Joe Gatto Talks Impractical Jokers Season 2, returning to truTV Thursday, December 13th
They have to say it. They have to do it. You have to see it. Once you start watching, you just can't stop! Brian Quinn, Sal Vulcano, Joe Gatto and James Murray have entertained each other for years with the most hilarious dares they could imagine. Now you get to watch them in a series of outrageous stunts (recorded by hidden cameras) to make each other (and you) howl with laughter. You gotta see this to believe it!
Impractical Jokers returns for the second half of Season 2 starting this Thursday, December 13th with Episode 2.05. We recently caught up with Joe to chat about the new season, as well as his love for Adidas shoes. Here's our conversation.
Are you an Adidas collector or aficionado? Is that what you spend all of your Impractical Jokers money on?
Joe Gatto: Yes, I am, my man! (Laughs) I love my Adidas. Shoes and watches are my weaknesses.
I noticed in the new publicity stills they sent out for this season, you're wearing a pair of the very limited edition denim shell toes from 2005. Those are almost impossible to get, and you certainly don't see them on many feet...
Joe Gatto: You know, I am a basic cable celebrity, my man! I got hook-ups all over the place. (Laughs)
Talking about being a basic cable celebrity, and a second season...Going into create new episodes must have been a challenge with more people recognizing your face...
Joe Gatto: Yeah, that's all tough. It's funny, because when we travel or go to different states, like South Carolina, or we're on vacation, or what have you...People will recognize us. They are like, "Oh, my god! Oh, my god!" But in New York City, people are so busy. (Laughs) People don't take the time to notice. If we stop nine people doing a bit, maybe two people will recognize us. The other eight people don't. So it's easy to shuffle along those people that do notice us. It's important for the show to be genuine and real. We have to have that genuine fear and embarrassment. These people don't know it's a TV show, and we're about to make a fool of ourselves.
So, New York City is your playground. Most of those people are not going to recognize you...
Joe Gatto: Yeah, yeah, yeah, the city helps us shield ourselves. We have a lot of fans here in New York, but the other thing, too, is, people don't necessarily recognize us when we're out in the field. We might have an outfit on, we might look like an employee of a particular place, and these people aren't really paying attention. That helps us the most. Like, you know when we do those park bits? And the three of us are watching from afar. If someone walks by the three of us, that is not necessarily in the bit, they will see us and go, "Oh, my god, that is them!" Then they will look and see Murr out in the field, and they will put it all together. That's when we really get pinched, when they see us in a group. (Laughs)
What is the writing process like on this show?
Joe Gatto: How do we come up with our challenges?
Yes. Is this a process that lasts throughout the shooting of a season. Are you guys constantly coming up with stuff on the fly? Or is the whole season mapped out before you set out on your adventures?
Joe Gatto: It's a little bit of both. In the writers' room, we do have a few guys that come in, to help inspire us. But the majority of the writing comes from the four of us constantly thinking about what would be socially awkward to do. What would be neat to do? Basically, all of the ideas come from us, knowing how to mess with each other at such a grand level. Being friends for twenty plus years. The process is, we think about it in two ways. Okay, here is a location where it might be weird to do something. Ikea. White Castle. CostCo. A pet grooming store, where we can interact with all sorts of crazy people. Or it might be something awkward from a friend point of view. For instance, this year, we tried challenges such as trying to hold a stranger's hand while walking through the park. Or, trying to accomplish a never-ending handshake. Who can shake hands the longest with someone without them pulling away. Things of that nature. Which is a little more simpler at the core. It's interesting to see how each of us approach that. Each guy will have their own way to go about it.
My favorite bit so far is the buffet, where you guys are pulling food off people's plates. When you have something that is so much fun to do, as it is fun to watch, do you plan to revisit those types of challenges? Or is repetition something that is off the table?
Joe Gatto: Eh...For the most part, no. We will retry a joke within a bit, like, if we try the joke, and the mark wasn't giving us what we wanted. Or if we thought that it could have gone better. We will retry something. But we never set out to redo a bit again with the intention of it appearing a second time in a season. For instance, we did something this season that was a lot of fun. It was called the Wheel of Doom. You had to spin it, and whatever it landed on, you had to do it. It was like a wheel of misfortune. We really liked that idea, so we did it once. It worked, so we did it again. We did that last season, where the joke was, "Don't I know you?" Where we sat down strangers, holding them up, pretending that we knew them. We have set out to do that again, knowing that we will put it in the show for a second time.
When you set out to make your living in this way, do people see you as a mark? Do people try to get the best of you? Myself, I find you a little bit intimidating. I would be scared of you...
Joe Gatto: (Laughs) Yeah, I think people are more scared of me. I definitely have a persona on the show of being the loud outrageous one. That isn't too far away from my nature. What you see on the show is a lot of what I really do. My favorite thing in the world is to make Sal cringe, and I do that on a daily basis, cameras or not. I always tell Sal, I joke around, "I wouldn't be friends with me. What are you doing?" I do have a lot of people approach me. And they will yell, "Larry!" At me. I appreciate it. I love my fans. We are very fortunate to make people laugh in the way that we do.
