Impractical Jokers: Laughter Is Good Medicine
Joe, Q, and Murr laughed up a storm as they watched Sal in the mall nervously explain his way out of an embarrassing situation to a total stranger. "Look this guy is really cute. He's got a nice smile and he's wearing glasses. Maybe we should go talk to him." Sal bit his lip and his eyebrows were slightly raised. The stranger, who appeared to be a man in his late-50s was utterly confused by Sal approaching him. The three friends laughed some more as they watched Sal grow even more uncomfortable. "Please! He's very cute, he uh-- he has a nice smile and he wears glasses! Please can we have lunch with him?" The stranger looked at Sal in disbelief. "No," he finally replied before walking off. Joe, Q, and Murr all cheered knowing Sal lost the "Get A Stranger to Have Lunch With A Gay Decoy" challenge, making him tonight's big loser.
In the punishment, Sal had to stand outside in the freezing, windy cold in his underwear waiting for someone to come over and give him a lift home. After about 5 minutes passed, Joe, Q, and Murr walked up to Sal holding hands in big fluffy coats. They told him he just missed a stranger who would have gladly given him a ride. All four friends laughed as Sal became very embarrassed, dropping his head down. "Well that was a good one," Joe told him before laughing again. After missing his ride, the guys made Sal hold a sign that said "I am the biggest loser" for 1 hour. Though it was starting to get dark, they continued to make him stand out in the public eye. After that, the episode was over. And I didn't laugh once. Though, my dying grandfather, God Bless him, laughed all the way through. He made several loud coughs before clapping as the credits rolled.
6 months ago he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He is trying to fight this disease with all his strength, but doctor's only give him a 20% of living in the next 5 months. Every day I get off work the first thing I do is visit his hospital room and stay by his bedside for an hour. Although I don't like Impractical Jokers, I will kind of watch it with him, because it is his favorite show. I say "kind of" because most of the time I'm just looking at my phone while it plays. Sometimes Grandpa will look toward me and ask why I'm not laughing. I kinda feel bad, but I just can't stand that type of comedy. It hurts to watch. I kissed my grandfather on the head and walked out of the hospital, ready to go home and take a shower.
On my way home, I thought about something he said. "Laughter is good medicine, son." I want to agree with him, but I'm not a funny type of guy. I'm more in to true crime and the like. It's just hard to get me to laugh when I'm so serious all the time. I payed my grandfather more visits over past week, and sadly, it seems like his condition suddenly worsened. He wasn't laughing at Jokers as much as he used to. And what he said yesterday crushed my soul. "It hurts to laugh." Then on Saturday, my family gave me a call saying grandpa had passed away. This shocked me because the doctors said he still had 5 more months left to live. Another thing that surprised me was his funeral being the very next day. At his request, it was a small one. Just his closest friends and family. The room filled with whimpers and blowing into tissues, but the day progressed, we reminisced on our good memories, which turned the mood more positive and less sad. But I found it strange there wasn't an open casket showing.
When I got home from the funeral, Impractical Jokers was playing on the TV. It was the one where Sal was punished for stealing a cactus from a yard sale. I turned it off, because it wasn't funny and it reminded me too much of my grandfather. He too stole a cactus from a yard sale when he was a child. I feel very sad about his passing, but I need to do something to get my mind off it. And I think I know what. I was checking the email on my laptop. I received in message in all caps "IMPRACTICAL JOKERS PUNISHMENT TOUR - Are you a fan of Impractical Jokers? Have you seen Laaaaarry? If so, then we invite you to the punishment tour! Show up to 345 street at warehouse in Lower Manhattan between the hours of 1pm and 2pm on the above date to witness the punishment that is in store for poor old Laaaaarry! Bring a friend along and they too could be punished! Please reply with interest!"
