Q&A WITH Q

Impractical Joker Brian 'Q' Quinn laughs through 10 questions with Ken Hoffman

Quinn and the Impractical Jokers crew are bringing their nuttiness to Houston. Photo via TruTv.com

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Got Brian "Q" Quinn from TV's Impractical Jokers on the phone. Asked him, "How does it feel to be on TV more than Steve Harvey, Ryan Seacrest, and the GEICO Gekko combined?" I was kidding.

Not really. Let's take a typical Monday: truTV is running eight episodes of Impractical Jokers from 5 to 9 pm then five more episodes from 9:30 pm to midnight — and five more episodes from 12:30 am to 3 am. Channel 57 is airing two episodes from 7 to 8 pm — opposite the same show on truTV. Tuesday is a load, too, with 10 episodes from 4 to 9 pm, followed by five more episodes from 9:30 pm to midnight.

And that's not counting Channel 2's airings on weekends, and truTV's marathons on weekends and holidays. Oh, and the Jokers have two other shows that air on truTV: Inside Jokes and Impractical Jokers: After Party.

"Q" says, "I know we're on truTV all day, but I didn't know about the other stations. It's crazy. It makes me worry for the safety of the United States that they're playing us that much. I can't watch the show. I hate watching myself. I only like the ones when my parents are involved with the show, because I like them being on TV."

His buddies on Impractical Jokers — Joe Gatto, Sal Vulcano, and James "Murr" Murray — are four grownups (though they don't act it) from Staten Island, New York, who challenge each other to make total goofballs of themselves. They keep score, too, and each episode's loser must be punished. It's the most successful, most aired, certainly, hidden camera show in recent TV history.

Impractical Jokers begins its eighth season Thursday, March 28, on truTV, and the Jokers are bringing their live stage show Sunday, March 31, to Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land on the "The Cranjis McBasketball World Comedy Tour."

Here's my "Q" and A with Brian Quinn:

CultureMap: How is your live show different from the Impractical Jokers television show?

Brian Quinn:
What you see is four middle-age men up on a stage telling jokes into a microphone. We show some videos that we shot just for the live audience. We tell stories and make fun of each other and stuff like that. We obviously can't do a hidden camera thing onstage, so we try to translate the spirit of the show. The things that people like about us, we try to re-create onstage. It's fun. We used to take questions from the audience, but we'd get one good question for every five dud ones. So we decided that we'll just get the info out that they'd ask, anyway.

CM: Let's review: Impractical Jokers has aired 180 episodes, and you've been punished 44 times. You're in third place behind Sal and Murr. So far, you've been beat up by pro wrestler Tommy Dreamer, been dragged by a horse at a rodeo, jumped 10 feet into a pile of horse manure, and been the target of 100-mph hockey pucks. Have you ever thought you might be seriously injured?

BQ: Not really, we're not out to kill each other, these are my best friends. How are you with your friends? You want to rub it in a little bit, but not too much. You don't want to hurt them. It's all in fun. I don't want anybody to get hurt, and I don't want to get hurt.

CM: After wearing your hair long the first five seasons, you shaved your head on a 2017 episode. Of course, Murr had to wear a wig made out of your hair that entire season. Are you growing your hair back or keeping it short this year?

BQ: I try to change my look every year. I'm actually growing my beard out this year, but the hair is staying short. We don't want people recognizing us. I like changing up my looks as much as I can every so often. It might help now that my hair is going almost completely gray, so that's good.

CM: With all of your success and TV celebrity, how do you keep from becoming the biggest jerk in the world?

BQ:
I think the key is, I didn't get on television until I was 36 years old, you know what I mean? The level of success we have now really didn't come in until the last three years. You're talking about a guy, look, man, I was a fireman. I know what's real and what's not real. I think we just hit too old. I'm already set in my ways.

I'm not like these people who get on TV when they're 19. I had time to develop as a human before I got on TV. I'm friends with the same people, I hang out with the same people. It hasn't changed my life that much at all. I was single when I was a New York City fireman, and I'm single now. I go to the same restaurants. I drove a Wrangler then, I drive a Wrangler now. I could say, hey, we're good guys, which I think is true, but I think age has something to do with it.

CM: Are you worried that Impractical Jokers is becoming so popular that people will recognize you when you're filming and ruin everything?

BQ: We shoot in New York City. There are 8 million people on a 14-mile island. If every person in New York City knew who I was, then damn right, I'd be flying private jets. But it's still a pretty small show in the grand scheme of things. Most people still don't know who we are, so that works to our benefit.

CM: You have three cats: Brooklyn, Chessie, and Benjamin. As a punishment, Joe made you get a tattoo that reads, "38. Lives Alone. Has 3 cats." Who watches your cats when you're on tour?

BQ: I have a team. It's mostly a guy from my old firehouse named Dan Finn, he'll help me out. But I have friends and family who help me out, too.

