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What Sal Vulcano was doing before Impractical Jokers took off

Sal Vulcano is one quarter of The Tenderloins, the comedy troupe at the heart of the truTV show Impractical Jokers, which has been on air since 2011. On the series, Vulcano and his longtime friends James Murray, Joe Gatto, and Brian Quinn each must take from one another practical joke challenges to perform in public, lest they earn a thumbs down. Examples include crafting ludicrous methods to cut in long lines for tickets, trying to get unwitting customers to donate money to fake charities with increasingly uncouth tag-lines, and being fed lines by another Impractical Joker via earpieces — random non-sequiturs all the way up to outright insults — to repeat back to random strangers in an established scenario. Whomever has either failed or refused to take the most challenges and thus has the most thumbs down by the end of the challenges will be made to perform a humiliating or dangerous punishment

The gang's friendship must indeed be ironclad for them to remain pals after semi-torturing each other for eight years (and counting), but where exactly did Sal Vulcano come from to claim friendships good enough to deface on broadcast television? Here's what he was doing before Impractical Jokers took off.

Sal Vulcano was seemingly destined for comedy stardom from adolescence

Born in 1976 in Staten Island, New York, Salvatore "Sal" Vulcano is the only brother to three sisters Kelly Ann, Diane, and Jenna (who has appeared on a few episodes of Impractical Jokers and even married Murray as a prank). His parents – Sal Vulcano Sr. and Dianne Fernandez-Vulcano – divorced when he was very young. Between them, Vulcano has Italian, Cuban, and Puerto Rican roots. 

We suspect his childhood was relatively normal, but Vulcano's fate as a comedian began to take shape when he was a teenager in the 1990s, when he began attending the private Monsignor Farrell High School in 1994. There, Vulcano participated in several sports, was a member of the chess club, and in his junior year joined the school's improv club, where he met the other three men that would in adulthood become his best friends and costars. Unlike the reputation they create today on-screen, Vulcano and the eventual Impractical Jokers boys were remembered as being very respectful young men in high school — a fact they often bring up themselves as a reason why they never perform pranks too out-of-line and turn down each other's dares on the show.

Sal Vulcano's post-high school business and side hustles

Between 2010 and 2014, Sal Vulcano put his background as a bartender and his finance degree from St. John's University to actual use as business manager for a bar called The Full Cup, a well-known music and comedy venue in his hometown of Staten Island that had gone through several sets of ownership in its long local history. Vulcano even took an interview there once Impractical Jokers catapulted him to the national spotlight. He sold his partial stake in The Full Cup in 2014, and sadly the business soon after struggled to survive, rebranded as the Hashtag Bar in 2016, and ultimately closed later that same year under a pile of code violations and resultant fines.

Along with that work, Vulcano assisted friend and fellow Staten Island local Jay Miller with writing for his longtime local-access comedy talk show Midevenings with Jay Miller – a Staten Island entertainment institution that gives local musicians and other talent a platform, David Letterman-style. The two got on so well creatively that Sal asked Jay to join Impractical Jokers as a producer in 2013, where he balanced between that work and continuing Midevenings through 2017.

Honing the craft borne of friendship for Impractical Jokers

Before landing the lucrative television deal that became Impractical Jokers, Sal Vulcano, James Murray, Joe Gatto, and Brian Quinn toured and performed live shows as the professional comedy quartet The Tenderloins. They also self-produced sketch comedy content for a number of years during the early days of YouTube, under a channel appropriately called The Tenderloins. The channel is still active, and many of their oldest videos are available to watch if you've got a free afternoon to dive into a decade's worth of memories. That sketch comedy work got them significant attention — first in the form of a failed scripted comedy pilot for SpikeTV and then the television deal with truTV for the series that became Impractical Jokers. With all the previous material available online and their professional background touring, they were given particularly generous creative control (especially since this was their first official television foray) as executive producers.

If the best improv is fostered through a sense of trust, Vulcano and the Impractical Jokers boys certainly have it in spades purely from time and experience. With trust comes the understanding that when conflict comes, they can manage it between each other. "Of course we fight from time to time," Vulcano explained in a Reddit AMA, "But we are so used to it, it's never personal." If that isn't an ultimate statement of the joy of friendship, we aren't sure what is, honestly. It must have been fate for the four of them to spend their mortal lives doing this to each other, and it couldn't be more charming to watch.