Interview: Impractical Jokers Introduce ‘The Misery’ to NYCC!

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Image: Linda Marie, Fan Fest News

The stars of truTV’s Impractical Jokers – Brian “Q” Quinn, James “Murr” Murray and Joe Gatto were joined by Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) during New York Comic Con this year to introduce their new game show on TBS, The Misery Index. The four brought out the funny as they shared their bond over other people’s outrageous mishaps.

 In The Misery Index, the comedy game show will feature two teams, each with one contestant and two Impractical Jokers. Teams will compete against each other by attempting to rate hilarious and miserable real-life events on a scale of 1-100 based on the “Misery Index,” a ranking system created by a team of therapists.

Fan Fest News had the opportunity to participate in a rollicking roundtable with the Jameela and the Jokers during NYCC. Check it out!

Media: This show looks at all these miserable experiences in other people’s lives. Are you going to use any of the ones that you heard about in this show to influence your Impractical Joker scenarios at all?

Joe: Yeah, yeah. There have been some similarities. I think we actually pointed to each other a couple of times being like, “Well, you know about this.” So there have been some similarities, but this stuff is actually things that have happened to people not on purpose, where as all of our stuff is a planned attack.

James: Where’s the clip about the guy that lost all his hair or something?

Joe: No, they were reading your bio.

James: Yeah, yeah, that’s it. That’s it. That’s my bio.

Joe: Yes.

James: I’ll tell you what though, they actually used some of the punishments from Jokers on Misery to screw with us.

Joe: So we have to analyze our own punishments, which was really fun.

Media (Linda): First of all, big fan, thanks for bringing the laughter! Sincerely, it’s so great to see you guys. 

Brian: Thanks.

Media (Linda): You all seem to relish in each other’s misery, which is awesome. Now though, when you’re looking at other people’s misery, do you see it differently?

Joe: Yes!

Media(Linda):  You have more empathy?

Joe: There’s empathy for sure, right? There’s empathy for sure.

Brian: Yeah, the show wouldn’t work if we were like, “Oh, look at this jerk.” You know what I mean? It’s about feeling what people are going through to be able to accurately measure where they are on the misery index.

Jameela: It’s how you win is by empathy.

Joe: Yeah. It’s empathy that…

Brian: In life!

Joe: Yeah, in life, and also dollars on the game show.

Jameela: Yeah. Yeah.

Media (Linda): Yeah, you mentioned there was a lot of money when I saw you guys downstairs on the Live Stage…

Joe: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jameela: About two grand. It’s life-changing money.

Joe: And all of the reasons why people needed money, it was like real reasons. They really needed money.

Jameela: …that one woman.

Joe: Oh one with the handbags. That was the best moment in the show when you asked her, “Oh, what do you need the money for?” She’s like, “Handbags.” You’re like, “Really?” The guy before was like…

Jameela: And like, we’re no longer that invested in you winning.

Joe: The guy before me was like, “You’re kidding me?”.

Brian: Yeah. Yeah. That’s the thing. Because when we go down, breaking from filming, we’ll talk to the contestant. You’re hanging out, they’re good people, and they’ll tell you what they need the money for and it really puts the pressure on you. And you’re like, “Oh, I got to win this for them.” It feels bad when you don’t win.

Joe: The first time that someone didn’t win the money was our first round of filming, Sal makes it to the finals and the person didn’t win all the money. And Sal looked at me and goes, “Oh, I feel so bad. Should I just give them the money?” I said, “We can’t do that.” You have to feel that state. You feel that invested, yeah.

James: We did give them an Olive Garden gift card.

Joe: Yes.

Jameela: It’s really good generosity.

Media (Linda): I don’t hate on Olive Garden.

Joe: No, you get free salads.

Media (Linda): I know. I know. It is great.

Brian: Well, when you’re there, you’re family.

Media (Linda): It’s so true. You guys also mentioned on Live Stage that you’re seeing the videos for the very first time, you’re walking into it…

James: Yeah, we have to.

Media (Linda): Have you looked at one and said, “No, that can’t be right?”

Brian: Almost every one.

Joe: Almost every one. (laughs)

Brian – to Jameela: Do you see the videos beforehand?

Jameela: Some of them I did, because I have to. I’ve got to shepherd these maniacs, and so I had to be prepared. And also sometimes, you have to explain it, because there’s an elaborate story behind the news articles. So, I was able to see some of them beforehand. Also, I’m so squeamish that I need to be prepared.

Media (Linda): I heard the little scenario downstairs with the worm…

Joe: Yeah, there’d be times we come back, and we’d be speechless. We’ll be like, “Wow, that really happened to someone.”

