When it comes to pranking, TruTV's Impractical Jokers are the real MVPs. The series finds the four lifelong buddies -- Sal Vulcano, Joe Gatto, James "Murr" Murray, and Brian "Q" Quinn -- go to insane lengths to not only make their BFFs look like fools in public, but also punish them in bizarre yet hilarious ways.
With April 1 revered as April Fool's Day, Billboard hopped on the phone with Q to discuss the best prank to pull on the music fan in your life (Warning: There's some Hanson and Smash Mouth involved.) He also discusses Sal's Jaden Smith tattoo [Joe punished Sal, Q and Murr with permanent tattoos of his choice on a 2014 episode], his friendship with *NSYNC's Joey Fatone, and his love for Wu-Tang Clan and Taylor Swift.
Whose idea was it to punish Sal with a Jaden Smith tattoo -- and why Jaden Smith of all the people?
I think the answer's in the question. I don't know a more bizarre tattoo that a man in his late 30s, early 40s could have than an almost life-size, accurate Jaden Smith tattoo, so I think that's what Joe was going for.
So no one in the crew is a hardcore Jaden Smith fan?
I think the world at large is a Jaden Smith fanatic.
Fair point. As a Staten Island native, I noticed that you put "Shaolin" in your Twitter bio. Are you into Wu-Tang Clan?
Oh my god, Sal and I -- I mean "obsessed" is more of a word. We're huge Wu fans, we've seen them dozens of times. We grew up on Staten Island, so when [Wu-Tang Clan] hit, the '90s was my decade of growth. I started high school in 1990 and I would see the guys on the island. I still see Meth [Method Man] on the island from time to time. Before they even got picked up and signed to a label, they sold "Protect Ya Neck" on vinyl at their shows, like that they just made on their own, and I have one that I had gotten back then.
They're the best. [Their 1993 debut, Enter The Wu-Tang] 36 Chambers, specifically, is just life-changing to me. It put me in a way that I don't think you could do today. I think the way the climate is going right now, I don't know if that album would get made. I don't know if a 14, 15-year-old white kid could get into it like I got into it back then. That album was just breathtaking.
Have you ever tried to secure Method Man, RZA or any Wu-Tang member on Impractical Jokers?
We've become friendly with Meth. I'll text him from time to time and he said he'd be on, but Meth's a busy guy -- he keeps working. So hopefully he'll eventually be on the show. He said he'd be willing to do it. We had his nephew actually, U-God's son on. There was a bit where the four of us are walking down the street and we replaced Murray with a young, black kid -- and we don't even mention it. We just do the bit as if Murray's there.
Former *NSYNCer Joey Fatone has also been on the show. You tagged him in to take on your challenge. How did you two become friends?
Sal and I occasionally do a podcast together called What Say You? and on it, he makes fun of my tattoo. I have a Superman tattoo. He was actually with me when I got it when I was 24. Sal's funny. When we got it when we were kids, I was like, "I'm gonna get a Superman tattoo," and he's like, "That's a great idea. You should get it." We went and we got it together in New Orleans, and the second the guy was done, Sal was like, "That is the lamest tattoo I've ever seen in my life. What kind of an asshole gets a Superman tattoo?" It was awesome. So we were talking on the podcast one day and he's like three people have Superman tattoos -- Joey Fatone, Shaq and Bon Jovi.
That's great company to be in.
That was my point. I said, "Are you kidding me? You're just making me feel better." By the way, since then, we've gotten to meet Shaq -- he's an amazingly nice guy. Bon Jovi's a fan of the show -- his family has come to set to hang out and watch it. And Fatone's become a friend so Sal could suck it. So we were talking about it on the podcast and somebody on Twitter said, "Hey, Fatone, they're making fun of you" and through that, we kind of bonded. We've met a lot of people doing this show like movie stars, actors and music people, and I gotta say, Fatone has become a true friend. Such a nice guy like you wouldn't even believe what a good guy he is. So I'm happy with my tattoo.
I mean you have to be at this point. It's on your body forever. So when the boy band era was popular, were you an *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys loyalist?
