The Collegian
Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Impractical joker Sal Vulcano talks punishments and interior design ahead of Richmond show

<p>Photo courtesy of Sal Vulcano.</p>

Photo courtesy of Sal Vulcano.

Comedian Sal Vulcano is on his solo tour and will be visiting the city of Richmond on October 28. at the Carpenter Theater in downtown Richmond.

Vulcano stars on Tru TV’s hidden-camera reality show, “Impractical Jokers,” coming up on its 10th season, alongside three childhood friends, James “Murr” Murray, Brian “Q” Quinn and Joe Gatto, who left the show after season eight. 

Vulcano also has his own YouTube channels, podcast and solo-tour to cities across North America, which will bring him to the river city. Tickets range from $39.75 to $59.75. 

The Collegian caught up with Vulcano on his current projects and tours ahead of his appearance in Richmond. 

THE COLLEGIAN: Who or what made you laugh growing up, and do you see any translation of that into your work today?

SAL VULCANO: David Letterman made me laugh a lot growing up and Howard Stern. You are probably a little too young for this, but there's a sitcom called "The Jeffersons." It's a famous sitcom. But the lead guy, George Jefferson, was played by this actor named Sherman Hemsley. I used to watch it and just crack up as a family, and I used to memorize the dialogue from the sitcom and do these little skits for my family. That was a big comedic influence on me. But then as I got a little older, it was like, I guess, Eddie Murphy and David Letterman... As a matter of fact, David Letterman was one of the first people I ever saw put an earpiece in someone's ear and send them out and tell them what to do. And he used to do that in the show. So that's actually a direct inspiration from him.

C: Starting from the beginning, when did the four Impractical Jokers actually start embarrassing each other?

SV: We started going to high school together in 1990, so we met when we were 13. We've known each other for a long time. I would say right around then. Joe Gatto, especially, was always one to try to embarrass me, specifically. And that started, like, I can even remember at lunchtime, in the cafeteria, just him doing stuff to either make me laugh or embarrass me. All of us have been friends for over 30 years now, so I think it started right back in the beginning.

C: What is one of the hardest parts of filming Impractical Jokers? 

SV: The schedule is really tough and coming up with new ideas after 270 episodes of stuff, but it's challenging, and that's what I like. I love the challenge every season to go in and figure out how the show is going to change, how we're going to make it better, what new things we can introduce. It's challenging, but it's rewarding. And then I guess the schedule is kind of tough because an episode could take weeks to make for us. And we're in every single scene of every single episode, which, if you think about television, it's not too common even on any other show. Like sometimes an actor is on screen, but he's not in the next scene, but with us for all those episodes, we've all been on screen 100% of the time. So it is a demanding task, the show. And it can take us like ten months of a year to film one season. 

C: I know it’s been 10 years of the show, but are there any moments that stick out to you? Favorite memories, favorite episodes?

SV: It was so much easier, in the beginning, to like, ‘Oh, this was great.’ And now, legitimately, that's a real number, I think we're closing in on 300 episodes, which means that we've probably done 1,000 bits and dealt with maybe 20,000 people. But I still think back on some of the classic ones that still resonate with me. Like the bigger ones, like when we threw Murr out of an airplane or when they put me in the swamps of New Orleans.

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But I also like the simple things, not just those huge things. Right now with the new guests, we have guests on the show now, and the punishments have become insanely huge. We’ve orchestrated a whole murder mystery dinner. We made a full fake dating game show. They got so much better. If you watched the first handful of seasons, we had no budgets and our punishment would be like, all right, we're going to tie you up and throw eggs. And now the punishments are like, all right, you're going to sing on stage with the Imagine Dragons. I like all of the experiences, but yeah, that's another one. Maybe opening for the Imagine Dragons at Jones Beach in front of 14,000 people. Yeah, that was scary.

C: What is your favorite part about going on your solo tour? 

SV: There's nothing better for me, more rewarding or interesting to me than stand-up comedy. So just to be able to have this as a job — as my job — is already insane. But just the nature of what I do: I'm traveling, I'm meeting people, but to just be on stage, one-on-one with an audience and a mic, there's really no other feeling like it. Even being on television doesn't feel that way. There's no barrier between me and the audience. There's no waiting to have an actual exchange. On the show, we film something, you might see it like six months later, and people say, ‘Oh, I love that. I watched it.’ But on stage, it's so immediate with the audience, and it's just the energy that you can't recreate. So, for me, when you write everything yourself and you go out there and your jokes are landing and you put a lot of work into it, there's really no better feeling.

C: Let's say you weren't a comedian. What would you be doing?

SV: I've been asked this before, and my answer always surprises people, but I am obsessed with interior design. I just always have been. I read focusing magazines on it. I watch videos online all the time. I'm completely obsessed, so I feel like I wanted that because it's creative as well. Recently, I finally grew up as an adult over the last eight, 10 years. I bought my own place for the first time and I had to decorate it. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the first time I should be able to do this.’ I love it so much. I don't know, I just kind of love that kind of stuff.

C: Looking into the future, what are any next projects you're most excited about?

SV: Season 10, we're filming it right now, starts airing in 2023, but we have really amazing guests on the season. We have Post Malone, and John Mayer and Anthony Davis from the Lakers and just so many people. I'm really excited for people to see that. And then the guys, and I haven't toured since before the pandemic, so it's been years. It's great to be on stage alone like I just said. But it's also really cool to do it with friends. It's been, I think almost three years since we did it, so I can't wait to get on the road with them too when we get back to it.

Contact lifestyle editor Corinne Flaherty at corinne.flaherty@richmond.edu.

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