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'Impractical Jokers' star James "Murr" Murray talks to LI kids

James "Murr" Murray from "Impractical Jokers" with Kidsday

James "Murr" Murray from "Impractical Jokers" with Kidsday reporters Rebecca Petrellese, left, Emma Breen, Andrew Ma and Lucia Tesoriero at Book Revue in Huntington. Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

We met Murr — James Murray, the star of the TruTV show "Impractical Jokers" — when he was Book Revue recently. We loved his book, "The Brink: An Awakened Novel,"   but we also wanted to talk to him about the show. 

What is the best memory you have of being on the show, “Impractical Jokers”?

Certainly not skydiving. That was terrifying. My favorite memory was the 100th episode, where we had to walk the tightrope. It was like a live episode. And Q won $100,000 for charity. That was my favorite moment.

What was the worst punishment you ever watched someone else complete?

Oh, man. It was hard watching Q have the tarantulas put on him. He was so scared. But it was funny for me. It was hard watching Joe when he’s the Genie dressed all in blue and he’s swinging around the sets knocking the whole set over. It was fun to watch those two.

How do you guys come up with the punishments?

The punishments are the only things on the show that really only the four of us have to come up with. Like we have a team of our friends that help us write, challenge ideas, come up with challenge ideas. But the punishments are so personal that it kind of comes from within. Really what happens is one guy will leave the room to go to the bathroom. And the other three will like start whispering something that we think is funny. I think a lot of it is just based on our past. We’ve been best friends since we were your age. We know so much about each other that it’s not that hard. We think about what would be terrifying to one of our friends and then we go with it.

Do you think you’re funny?

I think people think I’m funny, yeah. Yeah, I am a funny guy.

Does anyone in your family think you’re funny?

Yes, my family has always thought I was funny. They think I’m funnier now that I’m on TV.

How did you meet Q, Sal and Joe?

I met Q first. We all met in the first week of high school. Q and I were on the improv group in high school. And then Joe and Sal joined later. I met Joe and Sal in religion class the first week.

When you are doing a challenge on someone, have they ever recognized you and said something?

It happens all the time. They will recognize us and then we have to stop. And thank them for watching the TV show and kick them in the butt and get them to move on.

Do they want your autograph a lot and take pictures with you?

They do, and that’s a hard thing, too. We can’t do it when we’re on camera. Because if I take a picture people start looking and they’ll say who’s that? And word will spread that I’m there and so it would ruin the whole scene. We have to thank them and say not now, we’re filming and point to the earpiece, which is not in my ear now, don’t worry. And we shush them right away.

Do any fans send in punishments?

They do but we can’t read them because they don’t work on the TV show. So, we can’t legally read them. But they send in a lot of ideas all the time.

Did you go to a college or university to be a stand-up comedian or was it just natural?

No, I went to Georgetown, which is a really good school. But it didn’t really have like a very good arts program. I did theater there and improv there. I started an improv group there. That was my favorite part, like I did improv all throughout college. I was an English major because they didn’t have like a TV or film or comedy major.

What was the punishment that scared you the most?

I think skydiving, and the shark punishment was the most scared I’ve ever been. But in the "Impractical Jokers" movie that comes out this year in theaters, they did something to me that was crazy. It’s so crazy they took a $15-million life insurance policy out in case I died doing it. But I didn’t. I lived.

Have you ever found that you were in danger when you were on the show?

Yes. The most danger I ever felt was they had me do a punishment where I had to go up to people that are outside smoking and pull a cigarette out of their mouths and throw it down on the ground. I thought I was going to get beaten up, but I didn’t.

What are five words to describe your childhood?

Funny, creative, goofy, not handsome, passionate, ambitious.

Why did you and your friends want to start the show?

We always loved making each other laugh our whole lives. Since high school, we loved making each other laugh, and we felt all along that there was like something special about our chemistry together, the four of us, because we just loved screwing with each other so much. And we thought it was fun to watch. And we loved doing comedy. We loved making each other laugh and doing comedy and we loved performing. So we always dreamed of creating a TV show and being on it one day.

Have you ever gotten in like a big fight that you thought you guys weren’t going to be friends anymore?

There have been a couple. We’ve been friends for so long. There was one time we got into a fight, the four of us didn’t talk for like a couple weeks. Even during the years, maybe three seasons ago. We got over it.

What are some of your hobbies besides the TV?

I love writing thrillers. I love traveling and hiking. I love kayaking. I love my girlfriend. I love my parents. I love taking care of my family. I don’t have a dog right now. I grew up with a dog my whole life. I will love taking care of my dogs soon when I have them.

Have any of the challenges you’ve had on the show affected your relationships?

 A girl broke up with me over the TV show. And the story is, in the span of like six months the guys put a tattoo on my leg of a ferret skydiving. They threw him out of an airplane. They pierced my nipples and my belly button. They shaved my eyebrows off. All in the span of like a year. And she was like: Why are they always doing things to your body and no one else? I had to pose nude in front of an art class. And she was like: Why are they always doing things to your body? The truth is because I’m the only skinny one on the TV show. She didn’t like that they were doing stuff to me. So we broke up.

Did you like her that much?

Well, I’m dating a much nicer girl now. So…

Tom Hughes Rising Stars, Garden City

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