Monday, 24 February 2014 11:10

The Tenderloins on Friendship and Practical Jokes

Written by  Josh Spanninga
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The Tenderloins The Tenderloins COURTESY PHOTO

The Tenderloins
Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids
March 15, 9 p.m.
$37.50
fountainstreet.org, (616) 459-8386

Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano met years ago during their freshman year of high school. Bonding over their shared love of comedy, they dabbled in improv and stand-up throughout high school, before going their separate ways in college. When the foursome met up after college in '99, they agreed the climate was perfect to reignite their act and take it to the next level, creating The Tenderloins.

But how does a group of grown men come up with a stage name as ridiculous as The Tenderloins? All you have to do is get the four old friends together in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco to brainstorm names. The rest, as they say, is history.

"There was kind of a really big boom then," Vulcano said of comedy in the new millennium. "Stuff like Citizen's Brigade just moved to New York City, and New York got its first taste of a real community that was studying improv."

For years, the group performed countless live improv shows, gained fame for its Internet sketches and even won $100,000 for a performance on NBC's "It's Your Show." Throughout it all, the guys attributed much of their success to a long-lasting friendship.

"We realized we had something unique because a lot of comedy troupes are either put together or they meet later in life, when we actually had our childhood together," Vulcano said. "We figured that was a chemistry you couldn't fake."

The Tenderloins recently renewed its show, "Impractical Jokers," for a third season with Tru TV. The show sounds like a regular hidden-camera prank TV show until you hear the twist – the prankster is unaware of the prank until right before he performs it. The other three guys then guide him through the prank through an earpiece, and both the prankster and prankees reactions are captured for the world to see.

During its stop in Grand Rapids for LaughFest, The Tenderloins plan on incorporating elements from the show into their live performance.

"We do stand-up in it, and we tell stories about our personal lives, about making Impractical Jokers," Vulcano said. "We show things that were cut from television. We film things specifically that we can never show on TV that we film just for the live tour."

This all just goes to show that our high school teachers were wrong – you really can become successful by goofing around with your friends.

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