You get the sense that wherever you might encounter them, talking to one of the four guys who make up truTV’s Impractical Jokers would be a fun time. And it’s true, the quartet of Joe Gatto, James “Murr” Murray, Sal Vulcano and Brian “Q” Quinn are just as down-to-earth and good-natured as they appear on their prank show, which returns with new episodes tonight at 10pm.
But getting to talk to “Q” at Comic-Con in San Diego added a unique flavor. Sitting in a downtown breakfast spot made over to be the epicenter of an Impractical Jokers media blitz, the former Staten Island firefighter and lifetime comic-book fan — seen him on AMC’s Comic Book Men? — was jubilant and engaging in the way only a guy living his dream can be.
1. You’re at a magazine rack and can pick three titles. Which ones do you choose?
Green Lantern. We counting comic books? Because they would all be comic books. Well, Rolling Stone. What would be the third? Hmm. Now I’m down to one. It gets tough at the end, man! I’m just torn between Superman and Batman. That’s all I’m thinking about. Let’s go Superman. I mean, he’s the classic.
It’s his birthday, too. [DC Comics is celebrating 75 years of Superman and held an exclusive party at Comic-Con for the occasion.]
Yeah, it’s his birthday. I was at that party last night! Put it this way, I got invited to the Playboy party and Superman’s party and I said the Playmates can go take a long walk off a short pier. I’m here for Superman. My friend looked at me like, “So you want to go to a birthday party for a guy who wears tights over Playmates?”
2. Your DVR can only carry three shows. Besides Impractical Jokers, of course, which ones do you want?
Deadwood, which is my favorite TV show of all time. Lost, because man did I love Lost. And, let’s see, let me pick something that’s going right now. Breaking Bad. Can I do honorable mention for Arrested Development and Bates Motel? Shit, there’s too much!
3. What’s been your strangest fan encounter?
This isn’t strange in a weird way, but … I know what I look like, and I see myself in the shower. So when you get 18-year-old girls coming up to you and going, “Oh my God, you are so hot!” “Oh my God, I love you!” I look at them like, “What the @#$% are you talking about? Look at me!” It’s gotta be the power of television.
Oh, I’ve got another one! How many do I get? I went to Costa Rica and I stepped off the plane and I went to get a cab, which is dicey in Costa Rica, you know what I mean? And the cab driver goes, “You’re on that show? I love it!” He knew the show, he was naming episodes … a cab driver in Costa Rica watches it. That was crazy.
4. Tell me about a time when you were starstruck.
The most I’ve ever been starstruck in my life was way before the show. I was at a Saturday Night Live after party and Bill Murray walks in. I didn’t even get to say anything to him, I was just looking at him and I couldn’t bring myself to talk. It’s Peter Venkman, man! But then that night I also met Dan Aykroyd and I ended up sitting and talking to him for an hour. He couldn’t have been nicer. But I was pretty starstruck that night. It happens all the time. We have so many people that come out and say they like the show. Rosie O’Donnell, we got to meet her. We met Adam Sandler a couple weeks back, and say what you want about Adam Sandler, but the guy made Billy Madison. He made, what’s the golf one? Happy Gilmore, which I quoted all the time. Those years were formed by Adam Sandler and his comedy. He came up to us and was like, “Hey, man, I love your show,” and he started quoting the show.
John Mayer! We went out to dinner with John Mayer. He wrote us an email awhile back, we’re in a troupe called The Tenderloins, and we did a video called “John Mayer Concert T-shirt” about a guy that I played who was into John Mayer and how people really made fun of him for it. And it’s true, because I really like John Mayer. So we used his song in the video and we got an email out of nowhere from this guy claiming to be John Mayer, and he goes, “Hey man, big fan of the show. You’ve been using my song, which I have never licensed to anybody, and as payment I demand a Tenderloins T-shirt.” We’re like, “All right, could you just prove you’re John Mayer?” He took a picture of himself holding a picture of us. And we were like, “Holy !@#$.” So we sent it to him and then when we were out to L.A., he gave us his numbers and we went out to dinner with him. You want to talk about being invisible, you stand next to John Mayer, you might as well not even exist. Girls just come up and I don’t know how that guy does it.
Basically, everybody I meet I’m starstruck. You, I’m kind of starstruck right now sitting here.
5. What are three things you must have in your fridge or pantry?
Iced tea, pomegranates and Hot Pockets. I like the ham and cheese, the Lean Pocket version.
6. You’re a big comic-book enthusiast, so what was it like getting your own Impractical Jokers comic?
Love it. It’s unbelievable, man. I came to Comic-Con two years ago and was like, “This is the last year I’m ever going to go” because it’s so packed. Plus, I’m old now, I’m 37, but when they told me this was coming out it completely revitalized me. I got to work on it, too. I’m giddy about it. I already have it framed in my office at home.
7. When I first talked to you guys before the show premiered, you all still had your day jobs. What was that like when you got to quit those and pursue a TV comedy career full time?
Scary. Because I had never prepared for a life of being on TV or for being an entertainer, so to throw your hand in, a career you never thought of, a career you don’t know if you’re good at, a career that’s uncertain, you know what I mean? How hard is it to get a TV show? It’s virtually impossible. I know it doesn’t seem that way because there’s so much shit on TV, but it’s next to impossible. So I was like, “If this show ends, what am I going to do?” I don’t know, so it’s scary. But it’s exciting. Life’s an adventure. I’ll be dead one day, I could die tomorrow so @#$% it.
On that note …
That’s it, huh? Good! Let’s end on me dying.
Photo: © truTV Credit: Jeremy Freeman