Punishing Sal

Sal Vulcano, James "Murr" Murray, Brian "Q" Quinn and Joe Gatto make up The Tenderloins, stars of truTV's "Impractical Jokers."

Sal Vulcano, James “Murr” Murray, Brian “Q” Quinn and Joe Gatto make up The Tenderloins, stars of truTV’s “Impractical Jokers.”

Imagine that you just lost a bet to a group of friends – your punishment is that they get to strap you to a furniture dolly, blindfold you, and do whatever they want to you. Now imagine a few moments later you open your eyes and you’re in a church filled with 300 of your closest friends and family members. You look to your right and see one of the guys you lost the bet to is dressed in a tuxedo. You look to your left and see a bride walking down the isle – approaching you and the groom. As she gets closer you realize the bride is none other than your own sister. Your old high school buddy of 24 years is marrying your sister as a practical joke. In this case it’s more like an impractical joke.

Sal Vulcano.

Sal Vulcano.

That scenario happened to Sal Vulcano – one of four members of the comedy and improv troop The Tenderloins. The bet he lost was a series of prank-style games that the guys force each other to play on complete strangers. The one that fails the most games is punished by doing something that’s usually completely humiliating. The pranksters consist of the aforementioned Vulcano, his short-lived brother-in-law James “Murr” Murray (the newlyweds were annulled the next day), Brian “Q” Quinn and Joe Gatto.

“I was in shock” said Vulcano. “I was even more upset with my sister and my family – they were all there in formal wear, so it was all premeditated. I think to this day that was the most planning and secrecy that has gone into anything. I think they planned that for almost six months … On a personal level I really, really did not like it. On a creative level I guess I gotta hand it to them. They really pushed the boundaries with that one.”

The friends first met in 1990 as freshmen at Monsignor Farrell High School, in their native Staten Island. “We started doing improv together in our senior year in ’94, then we went to college, came back in ’98 and in ’99 we formed The Tenderloins. We had all gotten into comedy on our own and when we got back we ran into each other and it was like ‘Oh you’re still doing comedy? Let’s try it together.’” explained Vulcano.

In 2007 after millions of views online, The Tenderloins entered and won the $100,000 grand prize on NBC’s “It’s Your Show” competition with the sketch “Time Thugs.” Four years later in 2011 truTV announced “Impractical Jokers.” Now entering its fourth season on Jan. 29, the troop are still touring the country with their live show.

“The tour is a mix of stand-up comedy, audience participation, we improvise on the spot, we also let the show go wherever it takes us.” We show some videos and show how we make (“Impractical Jokers”) and some behind the scenes stuff. It’s really a mixed bag of everything.” said Vulcano. “Especially because there’s four of us on stage at the same time, which is not too common. So you really do get the feel of the show and that you’re just hanging out with us for an hour or two … We always like to say you come in an ‘Impractical Jokers’ fan but you leave a Tenderloins fan.”

XF4c0UnWhen the four aren’t recording the show or touring on weekends, they’re living with the life decisions made for them as punishments. “I decided I’m gonna keep it,” said Vulcano about his recent tattoo of young actor and Twitter phenom Jaden Smith. “That was a punishment and it really captures a time of my life, it represents the show and the lengths we’re willing to go to get a laugh … so it does have a deeper meaning than just Will Smith’s son (laughs).”

You can see the impractical joking quartet on the “Where’s Larry? Tour” Jan. 11 at The Louisville Palace. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 502.583.4555.