Questions with Comedians: Get to know the ‘Impractical Jokers’

The stars of "Impractical Jokers" (from left to right): James "Murr" Murray, Sal Vulcano, Brian "Q" Quinn and Joe Gatto.

This week’s Questions with Comedians features two stars of the hit TV show "Impractical Jokers," Brian "Q" Quinn and James "Murr" Murray.

Q and Murr, along with lifelong friends Sal Vulcano and Joe Gatto, play practical jokes on each other and unsuspecting people every Thursday night at 10 p.m. on truTV.

The show, in a word, is hilarious. Here’s a sample:

Here’s a chance to get to know the guys, who will be on "Conan" Wednesday night, a little better.

What’s your most favorite practical joke that you’€™ve ever pulled?

Q: Making a TV show is a lot of work. I actually feel a little duped on this subject. Nowhere in the stories about getting on a television show do you ever hear about how much hard work it is. All you ever hear about is TV stars sitting in chairs on set while beautiful Production Assistants fan them and fetch them lattes. I feel very positive that someone told me if I get on television there would be limo rides. Definitely someone said I would be getting a ton of free stuff from companies that want me to be seen with their products.

None of this happened. The reality is that you work seven days a week, usually from the moment you wake up until the moment you collapse in bed.

Look, I know I’m not crawling into a burning building to save people. I’m not walking the beat dealing with scumbags who want to kill me. I’m not on a oil rig. There are plenty of ACTUAL hard jobs out there. I’m not out of touch. All I’m saying is that this is harder than the cake-walk I thought it would be.

So, when my fellow Impractical Joker Sal took a week off to traipse down to Costa Rica while the rest of us stayed back in NY and continued to work on the show, I felt jealous. The nerve of this guy. Sitting on a tropical beach getting fanned by beautiful production assistants and drinking lattes while I wrote stupid ideas for "Impractical Jokers" in our woefully inadequate, tiny writers’ room.

This would not stand.

To teach him a lesson, we broke into his house with our camera crew and filmed ourselves doing awful things to his house while he was away. Joe rubbed his naked ass all over Sal’s couch. Murray raided his fridge and dipped his fingers in just about every edible item Sal owns. I took my kitten and rubbed her all over Sal’€™s bed. On his pillows. Everywhere. I did this because Sal is terrified and grossed out by cats.

We took the footage of this and cut it into a presentation that he had to give in front of an audience. There he was, giving a PowerPoint presentation about work place safety or something lame like that and suddenly there was a video clip of his house being violated.

This would be one of my favorite practical jokes we pulled on the show. It was funny, sure, but more importantly it was petty.

What’s the worst thing that has gone wrong during one of your practical jokes? Has someone ever freaked out on you?

Q: We had this brilliant idea for a bit where we would go into a children’s playground in Manhattan and start baby talking to people. The plan was that we would start out by talking to a kid in baby talk, and then engage their parents in conversation without dropping it. The ultimate goal was to get one of the parents to talk back to you in baby talk. If you could pull that off, you win.

I’m going to guess that it’s because none of the four of us have kids that we didn’t see what a horrible idea this was. Four middle-aged men creeping alone around a children’s playground and acting in a bizarre manner is not something that will fly.

It reminded me of that scene in "Jaws" where, after the Kintner boy was eaten, nobody wanted to get into the water. The whole beach was just eyeing the water nervously. No one was really having fun. Tension was thick.

Eventually the cops were called. Of course the cops were called. Why did we ever think that the cops WOULDN’T be called?

After we showed the officer our permit to shoot there and explained what we were doing, he gave us that look that all cops have mastered. The look that tells you he can’t believe how stupid you are, and that he’s deciding whether he wants to do the paperwork that would be involved in taking this any further.

We got out of there with a warning, which is great, because I don’t want that one on my record. We’ve stayed away from children’s playgrounds since.

Murr: Sal was working the checkout at a supermarket, and we told him to take a picture with his cell phone of the customer’s credit card. Needless to say, the customer totally freaked out and called the cops. When the cops came, they calmed the customer down, and asked to take pictures with us – they were fans of the show!

Which sports franchise would you love to pull a practical joke on and why?

Q: I’d love to take a shot at getting one over on Manchester United. I love the team. I love the game. I love when I get to go to Old Trafford and watch them do their thing. The whole organization takes itself very, very seriously though. They could use a little lightening up.

The first time I went to Old Trafford, I was hoping for some light soccer hooliganism, but even the fans in the stand were pretty well behaved.

I’m sure it has something to do with the amount of money at stake over there. I bet if you went to a game in, say, Hull City, you’d experience a lighter (and less expensive) time, but Manchester United is really athletes at the top of their game. It is a sight to behold.

Plus, if I was able to make the team laugh, they might like me. And if they like me they might give me free tickets to the game. That would be dope.

Murr: The Yankees, mostly because I’d like to go to a Yankees game for free. Can I bring a date?

You used to pull a lot of practical jokes in high school. Which one got you in the most trouble?

Q: I went to Monsignor Farrell High School on Staten Island, which is an all- boys Catholic high school. All boy schools are breeding grounds for punks looking to pull practical jokes.

In our senior year we pushed things a little too far.

