Jokers

"Impractical Jokers" stars The Tenderloins — from left, Brian Quinn, James Murray, Joe Gatto and  Sal Vulcano — return to the Adler Theatre, Davenport, on Thursday night.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The last time the stars of truTV's "Impractical Jokers" played at the Adler Theatre in Davenport, their hidden-camera series had just taken off and not many people knew of the foursome's "other" identity, as the improv comedy troupe The Tenderloins.

There are a lot of differences in the 2½ years since then, said group member Brian "Q" Quinn.

"We've cleaned it up a little bit," Quinn said this week, en route to a stop in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. "We had a little more blue humor and a little more cursing in the last show and we tried to clean it up for this one."

That was done after scanning the audiences at the live performances, he said.

"We didn't realize when the show first went on the air how it would be a family-like viewing event. We didn't want to do anything but support that," Quinn said. "We feel we can be funny without cursing and that stuff, so we challenged ourselves to clean it up."

There are other differences in this show, on what the Tenderloins are calling the "Where's Larry? Tour."

"We made a conscious decision to tell stories that are less about the TV show and more about our personal lives," Quinn said. "It's a different tone of the show entirely."

The Tenderloins — Joe Gatto, James Murray, Sal Vulcano and Quinn — have been friends since they were freshmen at an all-boys Catholic high school in Staten Island, N.Y.

"It was just our personalities. We all had a thing for comedy back then," Quinn said of high school, where they were four of a 230-person senior class. "You're kind of close to everybody at a certain point. Some friends stick and some friends don't."

The four performed improv in high school, and formed The Tenderloins once they graduated college.

They had various comedic training through the years.

"Joe and Murray took classes, improv classes," Quinn, 39, said. "Sal's such a student and lover of comedy that he soaked it up that way.

"I didn't take any classes," he added. "I don't like improv as much as I like writing, that approach. We all have our little strengths and weaknesses, so it works out."

The popularity of the TV series has meant bigger venues for the group, which got its start at 200-300 seat comedy clubs.

"We just sold out Radio City Music Hall in less than 24 hours," Quinn said. "It's those live shows and interacting with the viewers of the shows. People dig the shows, that's nice."

The live shows bring a different level of satisfaction as shooting "Impractical Jokers," Quinn said.

"TV is weird. You tell a joke and you wait six months for the punchline to land," he said. "You don't get that instant feedback, and with the live shows you get that, so we come out in force. It's just an honor and a pleasure."

The Tenderloins celebrated the 100th episode of "Jokers" with a live show in September that included the four daring each other to walk across a five-story tightrope above New York City. They were coached by Bello Nock, a longtime performer with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.

Quinn called the walk "completely nervewracking," even though the eight-year veteran of the New York Fire Department was the only one to make it entirely across.

"Everything else was OK for me, but that first step on the rope was very challenging," he said. "I kind of had a leg up on the height thing over the other guys."

The Tenderloins are hosting an "Impractical Jokers" cruise in January, have a deal for a few more seasons of the series and looking at a possible movie version.

"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel, we're just trying to run with 'Jokers' as far as we can go," Quinn said. "We'll worry about the rest later."

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