Impractical Jokers season 9 returned for its second half this week, and it was an episode that ended up being completely different from what fans of the TruTV series are used to. It’s up to the audience to decide if that deviation from formula was great or left them wanting more. But here’s how the scores were tallied for the midseason premiere, entitled “Breaking Wind Beneath My Wings.”
Challenge 1: Pitch Imperfect
The Jokers are going head-to-head with more terrible TV show ideas. It’s Joe versus Q in the first half, and Joe goes off the rails early with Quack Addicts which somehow combines the opioid crisis and more than a half-dozen ducks. Q follows that up with Law & Order: SUV, which is what a lot of people mistakenly call that show anyway. Remember that the guys made up ideas for each other, so Joe might not have gone hard enough here. That hands Q a victory that’s not all that surprising.
Next up are Murr and Prince Herb, with the former leading off when he suggests a show teaming up Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk and Star Wars‘ Darth Vader. Murr leans into the joke by intentionally getting the two franchises confused as much as he can. At least that makes some sort of sense, though, compared to Prince Herb’s ideas that are just absurd and not in the entertaining way. By the time he gets to his third pitch he’s lost it and doesn’t even wait for the vote.
But the focus group members kind of steal this challenge. April somehow becomes the center of everyone’s attention. As Prince Herb points out, “I think she gave us a new slogan for season 9: Why?” Not long after that she and another woman get into a back-and-forth over wanting to know what happens to a penis.
Losers: Joe, Prince Herb
Winner: April, for getting everyone to care about her opinion without even trying
Challenge 2: Focus Group Faceoff
“I’m telling you, the winner is bullshit,” Q declares in the intro before everyone competes to see who can get people to sign up for their focus groups. This challenge is harder to follow than the average Impractical Jokers focus group bit, because the guys have to keep going in and out of the room to poll different people, and the terrible focus group they’re pitching changes every time. It would have been better if it was simplified, but then it might also have seemed too similar to the last challenge.
For the first go-around Murr wants people to be soaking wet; Q wants them to donate a vomit sample. Elsewhere, Joe has do-it-yourself acupuncture and Prince Herb is testing a new kind of tampon. And it just gets worse from there, including monkey-made products and aggressive bees. One can understand what Q is getting at when the last woman decides she’ll take the bees over his chocolate-tasting group. Also, that makes this the first episode in a while that hasn’t included a regular “refuse you lose” challenge.
Losers: Joe, Q, Murr
Winner: Prince Herb, and Q’s right, that victory is completely ridiculous
Joe spells the whole thing out off the top, declaring himself the loser and saying he has to sing Bette Midler’s power ballad “Wind Beneath My Wings” to a massive Zoom audience. This isn’t a typical punishment either, because it’s explained that really he’s doing this because people donated to the Mariano Rivera Foundation. So comparatively speaking this isn’t a terrible episode to lose.
It will surprise no one that Joe is completely tone-deaf but like everything, he throws himself into this without any hesitation. While this will never get an iTunes release, it’s still better than a lot of American Idol auditions. Some of the audience and the rest of the Jokers get into it after the first verse, making this more fun than a moment of humiliation. It’s capped off by Joe going full ham at the end just to make everyone else laugh. Not that we’d expect anything less from Joe Gatto.
Side note: The closing credits of this episode have Prince Herb still listed as “Sal Vulcano.” Was that a mistake, or is there some legal reason the show only changed the opening?
Impractical Jokers airs Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on TruTV.
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