Tenderloins are on the menu as the comedy troupe behind the hidden-camera prank series "Impractical Jokers" launches "Impractical Jokers: Dinner Party" May 21 at 10 p.m. on truTV.
"We had started with season nine production" of the flagship show, says Glen Head's Joe Gatto, 43, who along with James "Murr" Murray, Brian "Q" Quinn and Sal Vulcano form the improv troupe The Tenderloins, "and we had to shut down, of course," due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "So we're like, 'OK, what can we do from home?' So we thought, one of the things that people really enjoy about us is just listening in on our conversations and getting to see our real friendship" amid the pranks they pull on each other on the TV show.
In "Dinner Party," the longtime friends will break bread and crack wise via remote video from their respective homes, taking turns "hosting" the six half-hour shows ordered so far. First up: spaghetti and meatballs. Each unscripted episode will air the same week it is shot and produced.
Gatto is married with two young children, and Murray became engaged and moved into a new house with his fiancee shortly before states' stay-at-home directives. Quinn and Vulcano are single. In any case, says Gatto, a graduate of LIU Post, "It's just us eating with each other. There may be an opportunity for some guests to join in, because it's all virtual and digital, so some might pop in here and there."
The flagship show, which premiered in 2011, features the four longtime friends challenging each other to improv their way through bizarre and often embarrassing public situations. While one takes the challenge, the other three give orders via a wireless earpiece. On "Dinner Party," however, assures Gatto, there will be no pranks. "No, no!" he says. "We're safe in our own houses!"
They had shot content "for about three" episodes of the ninth season of "Impractical Jokers" when production shut down in early March. The flagship has aired more than 230 episodes, celebrating its 200th on Feb. 13. Eight days later, "Impractical Jokers: The Movie" opened, earning $10.7 million before North American theaters closed and the film went to on demand.
The troupe additionally has its own raucous game show, "The Misery Index," hosted by Jameela Jamil, returning for season 2 Thursday at 10:30 p.m. on TBS.