Media (Linda): But they’re all confirmed stories?

Jameela: Oh, they’re real, 100% real. This is real…

Joe: Read from the headlines.

Jameela: Human idiocy at its peak. We found the best of the best. The biggest fucking idiots. Posted by the other biggest idiot.

Media: Well, speaking of, this show has been around for eight seasons now. You guys are a well-oiled machine. You guys knock it out of the park every time. What’s it like jumping into a whole new format with the game show?

Joe: Ready to do it again. We found a format for our show that again shows our friendship on display in a very good way. Which I think everybody could agree, that’s what people like about Jokers. It’s as much a show about friendship than anything else. It’s a comedy show, and I think in here it really is just five friends discussing, debating intensely where they think it falls on this… where something falls on the misery index, and people playing along. It sounded like the price is right from that studio. People were yelling out numbers, everybody plays along. It really is just a…

James: It was a completely natural fit from what we do on Jokers, and Jameela fit right into our chemistry. And it could not have been more fun to do.

Joe: It was us being us, and I think that’s what we were very comfortable with because we’re not good at playing other people.

Media: You guys mentioned being shocked by the way that people want to use their money. Were you shocked by any of the ways that they categorize the misery scale?

Joe: Yes!

Jameela: Yes.

Joe: Yeah. The bear smack. So you get smacked by a bear, and it was worse to stub your toe on the beach? I was like, “What?” Somethings just didn’t compute. But again, we’re not psychologists. This is ranked by real psychiatrists. There’s real science to it.

Brian: And it’s weird because you’re advising them, so at the end of the day, it’s like, “Listen, this is how I feel, but it’s up to you.” So I don’t feel bad when they…

James: For legal reasons…

Brian: Yeah do this…

Media (Linda) – to Jameela: How did you get involved with the project?

Joe & Brian: How ‘did’ you get involved with the project?

Brian: Because you are slumming with us.

Jameela: I lost a bet. (laughs) No, I got a phone call about this game show. I think they’d seen me on Seth Meyers, the producers, and then wondered if I would ever be interested in hosting. When they called me, explained the premise of the show, and told me it was with these guys, it was an instant yes. That was it. I couldn’t get my contract signed fast enough. It was such an easy yes. I’d already known at that point since last year, that The Good Place is going to finish. And I was like, what the hell am I going to do next? How do I follow that? And I was like, this is so left field and so ridiculous and so funny, and that’s so wonderful, that this is the natural next step for Tahani.

Image: Denise Caputo, Fan Fest News

Media (Linda): You guys seem to get along so well.

Jameela: Yeah.

Brian: She’s so genuine.

Joe: She came to ‘the weird’ place.

Jameela: Yeah. (laughs)

Brian: I actually have a hard time seeing anybody else… I realized a lot of people who work together probably will say this, but how quickly we meshed and how much we grew to love her was so fast. You meet a lot of people when you’re on a TV show, but I don’t know that you[could] bond with people as quickly as I bonded with her. She’s just amazing.

Jameela: Well, thank you.

Brian: I don’t even want to look in her eyes saying it because I know I’ll get emotional. She’s just…

Jameela: We’re like family, it was instantly like family, and it was just really fun. It was nice to be able to take the piss out of you guys.

Joe: Yeah. We were like all brothers, and we got the sister that we never know we had.

Jameela: I’m like their little mascot.

Joe: And then she keeps us in check, which is good. She’s like, “Guys, it’s a game show. We’ve got to get back on track here. Let’s go. We’re reigning it in.”

Brian: All barriers dropped within a day. A day.

Joe: Not even.

Jameela: About an hour.

Brian: Yeah, yeah. I was like, she could say anything, we could say anything in it. It’s just great. It’s nice when we work with great people.

Jameela: Yeah, they desperately need someone to tell them to shut the fuck up. (laughs)

Media: What’s the status on the movie?

James: We have exciting updates coming up-

Joe: Very shortly.

Brian: Very shortly.

Joe: It’s done. It’s great. We’re excited for the world to see it. We think our fans are going to love it.

Media: I follow you guys on Twitter and it (the movie) was originally announced for July of this year.

Joe: Well yeah.

Brian: Well we announced that.

Joe: We announced it.

Brian:  I don’t think the studio…

Joe: The thing that really happened was the big shakeup over at Warner Media. They got bought out by AT&T, and Turner merged, that’s a big move over there. So a lot of things had to be in place before it could start. So, I think now that they’ve settled all in and they see everything, they’re ready to move on again.

Brian: They forgot they made the movie.