I stared at the computer screen for a couple minutes, twiddling my thumbs around. You know what, this could be my ticket to laughter. Grandpa would want me to do this and the event is on my birthday too. I don't find the show funny on TV, but it may be funny in person, especially if it's one of my friends getting punished. I called my friend Rosco who was a fan of the show and asked if he wanted to join me this Saturday for the big event. "Sure, dude. As long as I'm not getting punished, I'm in." A grin grew across my face and a slight chuckle exited my lungs. This actually sounds like it could be a lot of fun and might just be the medicine the doctor prescribed. This is for you, grandpa. What could go wrong?
The next day, Me and Rosco pulled up to the warehouse the email said the place was. On the outside was a large metal gate with a roller shut and a small Captain FatBelly graffitied on it in red paint. The building had a small sign above the door that read, "IMPRACTICAL JOKERS PUNISHMENT TOUR - EMPLOYEES ONLY DOOR" We ignored the sign and walked in anyway. It was very dark, appearing to be some kind of small backroom with the smell of old grease and worn carpet in the air. There was a lit fluorescent light bulb swaying from ceiling and what appeared to be a counter with some cabinets on the other side. It was dusty as a mother-effer, which caused me to sneeze. We exited the room and walked down a beige hallway, which lead us to a room called "punishment room." There was a huge cage in the middle with chains with hooks dangling from the ceiling in an eerie way.
"Imagine Sal in there with dozens of cats." Rosco joked while touching up his long brown hair in a bun. Then, a voice from the dark hallway said, "You kids shouldn't be in here!" Which confused me, because me and Rosco were 6 ft. tall guys in our mid-40s. The guy who said this was rather large and appeared to be from the past, his suit was very over-dressed for the 1970s and his mustache made Lou Costello's look like a chrysalis. He moved us along to the "waiting room", which was a blue room with poorly painted drawings of clouds and bushes on the walls. There were 2 other people in the room, both of which I recognized. They were my coworkers! On the left was Jarek, who wore glasses and a messy buzz haircut, and right next to him was overweight woman with a kind face. That was Lizzy. She talks too much.
The room's air felt cool with a hint of some kind of chemical smell. Jarek was laughing to himself watching Impractical Jokers on his phone. "The one where Sal reads the map and gets lost." He said, still laughing to himself. "Oh yeah...that one." Lizzy said. "I thought that was hilarious." Then, a big, 7 ft. tall black guy with ripped muscles that reminded me of a young Mark Lenard turned around a corner and stood there. I suddenly felt nervous and my palms began to sweat profusely. I fidgeted in my seat and looked down at my hands. My fingernails were pretty long and I started biting on them. "Who brought a friend?" the big man with a booming voice that rattled my chest spoke. I paused for a second, then pointed at Rosco. The big man grinned and said "Very well." He grabbed Rosco by the arm in a tight grip and lead him out the room. Now I feel bad for even tagging him a long. What if this is scary and doesn't make me laugh?
A few minutes later, a large television mounted on the wall turned on. It showed Rosco with visibly tight shoulders and a look of uncertainty on his face as he stood in a large, brown, metallic room. A man that looked looked oddly similar to Q then entered the waiting room. He even had a "My name is... Q" tag on his shirt. He handed us all ear pieces then he handed me a microphone and said "Begin," before walking out the room. Well... I guess the show is starting. I wiped sweat from my upper lip with a napkin and cleared my throat. I could see Rosco staring at us from the television. "Go easy on me guys..." he said with his hands in his pocket. "Alright man-bun, take your hand out of your pocket and pick your nose." Rosco groaned with a smile and picked his nose. Hmm, it might take a few tries to crack him.
I sat in Rosco's seat and handed the mic to Lizzy. "Alright Ross, I want you to recreate the punishment where Joe had to eat a cockroach." Lizzy giggled a bit before passing the mic back to me. Rosco had a huge grin on his face and started hopping around. "Nahhh, come on! Really?!" he said while laughing. Lizzy laughed too, while I had a mild smile. Rosco spent the next 8 minutes moving around dusty old boxes and equipment until he finally found a cockroach scurrying on the floor. He chased it down for a few minutes, but he finally managed to pick it up and take a bite out of it. The three of us groaned as we saw this happen. Rosco spit out the leg parts and wiped a piece of antenna from his mouth. Jarek then took over the mic.
