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James ‘Murr’ Murray and Joe Gatto talk ‘Impractical Jokers: The Movie’

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It’s been 30 years since James “Murr” Murray, Joe Gatto, Brian Quinn and Salvatore Vulcano came together as high school friends. They went from making each other laugh in an endless series of practical jokes to TruTV’s top-rated series “Impractical Jokers” in 2011.

After more than 200 episodes, the foursome has taken their hidden camera reality show to the cinema with “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” where they compete in a series of challenges for the opportunity for three of them to redeem themselves for a horrifying incident from their high school days. The movie is currently screening in 1,775 theaters, including Orono’s Spotlight Cinemas.

I had the opportunity to speak with “Murr” and Joe Gatto about how they adapted their TV show for the big screen, and to find out how they managed to pull off some of their most outlandish pranks yet. In true “Impractical Jokers” fashion, the joke is always on them.

The Maine Edge: I have to ask this question off the top: How did you land Paula Abdul for this movie?

Joe Gatto: (laughing) Everybody wants to know about Paula Abdul! She was fantastic. When we wrote the script, we went back to the 1990s and she is quintessential ‘90s. We wrote the script that we had to ruin something so we thought it would be funny to ruin a Paula Abdul concert.

When we sent the script over, we found out that she was already a fan of the show and a fan of ours. When she told us she wanted to do the movie, it blew our minds to know that we were going to include this true icon in our film. She was so cool and down to Earth, and we can now say she’s a friend of the Impractical Jokers.

The Maine Edge: Fans of the show will find a lot to laugh about in this movie but how much of what we see in the film is real and unscripted?

James “Murr” Murray: The movie has a very loose narrative just to start us on this hidden camera road trip. I would say that 80 to 85% of the movie is unfortunately very, very real. All of the challenges and punishments are real. It’s so real, we had to take out a $15 Million life insurance policy on one of the guys in case he didn’t make it.

Joe Gatto: We locked Sal in a motel room with a 600-pound white Bengal tiger. It’s very real (laughs).

The Maine Edge: Where do you find white Bengal tigers, other than India?

Joe Gatto: You’d be surprised at what you can find on Craig’s List (laughs).

James “Murr” Murray: I’ve had good luck finding them on Etsy (laughs).

The Maine Edge: What were some of your favorite moments from the movie?

Joe Gatto: This movie allowed us to pull off some of the ideas we’ve had for a very long time, and to do everything on a much bigger scale. For me, using Hollywood prosthetics allowed us to take the joke to the next level. In three hours, they transformed me into a cave-dwelling monster. The idea was that I’d gotten lost on a tour with my parents in the late 1980s and had been living underground since. When this unsuspecting tour group came through this cave in Tennessee, I would emerge from the shadows and ask them to help me get out.

The Maine Edge: Their reaction is priceless and it is exactly how people would have react in that situation. It’s hysterical.

Joe Gatto: Their reaction was so great that I think it was honestly one of my favorite things I’ve ever had to do on this journey. I was wearing a T-shirt that said “I’m The Beef” (laughs).

James “Murr” Murray: We wanted the shirt to say “You’re The Beef” but Wendy’s wouldn’t give us permission to do it.

The Maine Edge: Did unsuspecting participants refuse to be involved in the movie once they realized what you guys were up to?

James “Murr” Murray: We had to scrap an entire bit because we couldn’t get releases. The show is as hard to make now as it was 10 years ago when we started, because if you know the show, you can’t be on the show. If you know the movie, you can’t be in the movie.

Joe Gatto: The thing that always helps us when it comes to getting those releases signed is when we ask “Do you have kids? Call them. They’ll tell you about the show.” The thing is, the joke is always on us, they are never the butt of the joke.

The Maine Edge: Will there be a ninth season of “Impractical Jokers?”

Joe Gatto: We’re filming it right now and it will air later this year. We’re also coming soon to a city near you. We’re everywhere, you can’t get away from us.

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 March 2020 08:17

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