Despite challenging each other to step into humiliating scenarios that left them shaking and pale, four Bombo housemates and former tradies turned social media stars have survived their TV debut in The Inspired Unemployed: (Impractical) Jokers.
Jack Steele and Matt Ford (aka Falcon), well known for their humorous skits as The Inspired Unemployed after amassing 1.7 million Instagram and 1.6 million TikTok followers, were joined by best mates Dom Littrich and Liam Moore to push each other to the limit.
Based on the US version of Impractical Jokers, the hidden camera show involves embarrassing challenges, with the worst performer given a punishment.
The first episode aired on 9 August and Falcon admitted he was overwhelmed by the response.
“When you’ve watched something so much you don’t know what you’re watching anymore,” he said of also editing the episodes.
“By the end of it, we were going ‘Is this even funny?’ so that made us a bit nervous to release it, but the response has been amazing.
“One of my uncles, he usually gives me tough love, and he messaged me saying ‘Well done, the whole family’s rolling around on the floor laughing’.”
Jack and Falcon first attempted videos as Pine Tree TV, but it wasn’t until a nightmare European holiday stuck in an Airbnb a few years ago that The Inspired Unemployed was born.
The pair brought it home to Kiama, where Liam, Dom and other housemates made appearances in skits often centred around tradie life.
It led to them collaborating with international brands, appearing in TV commercials with basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, and filming videos with Hollywood stars Margot Robbie and Jason Momoa.
That success resulted in them being contacted about Impractical Jokers.
“We’d seen a couple of examples on TikTok, but didn’t really know what the show was,” Falcon said. “Then we looked into it, and we thought oh, this would be perfect. It sounds so much fun for us four housemates.”
Liam admitted it wasn’t too far removed from their normal life.
“We’re always pulling little pranks on each other, laughing and having fun, and just testing ourselves and building character,” Liam said.
“It’s not really us acting, it’s just us being ourselves in really hard situations,” Falcon added.
The challenges were often their worst nightmares, like Dom having to meet his girlfriend’s mum for the first time without warning.
“My girlfriend was in on it but her mum wasn’t, so I had to sit down and just make an absolute fool of myself,” Dom said.
“She hates messy eaters, so I’d grab a big handful of nuts and I was talking to her with food flying out of my mouth, just being very arrogant.
“I was white and shaking, but it felt good afterwards.”
Liam said the challenges were tailor-made for each member.
“We knew Falcon would never do stand-up comedy, so we sent him out there with no material and made him vulnerable,” he said.
“Jack hates public speaking, so we sent Jack to do a really bad wedding speech in front of the whole family on the most special day of their life.
“I was really scared to dance, so the boys sent me out to do a strip show in front of 300 women.”
While doing the challenge was difficult, watching their mates suffer was just as hard.
“They didn’t show this in the edit, but before Jack went out, someone got up and talked about a family member that had passed away and the whole wedding was in tears,” Liam said.
“The only people who knew were the bride and groom.
“At the start, we were like, oh my god, we can’t send him in, but then obviously he had to do it, so you definitely feel bad sometimes.”
While Jack and Falcon felt anonymous filming The Inspired Unemployed overseas, it was a more vulnerable experience filming at home.
Impractical Jokers was no different – although having cameras and a production crew around helped.
“You know that it’s just half an hour of pain and then you can tell the public that it was all for a joke,” Dom said.
“Whereas, I think, making skits in public people spend the rest of their lives being like ‘What was that?'”
Falcon admitted being well known made filming the show harder too.
“When you’ve got an earpiece in and you’re being an (idiot) to people who already know who you are, it’s 10 times worse. It is pain,” he said.
“I went on The Project and I was acting like the most arrogant prick you’ve ever met and it was in front of this live audience.
“Oh man, even just talking about it, I start sweating.”
The first 100 videos of The Inspired Unemployed were unscripted, before their Berlin Wall video saw them take off.
Those early days of improvisation helped.
“A lot of it is improvisation, but when Liam’s going out to be a waiter at a restaurant, we have a fair plan of what we want to do to him,” Falcon said.
“It then depends on that person, how they react and so a lot of it is improv but there’s a bit of it that’s scripted as well – so there’s a good mix.”
In fact, they even did an improvisation class before starting the TV show, joking that “We only did one. That’s all we needed”.
They admitted the TV experience would benefit future social media skits, including helping with confidence.
While Falcon admitted the tradie life was not for him, for Liam it’s still a reality.
“It’s a great job, but it kind of showed me the amount of fun you can have with all your friends doing this kind of stuff,” Liam said. “But, at the end of the day, I’m still a tradie.”
The Inspired Unemployed: (Impractical) Jokers airs on Ten Wednesdays at 8:30 pm, with the entire series available to stream on Paramount+.