"Alright Ross, now I want you to take off all your clothes." "WHAT?!" he shouted. "Do it man, we need to see if you're really afraid," Jarek encouraged through the mic. When Jarek said this, it sounded like he wanted get something "personal" out of it. "You've gotta be kidding me..." Rosco scoffed with his hands over his head. He stood there pacing around with a goofy grin on his face for several minutes. He tried taking his shirt off, but he quickly put it back on. He took his socks off, but put them back on as well. "Nope, haha, can't do it." Rosco said with his hands on his hips and shaking his head. As soon as he did this, a scoreboard from the show appeared on the screen with pictures of all five us on it. A big thumbs down appeared in Rosco's column. "Rosco refused to show some skin, making him first up on the loser board." This is actually cool. I hope he gets punished, that'll give me a good laugh, I hope.
Then another man walked in the challenge room. He looked just like Murr, only his eyebrows were a bit bushier. He was wearing a blue t-shirt with white text that read "LIKE A BOSS!" He looked at his clipboard then said "Lizzy, Jarek, both of you are up!" Lizzy and Jarek walked off and within minutes they appeared on the television in the same challenge room. It was just me telling them what to do now. An evil grin spread across my face. I have a dastardly idea. "Alright you two, exchange phones." Lizzy and Jarek groaned, then exchanged phones. "Alright, now go to the contact list and delete every single one that starts with a 'J'. " What?! Delete all of our friends?!" Lizzy and Jarek were about to protest, but I stopped them. "Do it or both of you get punished!" I said with glee. Man, I wish gramps was here to see this. He would get a kick out of it for sure.
"Whoever Justin is, I hope he doesn't mind being out of your phone!" Lizzy said right before she pressed delete. "Wait, stop! That's my boyfriend!" Jarek protested. A devious smirk wiped across my face and I said, "Wait, Lizzy, don't delete it. Send him a snap of you two hugging with the caption 'You ready to open the relationship?'" Lizzy began laughing, but Jarek wasn't. "No, we can't do this!" he kept pleading. "But... I really don't want to lose." Lizzy tried convincing Jarek but she wasn't getting through to him. So she took the picture by herself and sent it to Jarek's boyfriend. Jarek tried fighting the phone out of her hand, but he soon gave up. I could hear him screaming while Lizzy cackled the whole time. I can finally see why people find Jokers funny after this. Man, now I wish I paid attention to those episodes I didn't pay attention to with grandpa.
Jarek finally calmed down enough to ask, "Why did you do this to me?" "Because that's the bit! You do or say what you're told or you lose!" Two thumbs downs appeared followed by the score board. "Lizzy couldn't get Jarek to join her in the picture, making them and Rosco tonight's big losers!" Wait, I don't get to participate in the challenges? Aw man, I was kind of looking forward to doing what I was told. Oh well, at least I'm not getting punished! Suddenly, a man who looked like... all four of the Jokers combined entered the room. He had Joe's eyes, Sal's beard style, Murr's ferret eyes, and Q's hair. "You survived the onslaught, congratulations. Come with us to the punishment room." I found it creepy he said "us", because there was no one else with him. Then I noticed his name tag read "Us." Weird! He lead "us" to the punishment room, which was the strange room me and Rosco entered in to earlier. But this time all the losers were in the huge cage.
Immediately the smell of sweat and dirty clothes filled the air. I could see Rosco with hands holding on to the cage demanding to be let out. "This isn't funny!" he cried. Another thing I noticed was a song playing from these loud sneakers. It sounded like a remix of the "Drive, Drive, Drive!" song from Season 9. I really hate that song, but the lyrics this time said "Die, die, die! It feels so good, to not be alive!" Suddenly, the hooks began slowly lowering from the ceiling and ichor dripped from them, which some got on Rosco's shoe. The Q and Murr look-alikes entered the room and stood next to "Us." They all had these artificial smirks on their faces, like they were so happy with what they did. "Us" looked at the caged losers and let out a cackle that sounded inhumane. The Murr imposter stared at me with those beady little ferret eyes, which sent a shiver down my spine.
