The hilarious Impractical Jokers bring their live tour Where's Larry? to the UK! Cornfield Magazine spoke to James 'Murr' Murray, one of the four funny guys who make up the untouchable comical troop, about life as an Impractical Joker and the honest truth about the difference in American and British humour. We got exclusive insight into Murr's debut novel Awakened, as he revealed the premise of the plot and when the UK can look forward to its much-anticipated release!

Words by Evie Kissack

Unsurprisingly, Impractical Jokers is an incredibly popular show, with thousands of viewers tuning in across the UK and US to watch the Jokers mess with each other as much as possible. It isn't hard to understand why the show has become such a roaring success. Behind the savage pranks and farcical punishments, it's clear to see the undeniable friendship that lies underneath. It might seem like an odd concept to some, to tune in and watch four middle-aged guys deliberately putting each other in cringe-worthy situations, but the TV show has the winning formula. Between the hysterical awkwardness of the pranks, and the Jokers' unfazed attitudes, Impractical Jokers pushes through the sobering news stories and solemn TV dramas we are often used to, to give the uplifting message of 'don't take life too seriously'.

I wasn't sure what to expect from my interview with Murr, having watched Impractical Jokers for several years. Before the interview, I did wonder if I had been set up in a very elaborate prank with hidden cameras scattered around the office. Luckily for me, Murr was an absolute pleasure to talk to, and had no hidden agendas. I was intrigued to find out how Murr, Sal (Vulcano), Joe (Gatto) and Q (Brian Quinn) had originally formed the comical partnership, and wanted to discover how their friendship began. Their bond has grown so strong over the years, it withstands pranks and punishments that would make others weep - like a legal marriage between Murr and Sal's sister, for example...

After a morning of meetings with Comedy Central in London, Murr gave a very honest and open interview, and of course, was hilarious from the onset. 


What have you been getting up to recently? 

Well today I was at Comedy Central and had a meeting, I’m here in London at the moment. Now I’m doing press, and talking to you. Things are doing great!


You’re coming to Birmingham for the October Comedy Festival! Have you noticed any major differences between English and American comedy, and the audience reactions?

Well I would say you guys are much smarter than us Americans (laughs). We filmed an episode in London last year, and it had aired already in the UK, and man oh man, we couldn’t get away with anything! You guys are so savvy and smart; it’s funny because it’s basically the opposite of what it’s like filming in America. In America we are the smart ones and the public are the dumb ones (laughs). I would say the UK fan base has been amazingly responsive to the show. We were here in January performing and the overwhelming UK response has been humbling and incredible. It’s certainly not because of our looks…I don’t know why you guys love us so much. 


(Laughs) I think the show is actually the highest rated show on Comedy Central UK, and the UK shows so far have been sell-outs – we think you’re hilarious! I've always wanted to know if you've ever received any serious backlash from the pranks? 

Thank you! Well, we have never been punched and have never had to go to hospital... (we’ve gone to hospital, but for other reasons – not because somebody whacked us). I think our show is pretty likeable, the public is there to witness our embarrassment; we don’t do it to embarrass people. We are the butt of the joke. The closest we ever came to things going badly was once when we were doing a prank in a store, and Sal was behind the counter and was scanning customers’ groceries. This one woman came up to pay, and we told Sal to very nonchalantly take out his cell phone, and before she swiped her credit card, to take a picture of it…and she went ballistic! She called the cops on us and started screaming - we couldn’t calm her down. The cops came and tried to calm her down, and took her outside of the store. When they came back in we thought, “Oh man we are gunna get busted.” But when the cops came back they were like, “Guys, we are huge fans of the show…could we get your picture?” and we were like, “Oh, thank god!” 


Do you find yourselves being recognised a lot? Like if you’re trying to do a prank to unsuspecting people, and they already know who you are?

Yeah, it happens. Especially now, it happens more and more. But I will say, nobody has ever tricked us and gotten onto the show when they already knew the show. We’re watching you five minutes before you even know you’re on TV. We see people from the corner of the store and they notice one of us behind the counter and people can’t act real, you know, you’re either real or not. So we spot them a mile away. They’re like, “OMG it’s Sal!” …you know?


So the TV show has been going for years and is a huge success. How did you find the transition from TV to live shows?

It was actually a very natural, easy progression because the guys and I come from a live performing background. We were a group called The Tenderloins and we’ve done live sketch shows and improv together for literally the past 17 years. We went to high school together and they’ve been my best friends for 27 years. That’s our background, our forte…we love performing live. The challenge for us initially was, “How do we adapt what we do on TV to a live stage show?” And what we did was make a live comedy show and had a giant screen behind us and we shot hidden camera challenges for ourselves, and they are just for the live show, you can’t see them anywhere else on TV. The live show is really like our friendship on display. Everything you love about the TV show you will love even more in the live show. 


That was one of the questions I was going to ask - whether you are actually friends in real life.  Obviously the friendships are really genuine – that must be such a great thing, to work alongside your best friends?

Honestly, it really is a dream job. I can’t believe what I do for a living. It’s crazy. After a day of being on set, torturing my friends, and getting tortured by them, the four of us will always say, “Hey, do you wanna get a bite to eat or go for a drink?” and we all go out together after filming.


