Show review: Impractical Jokers with The Tenderloins at First Direct Arena, Leeds

The Tenderloins present Impractical Jokers at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Lizzy McEllan
The Tenderloins present Impractical Jokers at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Lizzy McEllan
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NEW YORK comedy troupe The Tenderloins are no strangers to a challenge. Their hit TV show, Impractical Jokers, sees the group attempting ever riskier pranks and forfeits.

This latest tour is perhaps their biggest dare yet. After all, how well can a hidden camera prank show – which relies heavily on practical jokes filmed on location – ever work in a live arena setting?

The Tenderloins present Impractical Jokers at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Lizzy McEllan

The Tenderloins present Impractical Jokers at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Lizzy McEllan

As it happens, it works fairly well.

Cleverly, there is no attempt to recreate the content of the TV show here. There are fewer pranks than expected, though a high-stakes game they play with an audience member’s phone gets big laughs.

Instead, we get an insight into the lives of the four performers – Sal Vulcano, Joe Gatto, James Murray and Brian Quinn – who have been friends since school and are, they warn, “getting crazier as they get older.”

In place of hidden camera tricks, we are treated to anecdotes about pranks they’ve pulled, their most embarrassing moments, and the times they’ve felt most afraid.

The story passes from one comedian to another, punctuated occasionally by a video clip. Though the cracks sometimes show in the over-rehearsed delivery, the payoff is rewarding.

Indeed, the real star of the show is the chemistry between the four performers. They thrive in the presence of a receptive audience.

From the moment they came onstage, they revel in the company of fans who “feel like friends”. They laugh at each other’s jokes, underlining the punchlines and opening the door to the audience.

Sometimes the jokes fall flat, and occasionally the four tie themselves in knots as they try to appeal to their fanbase and newcomers alike. It’s low-brow, silly and occasionally cringeworthy. But at the end of the evening, it’s impossible not to feel like part of the gang.

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