The lights began flickering on and off and the "Die, Die, Die!" song got even louder. All the hooks lowered to the point they were right next to the losers' waists. "Help! Let me out!" Jarek began screaming. "Us" ran up to the cage bars and let out a high-pitched laugh that was horrendous, like it sounded like four people were laughing at once but in a sadistic manner. The hooks suddenly jolted forward and the lights turned off. I stood there in horror as heard the horrific screams of Jarek, Lizzy, and Rosco. It sounded like their bodies were slowly being torn to shreds by the sharp, pointy hooks digging into their veins, tearing their muscles, and ripping their flesh out with such great force it causes the bone to break. The screams lasted about 2 minutes, but it felt like hours before they finally ended. The lights flickered back on, and what I saw made me want to end my own life.
"Us" and the Impractical Joker imposters were all naked, wallowing in the dismembered body parts and gallons of blood of the people I once knew. Us was licking the blood off its lips and putting pieces of flesh in its mouth. It was laughing and holding on to what was left of Jarek's arms and legs. "Kill them all!" it screeched like two atom bombs went off in the back of its throat. I also noticed the words "WAR PIG" carved into his stomach. My legs stiffened and I felt a huge lump in my throat. My heart felt heavy, I could feel my eyes watering, and I didn't want to believe what I was seeing. I backed away from the cage in shock and collapsed to the floor.
When I could see again, something felt different. I felt lighter, and the area I was in was so bright. That's when I saw Rosco... and Grandpa! I had gone to Heaven. Grandpa wore a white robe and his skin gleamed with a majestic glow around it. He looked way younger. Another figure stood over me toward my left. It was a... person in a black cat costume? It pounced on me and I began screaming while thrashing my arms around. Grandpa, Rosco, Lizzy, and Jarek began laughing. "Wake up ya sleepy head! We're having a party and us deadies gotta stick together!" Grandpa joked. "Wait... No! Grandpa... Rosco... You guys are supposed to be dead!" "Weeeellll...The cancer ain't killed me yet!" Grandpa joked. "We didn't get torn apart, dude. We left the cage when the lights went out and we filled it with dead meat and fake blood." Rosco revealed. "Yeah! YOU were the one who got punished!" Lizzy also revealed. "Mike doesn't find Impractical Jokers funny, making him tonight's big loser!" Jarek joked followed by Grandpa saying "Laughter is the best medicine, so believe me, this has extended my life span by a few months! Haha!"
After a couple of hours of feeling like I was living in an alternative reality, the truth finally came out. Grandpa didn't actually die. That and this whole "Punishment Tour" were pranks made to get back at me for not finding Impractical Jokers funny. Imagine your family and friends faking their own deaths in order to 'teach you a lesson' for not liking a TV show they like. This event has been so traumatizing for me I had to be placed in a mental hospital. And I don't think I'll be released any time soon.
I was sitting in a wheelchair in the lounge area waiting for lunch. On the TV was Jokers. It was the episode where Q pretended to be homeless and stole charity money out of a jar from an orphanage, and Sal was sent to a minimum security prison for two weeks for stealing from a closing K-Mart store. I felt like I was going to vomit. Not from being sick... But from laughing so hard. I laughed at all 22 minutes of the episode. I never laugh, especially at this dumb show. I've either finally found it funny, or I have no way to properly cope with the trauma of the prank pulled on me, and this is how I'm dealing with it. Laughing hysterically at a show I never found funny like an invisible gun is being pointed at my head.
"Laughter is good medicine," grandpa says. Maybe for him and everyone else that likes the show. But for me, it might just be the death of me.
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