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The Best And Worst Impractical Jokers Punishment Ever

New York City based improv comedy troupe the Tenderloins have been embarrassing each other for our viewing pleasure on their TruTV show Impractical Jokers since 2011. Longtime fans and newcomers drawn in by Impractical Jokers: The Movie know that the pranks the guys pull on unsuspecting members of the public are usually pretty solid, but it's the outrageous punishments they devise for the least successful prankster that really put the show into laughing-so-hard-you're-crying territory.

Of course, comedy is subjective, and everyone's list of the best and worst punishments the fellas have subjected each other to is going to be a little bit different. But the fact that Murr, Sal, Joe, and Q are such good friends makes it easier to separate the truly hysterical bits from the ones that flop. The show is at its best when the guys pick punishments for one another that they know will push the victim's buttons in a particular way. On the flip side, the ones that fall flat come off like cliche prank show bits that could have been rejects from Jackass.

The best Impractical Jokers punishments

In terms of pure cringe factor, it's hard to top the punishment doled out to Sal in season three Impractical Jokers episode "B-I-N-G-O." The boys set him up in a crowded bingo hall with one objective: call out fake bingo wins until he's removed by security, or attacked by the crowd of angry seniors, whichever came first.

This one is so legendary because it hits on multiple levels. Watching Sal turn red every time he calls "Bingo!" would have been funny enough, but the crowd's reaction put this punishment into the top tier. Anyone who has been to a bingo hall knows how seriously the players take the game, and by the third or fourth false bingo, the crowd was reacting to Sal like spectators at the Roman Colosseum calling for blood.

Another Sal gem comes from season two's "Scaredy Cat." For most of us, getting smothered by cute felines sounds like a dream come true, but Sal's fear of kitties made being chained down in a box and covered with cats feel like a Saw torture. After the punishment was announced, he even declared that he would rather be covered in tarantulas.

What made this bit work so well was Sal's outsized reactions. Other than one who took a seat on his chest, the cats themselves didn't do anything other than prance around — but Sal behaved as though the animal handlers were dropping pit vipers or scorpions on him instead of kittens.

Special mention for Murr's skydiving adventure

Poor, poor Murr. Anyone who has even a slight phobia of heights probably gets a little flush thinking about skydiving, so when his buddies told him that for his punishment in the season 3 premiere "Look Out Below," he'd be getting dropped out of an airplane, his reaction was unsurprisingly intense. There were  threats, attempts to flee, and eventually tears as the plane the guys were in climbed to 12,000 feet.

When he finally jumped, it was shrieking all the way down. Watching someone face one of their biggest fears may not seem like the stuff of comedy gold, but it's hard to deny that there's bound to be a lot of shocked and nervous laughter watching it play out on TV. And in a weird way, when he landed safely on the ground, it was also kind of sweet to have witnessed someone doing something that just an hour ago seemed impossible to them. This one achieved the rare feat of being a beautiful TV moment, and also wildly funny.

The Impractical Joker punishments that were duds

It's not entirely clear where things went wrong in season 3 episode "Snow Way Out," but the punishment faced by Murr and Sal feels like a stale bit from a straight to VOD comedy. The two were loaded into a ski lift that stops midway up the mountain, at which point Joe and Q arrived to pelt them with snow and paintballs. The clearest sign that this punishment idea was a major stretch were the interludes of the stranded duo fighting over Kit Kat bars and who got to wear the warmest hat. They felt like forced moments to try and pad out a concept that just didn't work.

Similarly, Sal's punishment in season six's "Flat Foot the Pirate" fell, well, flat. The setup — Sal had to perform a skit as a pirate for a boat full of kids — already didn't exactly scream hilarity, but the curveballs the gang threw at him were equally lame. Sal was kept in the dark about the content of the skit until reading his lines off cards handed to him in real time, and eventually got to one that instructed him to do a toast with the kiddies, who all had  mugs of "rum," while he would be drinking... human breast milk? 

This both made zero sense thematically, and really wasn't that gross, all things considered. Sal's gagging reaction to the milk felt forced and immature, and when Murr finally pushds him off the plank into some murky New Jersey marina water, it just felt like a relief.