I recently had the chance to interview Brian “Q” Quinn as he was leaving the set of TruTV’s Impractical Jokers (Returns August 1, 2013 – check local listings.) currently filming their upcoming third season. We chatted about the Jokers and our mutual love for all things Hunter S. Thompson. Here’s what Q had to say.
TheTwoCents: First, congratulations on TruTV’s recent renewal of your show Impractical Jokers for a third season. That’s great news since the second season is set to premiere on August 1st. Can you tell us anything about the new episodes or any plans for season 3?
Q: Thanks so much. I don’t want to spoil any specific jokes about the new episodes as I hate when people do that to me, but these episodes starting in August are definitely going to show off an escalation of the stuff we do to each other. For one, we’re getting better at screwing with each other. I mean, when you’ve been friends as long as we have you already know exactly how to best attack each other, but doing it for TV is a different animal. We’re past the learning curve now. It’s gonna be brutal and hopefully funny. Brutally funny.
As for season 3, I think we’re going to see the show evolve a little bit. TruTV trusts us a lot more now. When they gave us the show we were fairly inexperienced so they kept a tight eye on us. Now there is the feeling, I think, that they have loosened the reigns a bit. We can mold the show into new directions without them panicking. We’re not looking to reinvent the show or anything, but maybe branch it out a bit. We’re very excited about season 3.
TTC: I’m not sure if everyone realizes but The Tenderloins were a pretty successful comedy/improv troop before Impractical Jokers. Can you tell us the origin of the group and how Impractical Jokers came about?
Q: The Tenderloins were formed by Joe, James, Sal and a friend of ours name Mike back in the late 90’s. They did live improv shows all around Manhattan. I went to a lot of shows to watch them and they were very, very funny, but I wasn’t a part of it back then. I loved watching my friends do their thing though. I’m just not much of a performer and, really, not the biggest fan of improv. Eventually they went through a few lineup changes and decided to shift their focus to filmed, scripted sketches and I started writing stuff with them. I love writing much more than performing, so it was a good fit. That led to success online with MySpace and YouTube and the like. That led to us getting an agent. That led to us pitching TV shows. That led to Impractical Jokers.
We have a lot of those sketches still online. If you like IJ you should check them out. I’m still really proud of them.
I like to bust the guys chops that they didn’t get successful until I joined the group, but I think they are getting tired of that joke. Some people can’t handle the truth.
TTC: Speaking of “origin stories,” I understand DC Comics is planning an Impractical Jokers comic book. That’s pretty big news. Do you plan to lord your DC comic book over your friends and fellow podcasters from Comic Book Men — who also have a forthcoming comic book ‘Cryptozoic Man’ from the smaller Dynamite label? What can you tell us about your comic book and are there any plans for you guys to hit any of the big upcoming conventions like Comic-Con or Dragon*Con?
Q: I am so excited about the comic book! Comic books are a passion of mine. I really, really want to get into writing comics, so this is a good foot in the door, I hope. I can’t really lord it over the guys too much, as Bryan and Walt both have some serious credits to their comic book resumes and, frankly, there is just so much better stuff to rip on them about. You listen to Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave. You know I’m dealing with lunatics on that podcast. It’s the reason that podcast works. We’re all nuts. Fans of IJ should check it out, because its a side of me I can’t show on television. Also, Sal gets ripped on a lot.
The IJ comic came out great. I dove head first into helping with that. As a comic book fan for my my entire life, I’ve seen my fair share of lame tie-in books and I wanted to avoid that curse. I wanted something I’d be proud of. I’m so grateful that the wonderful people at TruTV and DC listened to a lot of my thoughts. Even better is that they brought in some really talented people to draw it and write the script. It was wonderful to see a collaboration work so well. Creativity is tough with a lot of people involved but I have nothing but praise for everyone that worked on this.
I mean, it’s a promotional one shot comic book about a hidden camera show, so I know we’re not making Watchmen or DKR, but it is fun and fans of the show will like it, I think.
We are going to San Diego to support it and TruTV is setting up a lot of events and, honestly, I could not be happier. I’ve been to comic con many times, but this is different for me. I’ve never been there as someone with something to promote, so I’m very excited about that. It’s a whole new perspective.
Plus I got invited to the Superman anniversary party, which is mind-blowing to me. I’d rather go to that then the Playboy mansion. I’m a huge Superman geek. I have a Kingdom Come Superman tattoo. I’m going to be like a kid on Christmas.
TTC: I understand that The Tenderloins have a new TV show in the works for for 2014 called “After Party.” Will that show also be on TruTV and what can you tell us about the new show?
Q: After Party is on TruTV and it will immediately follow IJ. Its supposed to be our version of The Talking Dead, but I think we’re going to release a much different animal. None of us have an interest in sitting there and talking about ourselves like some mutant self-appreciation society for a half hour. We want to do something fun and creative with it. We want to it feel like you’re hanging out with your friends when you watch it, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on.
This might be a weird comparison, and TruTV might get nervous when they read it, but I liked the tone of the old MTV game show Remote Control. Obviously this isn’t a game show, but I remember watching that show and loving how wacky it was, and how anything can happen. I’d love to have that tone to After Party.
We might pull it off. TruTV is really looking to shake up their network and move into new areas of comedy. This could really fit into their new vision.
TTC: And finally, your show is probably the only hidden camera show that involves the general public where the participants don’t reveal that they’re on a television show. It’s a brilliant idea because, we in the audience, are left to wonder if the people involved ever actually find out they’ve been pranked. Of course, they all have to sign waivers to be on the show (unless they’re blurred out — like the famously blurred “Moustache” from season 1) but we never see anyone learn they’ve been part of a hidden camera prank. Has there been any trouble getting people to co-operate with a gag and how much stuff ends up on the cutting room floor also has there been any ideas that The Tenderloins have proposed for the show that the network refused or that were filmed that didn’t make it to air for whatever reason and what’s your favorite prank and punishment so far on the show?
Q: Yeah, we decided early on not to show reactions because our show is really about screwing with each other, not the public. You do kinda see the reaction of the person getting pranked because that person is us. Plus, I mean, we wanted to do something different. How many times are you gonna need to see someone go all wide eyed and say “Really? I’m on TV?” It’s been done a thousand times. And done really well. Why compete with that?
Mostly people are happy to sign and co-operate because we don’t do anything mean to them. We don’t want them to look stupid or duped. We want US to look stupid and duped. For me specifically, I want Sal to look stupid and duped. Of course there have been a few exceptions, but not many. A few times we’ve caught people cheating on their spouses who don’t want to be on TV for obvious reasons.
A TON of ideas get rejected by the network. They just won’t pay for us to pull off ideas they don’t agree with. It’s their money, so that’s their right. We talk about this in our live shows, actually. We go through rejected challenges. A lot of them should have been rejected, but it makes for a really fun bit in the live show. We actually went out and shot some of them on our own time and our own dime. We show them to our audience and they seem to like them. But advertisers probably wouldn’t be happy if we aired them on TV. Come to a live show and check it out.
As for favorite pranks and punishments, I really get a kick out of seeing my parents on TV, so anything involving them gets me super happy. I also love animals a lot, so when we shot the bit where Sal had to dig through elephant poop I got to spend a day with an elephant. I fell in love with that elephant. I got to feed her. I got to feed an elephant. That still makes me happy.
Jeff L – Señor Staff Writer