They have a knack for embarrassing each other, an “anything goes” attitude, and a penchant for off-the-wall humor.
The four men who started out as friends at an all-boys high school in New York never dreamed they’d make a living making others laugh, but that’s exactly what they’re doing. Today, they’re the stars of the TBS show Impractical Jokers and The Cranjis McBasketball World Comedy Tour.
That tour is making a stop in Fort Wayne on Friday, Nov. 16, at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The Tenderloins Comedy Troupe — made up of Joe Gatto, Sal Vulcano, James Murray, and Brian Quinn — will hit the stage at 8 p.m.
Gatto spoke with whatzup by phone just before kicking off the tour in Pennsylvania on November 8.
Whatzup: Where did the unusual name for your comedy troupe come from?
Gatto: In high school, Sal had kept a list of words that you may be slightly embarrassed to say in front of a room full of strangers. Nougat. Coulottes. And “tenderloin” was on that list and when he said it, we laughed at the idea of calling ourselves Tenderloins and that’s what stuck.
Whatzup: Did you ever expect to become as popular as you are today?
Gatto: It’s been a crazy ride. You can never imagine something like this — that you’re basically getting paid to make your best friends laugh and America laugh. This journey’s been so special just because we get to share it with each other side by side. Instead of having to go home and tell your friends how great your day was, you look to your left and right and they’re standing right there with you.
Whatzup: Do you write all your own material?
Gatto: Everything funnels through us, but we have a team of comedy producers that helps us with ideas. They’ll pitch us ideas. Some we’ll like, some we won’t. Or they’ll pitch us something and they’ll keep “spitballing” on it until it’s something that we like.
Whatzup: Why do you think your brand of humor strikes a chord with people?
Gatto: Two words — sex appeal. (Laughs.) No, really, I think it’s just a relatability that we have because we’re not playing characters. This is us. This is the way we make each other laugh. This embarrassment comedy just really translates for everyone because they feel like they’re hanging out with their friends.
The number one thing we hear all the time is, “Oh my God, I have a friend just like Sal or just like Joe.” People really relate to this friend group and the dynamic of their friends and just wanting to blow off steam and not have to deal with the problems of the day and just have a good time and I think we bring that to people’s living rooms.
Whatzup: How is your live show — the Cranjis McBasketball Comedy Tour — different from the television show?
Gatto: Our live show is basically an opportunity to hang out with the four of us. It’s the four of us on stage doing our version of stand-up, which is basically making fun of each other, telling stories with the audience there. It’s multi-media, so we show hidden camera challenges we’ve done exclusively for the live tour that you can’t see anywhere else. And the stories are stuff that’s never been told before.
Whatzup: What do you like most about being on the road?
Gatto: The best part is that you get to travel with your friends, so now we get to go to all these new towns and places like Fort Wayne. We’re New York boys, so we get to see all of America together. We’ve been fortunate enough to go to the U.K. We’ve gone to Hawaii and places all across the country, so it’s been really exciting to see the country together. You know, at this point I think there are only four states I haven’t been to, which is pretty nuts.
I’m excited to get to Fort Wayne. The bus tour is always a good time. It’s always good energy. Tickets have sold well there so we know people are excited for us to come out. We can’t wait to be there.