I mean, I probably wasn't going in either direction that strongly, but both of them have undeniable hits that were like the soundtrack to my life. I did buy and listen to *NSYNC's album, especially No Strings Attached. That was a big one that I had. I've always been more of a classic rock type of guy but I never was a hater like, "They suck," or anything like that.
When Impractical Jokers did an interview with Billboard in 2015, you mentioned going to a Bruno Mars concert. What's your take on 24K Magic?
I actually did not go that to Bruno Mars show. I'm the only one who hasn't met Bruno Mars. The other guys have actually hung out with him and gone to his show. I know he's a force. I know he's a great guy and everybody that works with him loves him, but I don't have any personal experience with the guy yet.
According to Twitter, you've seen Maroon 5 plenty of times though. What do you love most about the band?
What I love most about the band is that my buddy, she loves them and she doesn't have a boyfriend, so I will go with her [to the shows]. We're talking about five, six years now that I've been going as a sort of surrogate boyfriend for my friend, Stacey. So there you go -- I guess it's because I love my friends, but I'll tell you what. In the beginning, I was like what is this sh-t and now I know every song and love 'em all. Now I get there, I'll throw up Friday night lights like the rest of the crowd and just rock out. I don't know if they have a fan name but I'm totally it.
At this point I've probably seen @maroon5 more than any other band besides Tom Petty. What am I gonna do? My buddy loves them. https://t.co/J0GsUJRXrh
- Brian Q Quinn (@BQQuinn) March 8, 2017
My music taste -- like I said, I love the Wu-Tang, the Rolling Stones. I like things that are a little bit more of the past era than now, although you won't believe how much I love Taylor Swift.
Please do tell how you became a Swiftie.
It was 1989 that brought me in. I always kind of appreciated it from afar. I'll tell you exactly what happened -- there's a great, great rock band called Monster Magnet and the lead singer is Dave Wyndorf. Wyndorf had said that he will occasionally, for two weeks at a time, listen to nothing but [New York radio station] Z100 and pop music because he doesn't wanna lose touch and he doesn't wanna become the guy that's just like, "All new music sucks," so he would sort of detox from classic music he loves and force himself to listen to new music. I was like, "You know what? That is a good, open-minded idea. I want to try that." So I did it. At the time, they were just playing every song from 1989 every other song, so I was like, let me listen to the album. So I downloaded the album and then it was like let me listen to the album again. Now it's like I know every word to every song and I just pop it in while I'm driving.
I know it's the wrong choice to say, but I really do love "Blank Space." I know it's the big one. I skip "Welcome to New York Now." I'm not as into it anymore, but I would say "Blank Space" still gets me going every time.
Now let's say all four of the Impractical Jokers were in a rap battle. Who would win?
Good question. Murray doesn't even have a shot. Murr might as well not even show up to the stage. I would say probably Sal, then Joe, then me. But I'll be honest, they made me do a rap thing for something that hasn't aired yet and everybody was impressed. Nobody thought I would be able to pull out what I pulled out, so I'm gonna say that I'm the wild card, but it'd probably have to be Joe or Sal.
Did you ever have dreams of being in a band?
You hear my voice, right? I sound like Joe Pesci and Frankenstein had a baby. There was no shot that I was ever going to be in a band -- ever. It was never a possibility for me. You might as well say, "When are you going to space?" It never even occurred to me to even try it. I don't even know what a note is, I can't carry a tune. My voice is horrible so no.
Lastly, it's April Fool's Day. What's the perfect prank to pull on a music fan?
I would go into their iPhone and I would make a playlist, but I think it would backfire. Here's my idea -- you go in there and you put a playlist of the songs that everybody quote-unquote hates but secretly loves. You got your "MMMBop"'s, Harvey Danger "Flagpole Sitta" and Smash Mouth "All Star" on there. It's the songs everyone makes fun of, but when you stop and listen to them, you're like this is pretty f--king awesome even though I can't admit it to anybody. So it might actually be a gift. I would go in there, create that playlist and change all their ringtones to "MMMBop," their text tone to "All Star," stuff like that. That's the way I'd go but I do think, in the end, they'd thank me.
Catch Impractical Jokers all day on TruTV on Saturday, April 1 for an April Fool's Day marathon.