“I got a selfie with Joe!”

A boy no older than 12 strolled through South Street Seaport in New York City holding his cellphone aloft, showing strangers his favorite new photo. The youngster wanted everyone, no matter their age, race or occupation, to know he took a selfie with “Joe.”

“Impractical Jokers” has something for everyone.

The “Joe” in question is Joe Gatto, one of the stars of TruTV’s “Impractical Jokers,” which celebrated its 100th episode with a live special in New York City last Thursday. “Impractical Jokers” is a reality show that features Gatto, along with longtime friends Sal Vulcano, James “Murr” Murray and Brian “Q” Quinn, all from Staten Island,  as they compete in stunts and skits in an all-out effort to embarrass each other. The pride this youngster and the show’s legions of other fans have in the guys speaks volumes about the show’s broad and growing appeal.

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This isn’t gross-out television a la “Jackass” or “prank” videos that you see daily all over the Internet. The high jinks of the four guys range from clipping balloons to the unsuspecting shirts and carts of grocery store shoppers to teaching a labor and delivery class with materials prepared by the other guys. Audiences young and old share laughs as the show brings families together by highlighting the friendship of all four Jokers.

“We hear all the time, ‘Oh, I have a friend just like Sal’ or ‘I have a friend just like Q.'”

“The show really is first and foremost about our friendship. It’s like friendship on display,” Gatto told LifeZette. “I think a lot of people either have friends like us or the relationship we have with each other. We hear all the time, ‘Oh, I have a friend just like Sal’ or ‘I have a friend just like Q.’ People always say that, and I think that’s what has really helped the show, that people can really relate to us.”

Crafting a show that can touch families genuinely while maintaining a cool factor with key demographics is never easy. “Impractical Jokers” succeeds in this arena, grabbing 1.7 million total viewers weekly. That ranks as one of ad-supported cable’s top 5 shows in its time slot among adults 18-49 and men 18-34. The infectious laughs the show delivers cross gender lines as well, with “Jokers” rating in the top 10 in its time slot among women ages 18-49 and 18-34.

The infectious laughs the show delivers cross gender lines, with “Jokers” rating in the top 10 in its time slot among women ages 18-49 and 18-34.

“Impractical Jokers” has something for everyone. While the guys early on set out to reach the biggest audience possible (they first performed together as a comedy troupe back in 1999), it was hard to imagine the success they’ve earned today.

“We set out to make the show relatable but never really thought that people would take to it this much,” Vulcano told Lifezette. “One of the cool things is families watch together and we throw in some jokes that aren’t for kids, but it kind of goes over their heads, and then we throw in some sophomoric stuff for the kids. We have a little something for everyone.”

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That variety is what draws smiles across generations.

“What we hear the most — what’s the biggest honor — is that families come together to watch it together. We never expected that and that is the coolest thing,” Vulcano said.

A Straight Look at the ‘Impractical Jokers’:

  • Reality series premiered in Dec. 2011.
  • Four friends prank each other on camera in front of strangers, earning a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” after their performance.
  • Filmed mainly in New York and New Jersey.
  • Linda Stasi of the New York Post called the show “possibly the funniest, most ridiculous show I’ve seen in years.”
  • Neil Genzlinger of the New York Times said “the gag pays off twice: once in the reaction of the unsuspecting passer-by, once in the discomfort of the fellow doing the asking.” He also said the four friends’ “occasional integrity” kept these guys “a little bit lovable.”