For almost a decade, the truTV staple Impractical Jokers has brought side-splitting laughs in the form of outrageous hidden-camera gags and improvisational comedy. If you’re not already familiar with the show, it stars Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn, and Sal Vulcano—a quartet known as The Tenderloins. The premise is simple: members of the group are thrown into public situations with hidden earpieces, and the remaining jokers feed them unexpected lines to repeat out loud. Should they refuse, they must suffer a cruel and unusual form of punishment at the end of the episode.
Over eight seasons, cast member Sal Vulcano has paid his share of penalties. We’ve rated the 15 most hilarious punishments he’s endured over the years. Check them out and then see if he can top them during Impractical Jokers‘ ninth season, which premiered in February.
Sal Vulcano Is A Cast Member On Impractical Jokers
Sal Vulcano, 44, is one-quarter of the New York-based comedy troupe The Tenderloins. The group—made up of high school buddies Vulcano, Joe Gatto, James Murray, and Brian Quinn—first formed in 1999, but didn’t hit its stride until the rise of social media. The Tenderloins’ sketches received millions of views on YouTube and MySpace, and in 2011, truTV picked up their series Impractical Jokers. The show has been so successful that it spawned a feature-length film and dozens of special episodes. The group also stars in the TBS game show The Misery Index with host Jameela Jamil.
Those who recognize Sal often look to see if he’s with his silly sidekicks. But the four are not inseparable. In December 2020, Sal launched Hey Babe!, a podcast with comedian Chris Distefano. He also earns laughs as a solo stand-up comedian.
“It’s refreshing to… have complete creative control over something,” Vulcano told Vanyaland in 2019. “With the guys, the show is written out, and we do rehearsals almost like a play or production, but with stand-up, the process is completely different. It’s just me grinding out three, four, or sometimes five times a night in New York, just trying to refine and rewrite jokes on my own, and that’s a lot of fun. It’s almost like a creative outlet that I absolutely need in order to get my stuff out of my head, and onto the page and ultimately to an audience.
“All of that [outside of stand-up] is all fun and good, but just like every other comedian, this is something I’m going to be doing until the day I die,” he added.
Punishments Are A Core Part Of Impractical Jokers
Over the seasons, punishments on Impractical Jokers have increased in severity. But hey, that’s the price the guys have to pay when they fail to complete their hidden camera missions.
Unfortunately, poor Sal is an easy target. As a germaphobe with a fear of heights and cats, he often faces the most awful consequences of the four.
We’ve ranked Sal’s top 15 punishments. Watch and laugh (in some cases, crying is also appropriate).
15. “You’re Cut Off”
Viewers are quick to catch on to the fact that Sal is afraid of confrontation. So in Season 5, Episode 2, when he’s sent to manage a table at a craft beer festival, he isn’t there to hand out samples. Instead, he’s ordered to cut off attendees and accuse them of being drunk. Watch him literally sweat as he denies paying customers access to their beer.
14. “Enter The Dragons”
In Season 2, Episode 23, Sal and Joe face their punishment together in front of an audience of 14,000. The two are thrown on stage at an Imagine Dragons concert and are forced to pretend they’re the opening act (even though neither knows how to play an instrument). See how Sal manages to improvise lyrics to “Look Mommy I’m A Rockstar” and “Shut Your Face Grandma”—ridiculous song titles that are made up on the spot by Q and Murr.
13. “Sal’s Escape Room”
Sal loses two challenges on Season 4, Episode 17, and as punishment, the guys order him to pee his pants while locked in an escape room with complete strangers. To make matters worse, he’s assigned to the be the group’s leader. Check out their faces as he tries to lead the challenge in urine-stained khakis.
12. “The Book Is Blank”
Sal must pose as an author at a book club meeting in Season 1, Episode 5. The catch? Neither he nor the audience knows the title of the book he’s written. Even worse, he discovers blank pages and must come up with material on the spot.
11. “Water Torture”
We don’t know if Sal has plans to be a dad, but Season 5, Episode 17 is proof that he may need parenting classes first. In it, the guys plans to film a challenge involving the help of a child actor. But things take a turn when Joe, Q, and Murr instruct the child to keep flubbing his part while shooting with Sal. This irritates Sal to no end—his reaction is a must-see.
