EXCLUSIVE: James ‘Murr’ Murray Dishes On Impractical Jokers, Skydiving, and The Possibility of A Jokers’ Movie
In 1999, four high school friends formed a live comedy troupe called The Tenderloins. Now, 17 years later, those same guys star in their own show that’s close to wrapping up its fifth season on truTV called Impractical Jokers. It’s easy to argue Brian ‘Q’ Quinn, Joseph Gatto, Sal Vulcano and James ‘Murr’ Murray are living the dream; getting paid to humiliate your best friends of 26 years and travel the world doing what you love ain’t so bad a gig.
Joker James Murray, who is better known as Murr, took time to chat with Sling and answer some fan questions.
How would you describe, in your own words, Impractical Jokers?
Hmm. Impractical Jokers is an upside-down prank show, where the four us – the guys and I, my best friends for 26 years, – get an earpiece and go out into the public where we have to do or say whatever our best friends tell us. If we refuse to do anything they tell us, you lose and you get punished in some horribly embarrassing way. It’s kind of like Candid Camera meets reality TV.
Are there lines you personally refuse to cross?
Well, you know, these are my best friends for 26 years, we went to high school together and we formed our comedy troupe The Tenderloins years ago, so I know literally everything about them. I think we’re pretty good judges of what lines we can cross and what lines we can’t. But they push, man. A few seasons ago they threw me out of an airplane – and I’m terrified of heights – for a punishment and it was hysterical because I cried like a very young school child; it was so funny and terrifying. We’re always pushing boundaries, but we know, generally, we’re not going to kill anybody or rob a bank. Other than that, I think anything’s game.
Do you ever feel like your punishments are worse than the other guys’?
Yes, I deal with that all the time, thank you for bringing that up. My punishments are far worse! I don’t want to give too much away, but two weeks ago they had something done to my body that all men, when they reach a certain age, have to get done. I’ll let you figure that one out. But, when men reach a certain age, you’re supposed to get these done regularly and they had that done on TV for my punishment. It’s crazy! I can’t believe what I have to do. It’s so much worse than what Q has to do. Q has to, you know, breathe in someone’s breath to tell what they ate, but I’m the one getting thrown out of airplanes against my will.
Speaking of your punishments, do you have either of your nipples or your bellybutton still pierced?
I was debating keeping the “sexy” thing hanging from my bellybutton, but I decided to take them out. I do still have my tattoo, as do all of us. I’ve got my ferret on my leg, Sal has Jaden Smith, and Q has the cat that says “I’m 38, live alone and have three cats.”
What’s something fans might be surprised to know about you?
Something surprising? Let’s see… I’m ambidextrous, like, truly; I literally do half-and-half. I cannot dance, but that’s probably pretty obvious. My job was a TV producer before I got the show – that’s kind of surprising, a lot of people don’t know that. My job for years was to create and sell TV shows that have been on television, including Jokers – the guys and I created it and I pitched it and sold it. I’m surprisingly cuddly. I get my back waxed monthly. I get my eyebrows threaded, but I bear the brunt of that: the guys torture me all the time and make fun of me for that, but Joe’s the one that told me to do it because he’d been getting it done for a year before I got my eyebrows threaded! Anyway, my mom makes the best pizza in the world, and there you go, that’s all you need to know about me.
That’s actually a great segue into my next question, which is a fan question. I saw you retweeted our tweet asking fans what they wanted to know from you, and somebody wanted to know if you would reveal anything the guys may not want the public to know?
Well, why would I reveal that then? Let me think. Some people know this, but Sal would die if he didn’t have his sleep apnea machine. He has to lug it with him on tour, which is very fun because it has its own case he’s got to put through TSA security. They always want to know what it is, so they take it out. At every airport he has to take out his sleep apnea machine, which is like a Darth Vader helmet. We all breeze through security and Sal is 10 minutes behind us in every airport. What else, other secrets? Joe’s baby is actually mine, I’m the father. No, just kidding. If it’s truly a secret and they’re friends of mine, I can’t tell ya.
Fair enough. I have a handful of fan questions, if you wouldn’t mind answering some of them?
Hit me. Let’s do it!
Ok, @jbballbricker wants to know: When did it sink in you were actually living your dream?
Good question. There are a couple of moments I felt that. I remember distinctly December 15, 2011 when season one premiered and we had a premiere party. After it premiered, you know, friends were there, family was there, and – I just remember hugging the guys, the four of us together. As I mentioned before, I worked in TV for many years and having worked on that side of the business, it is so hard to get the show on the air – the odds are so stacked against you as a performer, as a creator, as a producer, so that moment stands out in my head, like, ‘Holy cow, we may never have another season of the show, but I will always have this moment.’
Another moment that sticks out for me was Radio City Music Hall. We did three shows there in January and I remember ten years ago we did a show in Manhattan at a 20-person theater and two people showed up and it was $5 a ticket and we did the show, of course, because you have to. But, to do three shows at Radio City is mind-blowing. That night and the whole weekend, I couldn’t believe we were doing it.