Who comes up with the ideas for the show? Is it a collaborative process? 

It’s completely collaborative. But if one of us leaves the room, the other three secretly plan things behind his back. He’ll come back after using the men’s room and be like, “Oh s***! Dammit! Now I know I’m getting screwed with next week.” That’s the way the show works. There’s lots of ‘hush-hush’ and a lot of secret conversations going on. 


Can you tell us a little bit about what to expect from the new tour Where’s Larry?

Oh gosh. This is a great one. It’s totally different to the tour we did in January in the UK. Like I mentioned earlier, we filmed a bunch of hidden camera challenges. There is an audience interaction element to this show. Towards the end of the show there’s a game we play with the audience, where we borrow an audience member’s cell phone. And when we do, you are going to lose it. It brings the whole house down. It’s so funny. 


I’ll make sure to hide my phone on the night (laughs).

It depends what you want from the night. Either volunteer your cell phone or don’t, but it’s going to be great fun either way (laughs). 


You said you did improv with the guys back in high school. When was it that you discovered you had a knack for comedic improvisation?

Well we all loved working together in high school and making each other laugh. We went to an all-boys high school, so the only thing to do was prank each other.  After college we definitely felt that we wanted to perform together, so in 1999 we started The Tenderloins comedy troop and started performing together. I think that’s really when we thought, “Alright, this could work, we really love performing as a group.” And then we stuck with it…for a long time. 


You said earlier there was a distinct difference between UK and US humour. Have you noticed a difference within the different cities in the UK itself, in terms of audience reactions?

The UK audiences feel very similar to me, but I think they’re more passionate as a whole. I think the UK audience appreciates comedy more. They are a bit of a savvier audience; they appreciate the ‘smart’ jokes that we do a lot more. The audience sometimes screams and there are people holding up signs and t-shirts they’ve made for us in a very similar way to the US. I actually think the UK are more loyal and dedicated, no joke. The response has been so overwhelming in the UK…not that it doesn’t happen in the US; it’s just that maybe we tour a lot more back home. Maybe the fact that we don’t tour here as much (there’s one chance to see us a year) contributes to that. I don’t know. But the audience is fiercely loyal, which I love. 


Do you ever do any solo work?

One of my solo projects now is my novel called Awakened. Next year I’m doing an entire UK book signing tour. The book is available now on pre-order on Amazon here in the UK. You can get the hardcover or e-book version. The actual book comes out in stores next year all across the UK. I’m sure we will do another interview then about it! But I wrote it 13 years ago…spent a year writing it…scary as hell. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed page-turner. Of course it was written before we were on TV and didn’t have an agent – I couldn’t get anybody to read the book back then! Nobody! So now with the Impractical Jokers’ success I managed to get Harper Collins to publish the book, they loved it, and now it’s going to become a big part of my life – my personal life. I partnered with a British writer, his name is Darren Wearmouth, he’s a best-selling author and is from Manchester. He’s a huge Jokers fan, and he and I polished the book together and are putting it out. It’s fun to be working with a British writer on the book. 


Can you tell us anything about the plot (of course without giving away any massive spoilers)?

Yeah, sure! I’ll give you the first chapter. So in the very near future they build this massive underground subway system in New York, and it’s cutting-edge. Underneath the East River in NYC they build a massive underground business pavilion, all glass and steel, literally underwater. All the high-speed trains come together in this underwater hub - it’s really spectacular. The scene begins with the first inaugural running of one of the trains. The President of the US is there, the mayor is there, and the mayor’s wife is on the train. The press and New Yorkers are all there. When the train pulls in to the underwater pavilion, all the windows are shattered outward, the cars are covered with blood, and all the passengers are missing. That’s how the book starts. The rest that follows is chaos whilst people are trying to figure out what’s gone on and if any of the passengers are still alive. It’s a complete race against time. There are a lot of explosions and monsters; it’s almost like an alternate future. It’s scary as hell. I’d describe it as ‘Alien meets the New York City subway system’. 


I think after this interview I’m going to have to go and pre-order the book! 

If you like thrillers, you’ll love it. There’s a worldwide conspiracy in there too. 


If you could sum up the new tour in just one word, what would it be?

Outrageous! Especially with the cell-phone game. People are going to be crying and stamping their feet with how outrageous this show goes. 

 

The internationally-famous Impractical Jokers will be coming to Arena Birmingham for Birmingham Comedy Festival 12th October. For tickets, visit www.arenabham.co.uk/whats-on/impractical-jokers, and for more information click this link: http://www.bhamcomfest.co.uk/

If, like me, you can’t wait to get your hands on a copy of Murr’s novel, you can pre-order it on Amazon now in time for its release date in June 2018. 

 

www.trutv.com/shows/impractical-jokers

@truTVjokers

Get In Touch

Drop us a line

Contact Info

We would love to hear from you and appreciate your feedback. Please get in touch with any queries or questions that you may have regarding the Cornfield Magazine.

Phone: 0121 796 6800

Email: info@cornfieldpublishing.co.uk

Website: www.cornfieldpublishing.co.uk

Address: Wythall Business Centre May Lane, Birmingham, B47 5PD

8+12=