First we had something called the Rice Capades. This is where we all snuck 10-pound bags of white rice into the school within our backpacks. At the appointed time, we pulled out the bags and dumped the rice all over the school. It looked like a blizzard hit. The floors were covered in drifts of rice. Students where slipping and sliding in it everywhere. We had rice fights. It was a blast. Took the janitorial crew weeks to get all the rice out of the school.

This put the administration in no mood for further shenanigans. So, of course, we pushed it further later in the year.

For our second salvo, we had something called Vermin Day. Vermin Day was where we all agreed to sneak animals into the school and set them loose. There were ducks in the elevator. Squirrels in the classrooms. Cats in the gym. Turtles roaming the hallways. Birds soared around the cafeteria, pooping on everything. Blue crabs were let loose in the water fountains.

I got caught putting goldfish in the toilet. Mr. Cummings, the dean, did not believe me when I told him that the goldfish had swum up the pipes into the toilet and I got myself a healthy dose of detention.

What’€™s your best sports memory?

Q: Whether it is an actual "sports" memory is something that we can debate another day, but when I was a kid my father brought me to the Meadowlands to see a WWE (then WWF, of course) wrestling show. This was the 1980’s when wrestling was EVERYWHERE. Hulkamania was at its peak and would never run wilder.

At this point in my life, I did not know that wrestling was "pre-determined" and thought every blow and drop kick was real. It was thrilling.

So, out comes Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and he’s managing Adrian Adonis. Adrian is swishing towards the stage and the crowd is booing them. The whole place is booing them. It was insane. Heenan was taunting the crowd and driving them nuts.

When Heenan got to the ring, Hulk Hogan starts giving him the business and they’re yelling at each other on the mic. Finally Heenan says something over the line and Hulk rears back and slams his forearm into Heenan’s mouth.

TEETH FLEW EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!

I JUST SAW A MAN’S TEETH GET PUNCHED OUT!!!!!!!!!

Now I know that it was actually Chiclets or something like that, but when I was a kid watching it, to my core I believed I just saw Hulk Hogan punch the teeth out of another man.

Jesus, just writing about this decades later I’m starting to get all worked up and excited again.

I’€™ve been to a lot of good games. Hell, I was there when Roger Clemens threw that broken bat at Mike Piazza in the Subway Series. That was up there in terms of a crowd going ape s—. But even that did not come close to recapturing that sense of insanity that I experienced as a kid in that arena.

Thanks, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, wherever you are.

Murr: Two outs, bases loaded, championship game in the Staten Island Little League. I was a million miles away in right field, mostly because I sucked at baseball. The batter hit a pop fly deep into right field, and clearly some higher power was looking out for me, because I caught that damn ball and we won the championship. My personal Al Bundy moment.

What band in the history of bands would you like to see play halftime of the Super Bowl?

Q: Without a doubt I’d love for the gang from "Always Sunny In Philadelphia" to play the Day Man Musical during the halftime show. My favorite episode of one of my favorite series ever.

Day Man, fighter of the Night Man. Champion of the sun.

Then football. It would be hysterical.

One thing I really hate is when my TV show, Impractical Jokers, plays the same night and same time as their show. I actually find it depressing. I want them to make that show forever, so I hate competing with them.

Murr: The Jackson 5 join forces with Jay Z and Justin Timberlake! A cameo by Beyonce or Alicia Keys never hurt anyone either…

What are you afraid of?

Q: Let’s skip the stuff I’m supposed to say about World War 3 and losing my family and get right down to the thing that actually keeps me awake at night.

I adopted my cat Benjamin when he was eight years old, which is about middle age for a cat. This cat is the coolest cat in the entire world. Never scratches. Never hisses at you. Just wants to chill out with you and watch X-Files and just generally be a good cat pal.

I think about all those years he spent with another family and I’m afraid that he likes his previous owners better than he likes me.

Sometimes at night I’ll whisper in his furry ears that if they loved him so much, they never would have abandoned him and moved to London. They never would have left him behind. I tell him I’m the only owner who ever truly loved him.

I whisper this to him while he sleeps at night.

I think I may have a problem. I may need help.

Murr: Skydiving, or as we now call it after the guys threw me out of a plane – crydiving. Sharks. My Italian mother’s wooden spoon.

Who’s the sexiest professional athlete (male or female) out there today?

Q: Look, I know he’s not active, but there will never be an athlete sexier than Paul O’Neill.

I’m not into dudes, but if I was, it would be the guy who strikes out then runs into the dugout to flip over a water cooler.

Intensity is sexy, and no one was more intense than Paul O’Neill.

That being said, there are some saucy vixens on the U.S. Women’s Curling team.

Murr: I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Martina Navratilova.

You’re on Death Row. You get one last meal. What’€™s the meal?

Q: Stuffed lobster with a slice of pizza on the side. Buttered popcorn for dessert.

I’ve actually thought about this answer many times over my life and it always comes back to this.

Sometimes I think about changing my answer to a home-cooked meal from my mother -€“ my mother is a GREAT cook – but then I think about how depressing it would be for her to cook something for me because I’m about to be put to death and I change my mind.

I can’t put my Mom through that.

Murr: Red Lobster! C’mon, you know you love those cheddar bay biscuits.

Who is your least favorite athlete and why?

And I’ll never forgive John Rocker.

Murr: I don’t necessarily have a least favorite athlete, but I do have an irrational fear of getting my ass handed to me by Mike Tyson. I mean, you see what he was capable of in the video game Punch-Out?