NYTVF Alums, The Tenderloins, headed to truTV
Impractical Jokers, starring New York-based comedy troupe ‘The Tenderloins,’ premieres tomorrow, December 15, on truTV. The hilarious show stars Brian ‘Q’ Quinn, James Murray, Joe Gatto, and Sal Vulcano, and follows the four friends as they dare each other to do stunts and feats of bravery while being recorded by hidden cameras. We spoke to Impractical Jokers star James Murray, who holds the distinction as being the first producer to get a deal from the NYTVF (he sold and piloted his first Festival entry, Criss Cross, with A&E in 2005), about shepherding the project to TV, capitalizing on Festival success and navigating the network development process.
NYTVF: James, you have been involved in television for a number of years, and you certainly have a long and storied history with the New York Television Festival. From your experience in television to your time with the Festival, what prepared you for making this show for truTV?
James Murray: The NYTVF was my first big break into TV, and set me on this path. It gave me the confidence and connections I needed, and I learned an important lesson from the fest - work hard and don't stop, no matter what. Impractical Jokers is the Tenderloins' third swing at television, and our first show to actually go to series. The fest also set me on the path to land my job at NorthSouth Productions, where I'm the VP of Development. Working in development has been invaluable, because it taught me how to structure and pitch shows, to get used to rejection, and to appreciate the successes all the more when they come.
You have worked in both scripted and nonscripted shows with your troupe. The TV pilot The Tenderloins, which premiered at the 2009 NYTVF, was very much a scripted comedy show - what made you decide to pursue making a nonscripted show? What can you tell us about the network development process?
JM: For us, the goal was to just do a comedy show that we enjoyed doing, and played to our strengths. My A&E pilot was nonscripted, our Spike TV pilot was scripted, and our NYTVF pilot was scripted. I think we came to the realization that what makes our dynamic unique is that we have been best friends since high school, and have been doing improv all our lives. So, creating a non-scripted show felt like the right move at this point. I think they key was finding the right format to show off what we do, and the right network to believe in us. Thankfully, we've found both!
One of our favorite aspects of Impractical Jokers is that you're all actually friends in real life – what inspired you four to create together in the first place, and how did you decide to make this specific show?
JM: I've known these guys for over 20 years, and they're my best friends. I met Q at Freshman Orientation in High School, Sal in the cafeteria eating a chickwich, and Joe in religion class as he tried to secretly drop his nose on the teacher as she walked up the aisle. The 4 of us did improv and sketch comedy together in High School, then created the Tenderloins after college. We've spent most of our adult lives trying to make each other laugh in public, so that's what inspired the TV show. Only difference now is there are cameras on us!
We know from the previews that this show puts you guys in, shall we say, awkward positions...can you give us any inside scoop on the most outrageous situations?
JM: Gosh, there are so many. It's been a hugely embarrassing year, all for the good of the show! We've rubbed lotion on strangers' bodies on the Jersey Shore, worked as customer service reps at Six Flags, given fake psychic readings to mall patrons, "bounced" at a Long Island nightclub, cut people in line at TKTS, sucked toes on the boardwalk, dropped our noses on people at Costco, and more. Whatever we dare each other to say or do, we've gotta do it. And half the time we fail!
The show is set to run for 16 episodes. Are you already planning season 2?
JM: Shooting the first season has been an incredible ride and truTV has been so supportive of the show. We'd love nothing more than to do a second season. Stay tuned!
Do you have any advice for aspiring tv creators?
JM: Work hard, be patient, and remember that every failure gets you one step closer to success. And submit a pilot to the NYTVF!
Find out more about Impractical Jokers at www.truTV.com/ImpracticalJokers and tune in tomorrow at 10 pm EST!