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Joe Gatto brings his prank-fueled comedy to Old Cabell Hall

The “Impractical Jokers” star’s performance was a treat for fans of the show

<p>In line with the “Impractical Jokers” style of comedy that revolves around playing jokes on strangers, Gatto made sure to interact with the crowd right from the start.</p>

In line with the “Impractical Jokers” style of comedy that revolves around playing jokes on strangers, Gatto made sure to interact with the crowd right from the start.

The University Programs Council hosted a comedy show, entitled Joe Fest, in Old Cabell Hall Sunday night. Former “Impractical Jokers” star Joe Gatto’s performance was filled with references to his time on the show, making it an especially memorable experience for longtime fans of his work. With the perfect mix of physical comedy, storytelling and improvisation, Gatto brought the same “Joe” millions fell in love with on TV to the University. 

Before the show started, the energy in the building was already palpable. Tickets were sold out for the highly anticipated show, and attendees could be heard expressing their excitement to one another as they waited in the Old Cabell Hall auditorium. UPC members passed out bright red and green bucket hats, which remained on heads scattered throughout the packed auditorium for the duration of the set.  

Gatto is best known for his 10-year stint on the truTV hidden camera comedy series “Impractical Jokers,” a show best described by its introductory narration — “Scenes of graphic stupidity in which four lifelong friends compete to embarrass each other.” In each episode, the joker who fails to complete the dares given to them by the others must undergo a punishment, usually involving public embarrassment. After departing from the group in 2021, Gatto has since been touring as a stand-up comedian and hosting the podcast “Two Cool Moms” with comedian Steve Byrne. 

Fellow New York City comedian Mark “Jiggy” Jigarjian — who has toured with Gatto since 2022 —  opened for Gatto with a hit-or-miss routine. Jigarjian ran through some jokes tailor-made for University students with mixed success, taking jabs at Virginia Tech and the Charlottesville Area Transit bus. He also ran through more bits about Joe Biden’s age and the difficulties of having an Armenian last name, all the while dapping up the same student after every other joke. After about 20 minutes of scattered laughs, Jigarjian left the stage and thanked the crowd as anticipation for the main attraction grew. 

Shortly after, Old Cabell Hall got to their feet and roared in applause as Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement” played from the speakers. Gatto walked onstage and talked briefly about visiting the University for the first time before launching into his own anecdotes from his time in college, sharing a hilarious story about almost running over a crowd of visiting children as the mascot for the Long Island University Post Pioneers.

In line with the “Impractical Jokers” style of comedy that revolves around playing jokes on strangers, Gatto made sure to interact with the crowd right from the start. He talked about being an orientation leader and asked any current orientation leaders to come onstage. Later in the show, Gatto asked the crowd, “do we have any ‘Impractical Jokers’ fans here?” resulting in cheers from a vast majority of the crowd. 

For a long stretch of the show, Gatto told stories from his comedy career, mostly as a member of the sketch comedy group the Tenderloins and later the Impractical Jokers. After he mentioned fellow Joker Sal Vulcano, a student raised a tapestry depicting a much-memed image of Vulcano’s face, leading Gatto to comment on his playful friendship with Vulcano. 

“It’s so fun to mess with him because he makes it so easy,” Gatto said. 

Gatto shared that just telling stories about messing with Vulcano would be a nine and a half hour show, but the ones he did share were hilarious nonetheless — they included exploiting Vulcano’s extreme germophobia along with signing him up for every mailing list he came across. 

Although there was no Q&A, Gatto also answered some of what he said were the most commonly asked questions about his time on “Impractical Jokers.” His pick for the worst punishment was when he was forced to take baseballs from kids and tell them to buy the same one on eBay. His favorite, on the other hand, was when he performed as a flying genie in a community theater production — a sketch in which Gatto’s body was put on display, a common theme across some of his other most iconic punishments.

“I love using my body as a comedic weapon,” Gatto said.

While Gatto was not afraid to make self-deprecating jokes at every turn, he also took the audience into aspects of his personal life. Gatto passionately talked about his non-profit, Gatto Pups & Friends, which gives a home to senior and unwanted dogs. He also shared stories about bonding with his 6-year-old son over a shared love of pranks.

With this combination of sincerity and hilarity, Gatto offered the audience in Old Cabell Hall an unforgettable performance. The Staten Island native brought his signature brand of humor and penchant for putting himself and others into uncomfortable situations to the University for a night of jokes that were anything but practical. In a sentence, Gatto was able to sum up what has made him such a fan favorite with audiences throughout his career.

“I always take it seriously to mess with people,” Gatto said.

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