaurant in a funny way. It is now called "Scoopski Potatoes," courtesy of a song Gatto came up with off the cuff.
He said he asked the restaurant owner if it was okay to make a big mess. And he went for it. And now with Thanksgiving coming up, he said he gets videos from people imitating his bit. "I've ruined many Thanksgivings!" he said, with pride.
Amazingly, Gatto's marriage has survived the fact his three friends are all single. Bessy "is not a Yoko," he said. "She's amazing and understanding how crazy this is."
And in a city of 8 million people, the New York City-based "Impractical Jokers" are still not universally recognized so they can still mess with unsuspecting folks. "If people recognize us, we shuffle them along and grab someone who doesn't," he said.
Challenges are easy to come up with, he said, but fresh punishments are a challenge. One that they couldn't do but was actually part of their initial pitch to TruTV featured one of them interrupting a wedding by objecting to it when the preacher asked the question, then realizing he was at the wrong wedding. "We can't ruin someone's wedding day," he said.
The show just finished its fourth season and has embarked upon a fifth one, with 26 more episodes.
A season that long takes nine months out of a year. Yet the guys are so attached, they'll do tours like this when they aren't shooting the show. Heck, even after a recent show, they decided to go see the latest James Bond film at 10:45 p.m.
I can see these guys decades after "Impractical Jokers" had ended still pranking each other at the assisted living facility they will be living at in 2050. I told them I'll have to track them down then because I'd want to be there just to get some bonus laughs.
7 p.m. Friday November 20, 2015
$49.50 before fees
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta