Issue 117: Basketball on The Impractical Jokers

One of my favorite shows on TV right now is Impractical Jokers. If you haven’t seen it, the concept is pretty simple: four lifelong friends participate in challenges where they compete to embarrass each other.

This usually takes the format of one of the Jokers being out in the “field” and having to say or do ridiculous things in front of strangers. But sometimes it devolves into giving bizarre presentations or pitching outlandish TV shows, like Here, Have a Horse, or reacting poorly to barely upsetting news and then asking strangers if they perhaps overreacted.

If a Joker fails one of these challenges, they get a thumbs down. The person (or people) with the most thumbs down at the end of the show has to participate in a punishment.

With nine seasons and counting in the books, the show has sometimes dipped its toe into basketball. Here’s a look at the Impractical Jokers trying their hand at hoops.

An interview with the Atlanta Hawks

After the show saw quite a bit of success — go ahead and look at TruTV’s programming schedule and you’ll see about half of the hours of the day devoted to Impractical Jokers — the Jokers had enough momentum to make an entire movie.

The movie came out just before the start of the pandemic last year, and, despite being a big fan of the show, I finally only watched the movie a couple of months ago.

The plot of said movie is…flimsy, at best, with Paula Abdul randomly holding a multi-decade grudge against these four dopes from Long Island. Really, the movie is just a longer version of the show. But that’s okay, because we get moments like this.

Joe scores an interview with the Atlanta Hawks and immediately outs himself as a potential red flag. He also pulls off what I’ve always wanted to do during an interview: hoist up half court shots.

Miss and a Swing

Typically, I don’t enjoy the punishments on Impractical Jokers as much as I do the challenges. They’re usually not as funny and can sometimes be downright horrifying. Alas, this is a newsletter about basketball, and this is a basketball-related punishment, so here we go.

In the early days of the show, they were still finding their footing with punishments, so you’ll get something kinda dumb like this. A fifth-grader with a foam baseball bat stands guard as two of the Jokers shoot three-pointers. One make ends the punishment, but each miss results in a whack to the shin.

Perhaps the most impressive thing here is that Q comes closest to making a shot with the underhanded, “Granny” style. Hey, Rick Barry perfected that style for a reason — it works.

A drumline that would make Nick Cannon proud

Joe is the hardest Joker to punish because he lacks any kind of shame. It’s a trait I would love to embody, though I still regularly find myself embarrassed and socially aware of my surroundings in uncomfortable situations.

Perhaps you’re the same way and the thought of, say, performing in a drum line in front of thousands of people during halftime of a basketball game is…daunting, to say the least.

But maybe this video will inspire you to be a bit more carefree. By the end of this challenge, Joe is having more fun than anyone out there, despite his incredible lack of rhythm or ability.

Cranjis McBasketball

This one probably shouldn’t count, since it doesn’t actually involve any basketball. But the first season of Episode 5 introduced a name that led to one of the funniest games on the show.

In this clip, Sal is looking to find a made-up person called Cranjis McBasketball amongst a group of people in a waiting room.

Sal doesn’t find Cranjis, but this ridiculous name became the foundation for a future challenge where the Jokers pose as receptionists at a focus group study and have to read a list of outrageous monikers. Every time they laugh, they get a point. Whoever has the most points at the end loses.

I personally find this challenge more entertaining than the clip with Cranjis, so it’s a good way to wrap this email up.

As a bonus, you can use any of these aliases whenever you have to use a fake name for something. I like putting in a dinner reservation for two for Jerry Seinfeld and Wasda Dealwifkramer.