The Light from the TV Shows: “Impractical Jokers” and Other Hidden-Camera Shenanigans

I’ve always been of the belief that a little bit of a hidden-camera series goes a long way, and TruTV’s latest addition to the popular genre – “Impractical Jokers” – doesn’t offer anything to change that particular rule of thumb. That’s not to say that the show isn’t in possession of a few funny moments here and there, though.

Brian “Q” Quinn, James “Murr” Murray, Joe Gatto, and Sal Vulcano have been friends since they were kids, and they’ve spent a lot of their long friendship challenging each other to do stupid stuff…or, at least, that’s how the press release for “Impractical Jokers” spins it, anyway. And, hey, it might even be true, given the way the guys react to and act around each other on the show. Each episode pits the pals against each other in a competition to see who can pull off the most outrageous foolishness, with one wearing an earpiece and going into some public situation (in the first episode, they work at a White Castle and a Costco as well as stand in the heart of Times Square answering questions and asking people to sign petitions) while the others throw them random things to say. If they actually have the balls to say them, then they get a point. No balls, no points.

It’s clear that they want to play up this whole friends-for-life angle amongst Q, Murr, Joe, and Sal, but I can tell you this right now: if they don’t tone down the audio on the other three while their buddy is busy making an ass of himself, I’ll only be tuning in whenever I get good word of mouth about a particular segment. It’s annoying as hell, and I don’t think I was even five minutes into the screener before I first thought, “Geez, these guys are obnoxious.” In their defense, if they weren’t so obnoxious, they almost certainly wouldn’t end up getting as many laughs. But I can barely hear my own laughter over their constant giggling.

Here’s a quick clip to tide you over until the show makes it debut on Dec. 15 with back-to-back episodes at 10 and 10:30 PM (EST / PST):

But, hey, let’s not pretend that “Impractical Jokers” are the first people to hide a camera and film crazy shenanigans. As long as I’m talking about these guys, the least I can do is offer up a few clips from some of the other shows that have helped blaze the trail for them.

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