A Studio Audience Perspective
By Lucia Rossi
Since television viewers can’t get enough of Impractical Jokers, The Tenderloins comedy troupe are getting their own six episode comedy spinoff series called: Jokers Wild. The Jokers will consist of Staten Island’s own Brian “Q” Quinn, James “Murr” Murray, Joseph “Joe” Gatto, and Salvatore “Sal” Vulcano.
Jokers Wild is unlike the Jokers usual filming style. This show is studio based rather than the constant use of hidden cameras and includes taped field pieces, in-studio games and special guests. It’s an improvisational show with comedic skits and a live studio audience, one of which I was lucky to be a part of.
Tickets for the show were either bought or won in contests on The Impractical Jokers Twitter. The film location was temporary. They rented a catering hall in Gowanus, Brooklyn that was transformed into a comfortable living room setting with couches, chairs, cameras, bright lights, television screens, props, and wires.
Before the audience could enter the hall , however, on that June 18th afternoon, everyone had to wait outside on a long line beneath the blazing sun. The backstage crew required audience members to wear wristbands, sign waivers, to maintain secrecy, however, they were not thorough with the process because many people, including myself, did neither.
When it came time to go through security, all outside drinks needed to be thrown out, bags checked, bodies felt for weapons, and scanning done with metal detectors. Security was friendly with the crowd as they checked us one by one.
Once inside, the backstage crew tried to seat everyone with the ones they arrived with, but seats were limited and groups had to separate. Free pictures, a booklet, and small water bottles were left on each seat for the audience but needed to be kept out of sight for filming. Everyone was asked previously to not wear white for the show, but this rule was not enforced.
There were four large cameras placed in and around the audience. The director encouraged the crowd to laugh loudly and to bring energy because that is what would encourage the Joker’s performance. While still preparing to start the show, comedian Nick Turner was hired to entertain. He asked audience members where they were from and what they did and improvised jokes based off of that. In between scenes, Turner, also, came out to keep us laughing and in a good mood.
Finally Sal, Q, Murr, and Joe were ready to go. Although this is an improv show, most of the show was scripted, but that didn’t make it any less funny. Every couple of lines, the Jokers had to redo the lines just done from one camera into another so different shots could be taken, they called it the one shot camera and four shot camera. As the studio audience, we were required to laugh as though we just heard the joke for the first time even though we heard it several times.
“It’s called acting,” Sal said jokingly as he told the audience what to do after a certain line was said.
During filming, the Jokers would stop and change lines or actions to different things they were funny until the director picked which he liked best. The director would say what he liked or didn’t like, for instance cursing wasn’t tolerated because of the TV-14 rating. Joe seemed to be the Joker to lead the troupe during filming, he would direct and speak out the most on what and how they were to run things.
Two advantages to being in the crowd was being able to see pre-taped sketches on their television screens before they air and seeing surprise guest stars such as comedian Steve Byrne and Man Vs. Food star Adam Richman. Since two episodes were filmed during this sitting, one guest star played the mailman that delivers fan mail in each episode. They even pulled out an audience member to be in the show because of his much admired afro.
When filming was over, audience members waited outside for pictures with the Jokers. Everyone in the building needed to be out before a certain time so closing was a rushed process. The Jokers were heading out as well so only they had a few minutes to spare for pictures and autographs but they were glad to see their dedicated fans.
Jokers Wild will be on the TruTV network starting September 25 on Thursdays at 10PM.