Cheerful stupidity can be harder to master than it looks, which is about as strong an endorsement as there is for “Impractical Jokers,” TruTV’s latest stab at attracting the predominantly male “Jackass” crowd with utterly juvenile comedy. In a twist on a hidden-camera show, four guys try to top each other with ridiculous challenges, taking turns feeding one of the suffering pals outlandish things to say and do, then watching the silliness that ensues. If it’s not exactly festive, it is fitfully merry.
Each member of the quartet — Brian “Q” Quinn, James “Murr” Murray, Joe Gatto and Sal Vulcano, a comedy troupe known as the Tenderloins — is alternately placed in a mundane setting, and the others, using a hidden earpiece, see what they can force him to do while he interacts with understandably baffled strangers and bystanders.
In one sequence, they try to get passers-by to sign bizarre petitions, such as one “to allow whites in the military” or for the “Public restroom masturbation act.” In others, they take turns behaving like morons while manning the counter at White Castle or a big-box store.
It is, essentially, “Candid Camera,” if Allen Funt were replaced by four immature frat boys. Fortunately, most of the gags — the notable exception being the last one, which involves fresh dog poop — are harmless enough, or at least the dudes are lucky not to encounter anyone who hauls off and slugs them.
There is something infectious, too, in how much the four players appear to be enjoying themselves, howling like lunatics at their friends’ discomfort.
Nobody will ever confuse “Impractical Jokers” with high art, certainly, but as low-brow, micro-cost comedy in the context of TruTV’s programming resources, it’s actually quite practical — and occasionally funny.
Next time, though, please hold (or rather, don’t hold) the poop.