Comedian troupe The Tenderloins, who famously star in the popular hidden camera series Impractical Jokers, brought their Cranjis McBasketball World Comedy Tour to Webster Bank Arena in Connecticut on January 18. My friend Julia and I had the pleasure of attending (…I say as if we happened upon it and hadn’t purchased tickets months in advance…); I now relish in the opportunity to tell you about my time spent laughing.
The audience was welcomed into the evening by way of the comedic stylings of Chris Johnston, whose tales of using the family’s Elf of the Shelf to teach his children that “snitches get stitches” and managing his road rage with the help of a raunchy talisman delighted the crowd. His anecdotes were relatable and targeted to different age groups; Johnston was able to strike a chord with everyone in the audience, leaving no person without laughter.
Following, he introduces to the stage his friends Joe Gatto, James “Murr” Murray, Brian “Q” Quinn and Sal Vulcano. With energy that matches the crowds’ enthusiasm, the improvisational quartet saunters on stage and welcomes us to their world comedy tour. The 90-minute show is an expanded take on the Jokers format that fans have come to know and love. Sure, there is no impending punishment at the end of the set, but the group tells stories that are peppered with well-timed jabs plus never-before-seen clips in the same jovial fashion. On stage, bits are not spliced to fit a 23-minute television slot, and as a result the audience is able to see a more fully fleshed out presentation of the group. That is, their personalities, which are reflected in diluted archetypes on the TV show, are more authentically presented.
Though dubbed a suggested 16+ event, the content of the evening was particularly raunchy, save for some language that usually is present but bleeped out during TruTV airings. The show was weaved together with a repeated punchline: “You’re the bad person in this story.” And the mantra is cast upon each of the Jokers throughout the night as they tell a tale indignantly, initially believing they are innocent in the matter, only to have their school of thought “reconstructed” when another on stage offers a fresh perspective: Joe, when he thrusts his celebrity status on some unwitting teens galavanting in the mall; Murr, when he arranges his family a stay in a home that could have resulted in their demise; Q, when he sends a brutally honest email to his family (and accountant) regarding his true feelings about them, and Sal, when he gets high in Amsterdam and throws a condom at a fellow opera-goer. The last of which was particularly enjoyable as this extended anecdote highlighted in broader strokes the comedic timing and physical humor of Sal, who was recently on a solo tour performing his stand-up routine.
The live show is successful because like the television program, it is rooted in authenticity. The audience can identify themselves and their friends in the Jokers’ actions, not only in the way the group is quick to chastise one another for mispronouncing celebrity names and telling stories poorly, but through the usage of footage shot on their personal cell phones displayed on screen. People are responsive to their work because The Tenderloins are first and foremost a group of friends who want to make one another laugh.
As playful and quick as the content is, the performers swiftly (and often) change the tone of the show to earnestly thank the audience for their unwavering support, that of which is represented not only by attendance, but by the presence of Jokers’ extraneous endeavors, be it guests doting shirts for Q’s podcast or clutching bags with copies of Murr’s book inside.
The evening’s conversations culminate in a confetti-falling sing-along, at which time those sitting in the “pit” area are able to have a chance at exchanging pleasantries and snapping photos with the comedians on stage.
The Tenderloins are on tour through the summer and it is something I earnestly recommend fans of the show (or fans of laughter in general) attend.