A conversation about the fandom with Impractical Joker, James Murray

By: Nina Grenga

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- “Hey, its James Murray!” If you’re as big of an Impractical Jokers fan as I am, then you realize how surreal answering my phone and being greeted with this cheerful introduction was for me. Yes, after bombarding his assistant’s email for a couple of weeks, I was able to schedule an interview with one of “The Tenderloins:” Murr.

For those reading who may be confused as to why I just addressed someone as a piece of meat, let me explain.

“Impractical Jokers” is a comedic television show starring four lifelong friends (A.K.A “The Tenderloins”) who compete to embarrass one another in public. Not only has the show already begun filming their eighth season for truTV, Joe, Sal, Q and Murr can also be found touring the country for their live comedy shows. Many would argue these four best friends from Staten Island are unlike any comedy act today; I think selling out Madison Square Garden is enough to prove these arguments correct.

Murray, along with the rest of the group, attended Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island and also participated in his community’s theater. Following high school, he furthered his education by attending Georgetown University and received his B.A. in English. This degree would be put to good use as Murray is the co-author of best-selling Sci-Fi novel, “Awakened.” The sequel to this, “The Brink,” will be released in June. Making the Christmas season even more special, whoever pre-ordered “The Brink” at the time received a personalized video message from him. His talented writing and closeness with his readers have ultimately landed him a Shorty Award nomination in the literature category.

In our brief conversation, Murr and I discussed the fandom surrounding his hit TV show, and I was able to get his perspective on it. When asked how he would describe his fans, three words came to mind. “Dedicated, loyal, ravenous.”

Their comedy troupe is unlike any other and the same can go for the fans. Since they are a group, the fan culture is comparable to that of musicians.   

“They treat the guys and I like a rock band [because there are four of us,]” said Murray.

Despite it commonly being a family-viewed show, the guys have a large following of teenagers as well as a reported 70 percent of fans being female. When Murr brought up the large female population he made sure to add in,  

“It’s definitely not because of our looks.” This was joked about a few times throughout the conversation, but there are actually a lot of women eager to “woo” them over social media and other platforms. When asked about this, Murr attributed this to two things: women seeing the guys as “gettable” and the fact that they play themselves on the show.

Not only does portraying themselves on the show get the Jokers an abundance of marriage proposals, it creates a special bond between the group and all of their fans. They have been able to break the barrier of being a celebrity to becoming the fans’ “friends on TV.” Since the fans are able to relate to the group, it’s much easier to connect with them.  

“Each of us get, without exaggeration, 100-200 letters a week from fans through various platforms, of things going on in their own lives and really impactful stories on how the show has impacted them.” According to Murray, the outpour of support and gratefulness from the fans is “overwhelming,” in the best way.

Along with creating an amazing connection between the fans and the Jokers, the show has brought groups of fans together to form friendships with one another solely because of their unified love for the guys. Murr told me about the hundreds of social groups online who all click with different parts of the show and how these strangers bond over these links. Not only do these fans connect with each other over social media, they even meet up and curate real relationships. 

Having this conversation with Murr was an amazing experience to say the least. He discussed how all the Jokers are very accessible, whether it be through social media or other differing outlets. The fact that he was telling me, a fan, that over the phone clearly proves it.

Make sure to check out “Impractical Jokers” on truTV and other streaming services now and vote for James Murray at http://www.shortyawards.com!

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