10. “Indecent Proposal”
In what is possibly the most cringe-worthy (and legally questionable) of all punishments, Season 7, Episode 5 sees Sal play the part of a dance instructor in a couples class. His mission is to make his way around the studio and offer couples money in exchange for a romantic tryst. It’s akin to the film Indecent Proposal, only Sal is no Robert Redford.
9. “Married – In – Loss”
Impractical Jokers is a family affair. Parents and siblings occasionally pop up to make challenges and punishments that much worse. In the Season 3 finale, Sal is blindfolded and whisked off to a mystery location. Upon arrival, he learns—much to his chagrin—that his sister Jenna is about to marry Murr in a surprise wedding ceremony. The nuptials were annulled the following day, but that didn’t stop Sal from almost having a breakdown at the actual event.
8. “Butterfly Crime Scene”
Sal was thrown right into the deep end when he was the loser of Season 1, Episode 2. Punishment required him to make up song lyrics in front of a large crowd at a minor league baseball game. But when he hears the song title announced on the speakers, he needs clarification.
“Butterfly what?” he asks a crew member who hands him a mic.
“Crime Scene,” the staffer tells him. (“Oh my God,” he replies, mortified.)
This being an early episode, Sal’s genuine embarrassment comes through on screen. Watch as he unleashes his inner songwriter/poet under extreme duress.
7. “Cards Against Humanity”
Sal is put in an awkward position at a networking event in Season 7, Episode 11. His punishment is to make the rounds with only one business card on hand. With each new person he meets, he must return to the previous acquaintance and ask for the card back. It’s not exactly the type of behavior that helps establish lasting relationships.
6. “Whose Phone Is Ringing?”
In Season 5, Episode 11, Sal commits the worst faux pas of the modern age: failing to turn off his cell phone at a public event. Watch him squirm in his seat as his obnoxious ring tone blasts through the room during a book reading. It doesn’t end there, either—Sal gets on stage and reads his own excerpt when the phone rings again. “This is the worst day of my life,” he mumbles into the mic.
5. “Blind Justice”
Sal’s punishment in Season 4, Episode 18 brings Scared Straight to the retirement home. Dressed in a prison uniform and blackout glasses, he’s expected to act like a hardened criminal in front of at-risk youth. What he doesn’t know is that he’d led into into a room full of senior citizens. See how he rolls with the punches when the glasses come off.
4. “Sound EfeXXX”
Poor Sal is made to look like a perv in Season 2 Episode 7 when the guys send him into a crowded coffee shop with a laptop and speakers. They proceed to play pornographic audio for the customers to hear, and he can’t lower the volume. Watch Sal, a former Catholic school boy, sink into his chair with shame while a nearby nun expresses shock at the sounds.
After losing two challenges in Season 3, Episode 6, Sal must make a wedding speech written by his fellow jokers. Although the bride and groom are fans of the show, some of their unsuspecting guests are offended and left wondering if they should pull the plug on his address.
In Season 3, Episode 30, Sal draws the ire of many senior citizens (again) during a good old fashioned game of Bingo. The thing is, this isn’t a small game at a local hall, but an event at a major casino, where players are dead serious. The guys make him shout “Bingo!” over and over again, even though he hasn’t actually won. Sal receives jeers and even threats of violence over his disruptive behavior.
1. “The Permanent Punishment”
Season 3, Episode 26 brings a punishment that Sal, Q, and Murr will never forget. Joe is the only winner in this episode, and his prize is to pick terrible tattoos for his three buddies. After Q and Murr discover what Joe picked for them (a cat and ferret, respectively), Sal tears off a gauze covering to reveal a portrait of Jaden Smith on his left thigh.
“Why doesn’t he have Willow and he has Jada?” Sal screamed at Joe, pointing to Q and Murr. “Why didn’t you just give us all the Smiths?”
Sal was enraged, but it looks like he eventually got over it. In 2019, he posted a pic of the ink to wish Jaden a happy birthday. “I think of you every day, but today a little more,” he wrote in the caption.