The third moment – I feel every day in this business I can’t believe what we get to do for a living, but the 100th episode we did a live punishment in the fall of last year – when Q walked the tightrope successfully 50 feet up, that moment was one of the best moments of my life. I can’t believe what we get to do and I’m doing it with my best friends.
I think there’s a fourth moment to come. That was a long answer, I’m sorry. I think the fourth moment to come might be – if it happens, we’re hoping to shoot an Impractical Jokers movie this summer and I think the fourth moment will be the day that comes out in theaters. It may bomb and make no money, but the day it comes out in theaters will be the fourth moment where I’m like, “This is absolutely a dream come true.”
You guys definitely have a rabid fan base, so I can see that being a success.
Many of them do have rabies, they are rabid. We’ve been meaning to get them all shots.
@Team_sal_and_q wants to know: What has been your favorite punishment?
We have a couple, but my absolute favorite was Strip High-Five because of the simplicity – you have to get a high-five from a stranger and whenever someone doesn’t get the high-five, they have to remove an article of clothing. It goes tit-for-tat until one of us ends up naked and that is so purely simple and I love it. I think my favorite punishment, though, is where they made me strip down naked except for a little thong and glistened me up with oil and I had to go in there – I thought I was competing in a bodybuilding competition, but I was actually walking into a room with my childhood crush Danica McKellar, who played Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years – she looked gorgeous and I looked not gorgeous and I had to interview her in this intimate, kind of exposé interview and I looked ridiculous, but I was so proud of my friends for coming up with that punishment but also so absolutely mortified – that makes it my favorite punishment.
@CrystalRosas10 wants to know: Do you sing?
Do I sing?
Of course, I do! I have a pretty good voice. Here’s a fun fact for you: Q and I used to be all the leads in high school musicals and plays. I did musical theater throughout college, too. Q was Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie; I was one of the Jets in West Side Story; We were in Meet Me In Saint Louis, On The Town, Godspell, all kinds of musicals.
Several people want to know, who is your favorite Joker besides yourself?
I can’t say myself twice, right? There’s no way of answering that question, they’re my best friends, but Joe.
A handful of people also want to know if you’re single? If so, why?
I have no STDs, I’m not damaged in any way. I am not married yet, I will say that. The reason is, I haven’t found my soul mate yet, maybe that’s why, who knows?
@Sheshebee wants to know: What happens to all the numbers fan girls give you?
That’s a funny question! How does somebody know if I get numbers or not? The way that question sounds, it sounds like I’ve got a spare room in my apartment that’s just, like, a stack of numbers from over the years I’ve put in my pocket. That’s ridiculous. Nothing! Sometimes I call them, we’ll see, who knows!
@NaomiBres wants to know: Did you eat the bread Joe put down his man knickers?
I did. Not only did I eat it, I didn’t know until – We oversee all the editing of the show and I see the cuts that come in, so I didn’t know he had done that until I turned on the rough cut at home in my apartment and I saw him put the bread down his pants. I could not believe what I saw. I spit out my drink and I called him immediately and cursed him out.
@_pinklady86 wants to know: Who does your eyebrows because they’re always on point.
I have a lovely Indian woman a block away, who has her own store and she threads my eyebrows. She’s lovely.
@Jess_Grier wants to know: Would you rather live through a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?
Oh, I’d go alien invasion just because of the wow-factor! Oh my god, yeah! You know what I saw last night was 10 Cloverfield Lane. It is so damn good. Holy cow! John Goodman was so damn good in it, he should win an award and, of course, J.J. Abrams produced it. It’s so good, so good. I don’t want to ruin too much, but with the name Cloverfield, you can assume there is some paranormal, alien activity involved. I would say alien invasion trumps zombies any day. Come on!
Several people want to know where the ferret thing came from. Can you explain?
Here’s where it came from: Ferrets are extremely adorable. They are playful, loyal, loving and they care for their friends. Sometimes they smell bad, but not always. Did you know that if a ferret doesn’t have sex it could die? It needs to be constantly having sex to survive. All those similarities to me is why the guys started calling me a ferret. Also, I think, if you look a picture of a ferret, it looks like we have the same hairline, basically. If you look at a photo of a ferret with my giant forehead you be like, “Oh, I see the resemblance.” I think it’s mostly because they’re adorable, I’m adorable; they need sex, you know.
@sisko1972 would like to know: Who would win in a pillow fight between you all?
Interesting question. Well, let’s see. Joe probably – no, no, no! I’m changing my answer. Joe would lose steam so quickly. Actually, all of three of them would lose steam, they’re not athletes, look at them! They could take a couple of swings and have good force behind it but, you know, between the three of them they are several hundred pounds overweight. I’m the only one in good shape, I’d outlast them. I’d win simply by outlasting them physically. That’s it. A pillow fight is not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how long you can go – story of my relationships and personal life. I think I would win a pillow fight out of sheer endurance. And, I’m so tiny, I’m hard to hit. I sneak around.