CM: Last year, you took your show to Madison Square Garden. What was that like for someone who grew up in New York?

BQ: That was crazy. But we had already played Radio City Music Hall, and, I don't know why, that was a little more magical to me. But when I walked out at Madison Square Garden, it was like, this is crazy. On top of that, I used to be with the fire department, the FDNY, and my whole fire house was there, and I could see them. We sold out Madison Square Garden! That's not a sentence I ever thought I'd say in my life. It's nuts.

CM: Eleven foreign countries, including England, Lebanon, Italy, Sweden, and Greece, have their own versions of Impractical Jokers with local casts. You OK with that?

BQ: We don't have any involvement in that. What they usually do is take the bits that we've done and just re-create them. We did spend some time with the British cast, hanging out and drinking with them in London. They're really good guys, and I thought they made some funny episodes. We watch the foreign shows out of interest, but we have no say in anything about that. I'd rather they do what they want to do without us.

Continue reading on CultureMap to see the final answers from Brian Quinn.

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Texans vs. Vikings could have fans in attendance. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Houston Texans say it's time that fans were allowed to cheer on the home team at NRG Stadium. On Thursday, the team announced extensive safety protocols that would put 15,000 fans in the stands for the Week 4 game against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 4.

While the Texans are awaiting permission from city and county officials to host a limited number of fans - socially distant and wearing masks – no plans have been announced how much tickets will cost, and who'll have the opportunity to buy them.

You have to love the free enterprise system: hundreds of tickets for the Oct. 4 game already are on sale on secondary market websites. Lower bowl tickets are going for $800 and up. If you don't mind sitting in the nose bleeds, tickets can be had for around $250.

So the question becomes, if you had the chance, would you attend the Texans game in early October? The tickets are big bucks, and there is a whammy – COVID-19. While the rate of COVID-19 infections is on the decline in Houston, the virus remains a major factor in our daily lives, and there's no guarantee that the pandemic won't spike here again.

Here's the rub, at least for me. Of all the sports we have in Houston, a Texans game might be lowest on my wish list of attending in person. Television does NFL games the best. There are dozens of cameras, so when a receiver catches a pass on the sidelines, we get several views, in slow motion even, to see if the receiver's feet were in bounds. We can almost feel the crunch of a quarterback sack. We get highlights of other games. You don't have to sit next to a face painter like David Puddy.

The NFL is a made-for-TV production. Which is, I suspect, part of the reason the Texans rarely open the roof at NRG Stadium. With the roof closed, the field becomes a controlled TV studio, with no worries of weather pranks.

Television doesn't do basketball or baseball nearly as well. Conversely, the experience of attending those games is terrific fun. What beats eating a couple of dogs at an Astros game? Is there even a traditional food at NFL or NBA games?

The Texans promise that strict safety rules will be enforced. And I believe them. Fans will be scattered over the 67,000-seat stadium. I'm not sure how much of a home field advantage that will be. Most of the crowd noise will come from pre-recorded tapes.

Here's one worry. Sure fans will sit apart and socially distanced. But what will happen when the game is over? Will fans file out in orderly, non-contagious single file? I flew Southwest a few weeks ago. The airline makes a big deal – we don't sell the middle seat. Passengers kept their distance during the flight. When the landed, you know how it is, everybody got up and piled into the aisle, shoulder to shoulder for several minutes.

What will happen if some goofball takes off his/her mask during the Texans game? Will there be enough security to handle each case?

Baseball is planning to have some fans attend post-season games at Minute Maid Park next month. UH Cougars, the Dynamo and Dash are playing in front of small crowds. It remains to be seen how safe – or how risky – allowing fans at sports events will be.

Will parents let their kids attend? Is waiting for a vaccine the smart play? If President Trump is right, that could be only a matter of weeks away. If scientists and doctors are right, nestle in for pandemic life another year. Even if scientists do come up with a vaccine, how many Americans will roll up their sleeve? Some believe, in the case of COVID-19, the cure may be worse than the disease. Not me, the moment Dr. Fauci says the vaccine is safe and effective, I'm sprinting to CVS.

The thinnest of silver linings, if ever there was a year worth sitting out, 2020 has been it for Houston sports fans. The Astros are scratching to stay above .500 (their present position), Jose Altuve hasn't had an extra base hit or RBI in almost a month, and Justin Verlander is throwing bullpens on his way to recovery. The Rockets are searching for a new coach, and possibly another team willing to take Russell Westbrook in a trade. The Texans season could go either way, we'll know if a few short weeks.

Why the rush to fill stadiums? The NBA is thriving in a bubble. Why not baseball and football? There's a fine line between safe and sorry.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo already has safety plans for next year, including masks and distancing. That will be interesting. Good luck controlling crowds pushing and shoving for corn dogs and funnel cakes.

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