Joe: Yeah. Literally somebody found it on the shelf and it was like, “What?” It’s on VHS though.

Brian: Yeah, what’s this. When did this come out? It hasn’t come out yet?

James: In retrospect, we should not have shot the movie in VHS. That was-

Brian: We’re learning. We’re learning.

Joe: Yeah. Murray’s got a camcorder the whole time.

Media: Now that you guys are in that mindset of the game show, are there any stories or things that you see that you think would be great for Misery Index

Joe: Oh yeah, yeah.

Jameela: All the time, seriously. It’s constantly on my mind. And it’s also just the first time I’ve ever looked at misery in a way that was funny.

Joe: To gamify it.

Jameela: It really reinforces the idea that the only way to survive pain is through laughter.

James: Just two days ago, the woman in the Bronx Zoo… woman climbs into the lion den and she lived to tell the tale.

Media: Well, in all fairness she cheated us on that whole Misery thing because she stayed on the other side of the moat.

Joe: Yeah. Yeah. You’ve got to go full moat.

Jameela: Yeah, but the lion…

James: How miserable was the lion?

Jameela: I love the fact that the lion was looking at her like she was a dick.

Joe: Yeah. The lion’s like…

James: The misery is from the point being of the lion.

Jameela: Like, “If you think I’m going to fall for this around my shit.”

Brian: Yeah, look at this asshole.

James: The lion’s like, “I wish I could eat that.”

Media (Linda): So we’re here at New York Comic Con. I know you’re having a miserable time Joe, because you couldn’t get your churro, I hope you managed to find one.

Joe: I did not. (sad)

Jameela: I’ll get you one mate.

Media (Linda): Looking around, you see all of these cosplayers, who would you all cosplay?

Joe: Oh interesting. A couple of years back, when you (Brian) and I were walking around we saw somebody dressed as me, as Captain Fatbelly…

Brian: Yeah, that was awesome.

Joe: Which is really, really cool. It was a character from the show. And that was really, really a weird because there are so many better choices. Well, there are so many great choices, and for somebody to feel that much about it, it was really cool.

Media (Linda): It’s unique though.

James: I think I make an attractive Harley Quinn though.

Brian: I think so. Yeah, with the pigtails and everything.

Joe: You’ve got the frame for it.

Brian: About two years ago I had a screen accurate Ghost Busters costume made, and I wear it as much as possible. The only reason I didn’t have it today is that I wore it on the show, and production still has the costume. So last night I was like, “Where is everything?” And then I remembered. Yeah, that’s my jam.

Joe – to Jameela: Who would you cosplay?

Jameela: Last year I cosplayed as Tahani. I went in her full costume from the show to The Good Place. So, I am turning into her. A narcissistic lunatic.

Media (Linda): I know that some of the celebrities would walk around in their cosplay and then it comes out later on. Also, I saw ‘Tire Baby’ downstairs. That was pretty funny.

Joe: Yeah, they’re selling some merch from our show, one of the guys. What’s the name of the company? Master Collections.

James: Master Replica.

Joe: Master Replica, yes.

Jameela: It’s really exciting to come out into the public with you guys. It feels like being with the Beatles. Because they’re so normal in real life you really can get a sense of how huge they are, and how popular around the world. And coming in today, I felt really like chuffed, which means proud and excited to be with you.

Brian: Chuffed…

Jameela: Yeah, it was really cool.

Joe: We’re world-famous is what you’re saying. Why is no one writing it? Okay, we’re all thin. She said it, yeah. She said it.

Jameela: You are the Adele of comedians.

Joe: We’re the Adele of comedians everybody.

Brian: And she’s on a real TV show, so you could believe her.

Joe: You could bank it.

Media (Linda): You bring up a good point though because I saw you guys… when was your first time here? Three years ago?

Joe: Four years ago.

Media (Linda): You were in a small room…

Joe: Small one. A prison.

Media (Linda): A small room, it was packed…

Joe: It was a fire hazard. That’s what they said, they said they had to move us to a bigger room because we almost shut the place down.

Media (Linda): Everybody here knows you. There’s already a huge line waiting to get into your panel right now.

Brian: Wow, really?

Brian, Joe, James: Great. Yeah.

Brian: Let’s let them wait. Let’s let them wait.

Media (Linda): Yeah, I think you should. (laughs)

A big thanks to Q, Joe, Murr and Jameela for taking the time to chat during New York Comic Con. Currently, in its eighth season, new episodes of Impractical Jokers air Thursdays at 10 pm ET/PT on truTV. Be sure to also catch the Jokers with Jameela Jamil on The Misery Index coming to TBS on Tuesday, October 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET!

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