Speaking of fans, I heard that you have a large grandma fanbase...
Joe Gatto: We have fans in high school, all the way up to grandmas and 40-year-old housewives. College frat guys. It's all over the map. That's what I love about it. A broad idea appeals to everyone. We are just four friends messing with each other. I think everyone in their life has a group of friends like that they can relate to. Everyone in their life has a Sal or a Q. Not many people have a Murr. I think that's just us. I think that is a part of it. People see friends being friends, and us genuinely messing with each other. I think everyone can relate to that, no matter how old you are.
You guys have been friends for twenty years. How does that work in terms of agreeing or disagreeing on some of the ideas that come up for the challenges? How does that dynamic work behind the scenes?
Joe Gatto: The magic of our show is just that. The friendship and the camaraderie that we have together, and our history together, all lends to the success of the show. That is a big part of it for me. We are fortunate to have that little secret sauce.
What kind of craziness can we expect out of this new season?
Joe Gatto: We are coming back for eleven episodes. We got very personal in this second half, which is a lot more fun. The punishments are a lot more personal. We have come up with some fun, inventive ways to mess with each other. We have had a lot of fun. I think this season is a lot better, and I think our fans are really going to respond to it. We found a lot of good, fun ways to mess with each other, and that's a big part of it. People like to see friends going after each other. So, yeah, we have done a lot of really fun stuff this year. We have also come up with a lot of fun ways to do the challenges. We have come up with new and interesting ways to run the challenges. Its not just plug the thing in your ear, and do what you have to do. Do what we tell you. We have some fun new stuff that people will be able to play along with at home. They will be able to do some of this stuff. People like to participate. We hear all the time that people like to go to games and chant, "Let's get sexy!" We have a bunch of video of people in stadiums doing that. We've heard of people nosing each other. People will go and yell, "Larry!" At Disneyland. I think people are really going to like what we came up with this year.
My dad's name is Larry...
Joe Gatto: (Laughs)
Hopefully you don't yell that around him. He will bother you and talk your ear off.
Joe Gatto: (Laughs)
As the show progresses, and more people start to recognize you guys, are the challenges going to turn inward, where the jokes are more on the guys in the group?
Joe Gatto: Yeah. I think we will always have the challenge. Maybe we can wear moustaches and cowboy hats...
You'll have to start donning disguises, I guess...
Joe Gatto: A lot of people don't even realize they are on the show until afterwards. Then they will be like, "Oh, my god! You are him." We had a really funny thing happen. This guy started to explain the show to Sal during a focus group challenge, because Sal was having a problem getting a question out. The guy goes, "Man, you really remind me of this show." We thought we were busted. But the guy just starts talking to Sal about it. He says, "There are these four friends, but they are real A-holes to each other. You should watch it." Sal goes, "Oh, I will." Then we walked up behind the guy, and his mind was absolutely blown.
Did that make the show? Will we see that?
Joe Gatto: You'll see it in one form or another. I'm not sure that it will make an episode. But we will probably put it on the web for everyone to see.
Do you guys have plans for a movie? Will you expand the brand?
Joe Gatto: We would love to do an Impractical Jokers movie. I think that would be a blast to do. You can punch the envelope in a different way. You also don't have to tie all of your comedy up into twenty-two minutes. I think there is a lot of potential there. We love doing the show. We think this is a homerun, and it's a dream come true to be able to get paid to make people laugh on TV. We do come up with a lot of content, too. We film for four hours on each challenge. We each have an hour on the floor, to come out with a five-minute bit. That's why the truTV website has a lot of good, new content there. They will push that even more. And with the App that we just put out, there is a lot of video on demand, which is cool. There are a lot of avenues for people to see our comedy that way...
Did you just say you are doing a live act?
Joe Gatto: No! Our app! It has a link to more video.
I'm sorry. I thought maybe you guys were going out on the road or something...
Joe Gatto: No, but it would be fun to do that. We have fans all over. That would be a great way to promote the show, and to promote ourselves. But I was just talking about the video being available on the phone.
(Laughs) Now, last question for you. Which new pair of Adidas are you excited to be getting this holiday season?
Joe Gatto: I'm not going to lie. On my list to Santa, there is a pair of Adidas with Larry on the side. They are personalized, and they say Larry. (Laughs) There is a big Adidas store in downtown Manhattan, in Soho. They have the whole My Adidas section. I think that will be a lot of fun. (Laughs)
You'll start a trend! Joe, thanks for stopping by this afternoon, it was fun chatting with you!
Joe Gatto: It was awesome. Thanks, dude. Hopefully you will get the word out there that we love our fans, and we appreciate everyone watching!
Impractical Jokers returns tonight, Thursday, December 13th, only on truTV.