Anticipating the weight of final exams and a noticeable chill in the air, it is important for undergraduate students to come together, de-stress and share a laugh or two. Does a ticket to see Joe Gatto’s comedy performance suffice?

On Dec. 2, comedian and former star of the hidden-camera reality series “Impractical Jokers,” Joe Gatto, drew a full Fairfield crowd to the Leo D. Mahoney Arena for an hour set of comedic storytelling, advice-giving and witty audience engagement. 

Honored as the first comedy performance held at Fairfield’s new arena, the event attracted a diverse yet equally enthusiastic crowd, complete with die-hard “Impractical Jokers” fans, those acquainted with the show and of Gatto, and others who simply joined their friends for a memorable Saturday night.

Nonetheless, Gatto’s lineup of ironic family stories, amusing fan encounters and endless jabs at his best friends and co-stars of “Impractical Jokers” left audience members with superseded expectations.

Upon its announcement on the Office of Student Engagement’s Instagram page, the front-runner of the event, Fairfield University students expressed tremendous elation around Gatto’s campus appearance. First-year Crystal Arbelo confided she “almost cried when I saw Joe Gatto was coming to Fairfield.”

“I’ve been such a big fan of ‘Impractical Jokers,’” she added. 

Arbelo was not the only holder of such excitement. Madison Governale ‘26  revealed that her enthusiasm led her to purchase a ticket immediately and with “pretty high” expectations for the show.  

“My friend’s school also had him come a few weeks back so I was even more excited to see that he was coming to Fairfield, too!”

Pre-show thoughts witnessed a trend of mixed emotions around Gatto’s solo comedy performance. Of the students The Mirror spoke to, many who bought tickets as “Impractical Jokers” fans often admitted to having little expectations towards his comedy potential outside of the show and his co-stars.

“I’m not sure what I am expecting to see as I don’t know much about him outside of ‘Impractical Jokers,’” stated Emma Maselli ‘26. “He is very funny on the show, so I am looking forward to his comedy by himself.”

Similarly, Andrew Becker ‘25 acknowledged that the comedian’s performance would certainly be different because of its removal from his typical and televised environment. Still, he credits Gatto with being his favorite ‘Joker’ and stated he was “definitely super pumped to see him perform.”

Regardless of these presumptions—or a lack thereof—Gatto kept his crowd laughing and undeniably amused, even shifting some student perceptions of the performer from neutral to positive. His set began with an introductory university discussion, in which he made sure to declare the uselessness of his own accounting major to the business-oriented school.

Gatto learned his audience well and tailored several of his jokes to Fairfield-specific topics. He commented on the notorious app, Fizz, tossed a Snicker’s bar to front-row student Lucas Steele ‘27 and somewhat apologetically referred to the arena of Stags as “angry reindeer”. 

“Joe Gatto is my favorite celebrity now based on his jokes about me,” reported Steele in an interview with The Mirror. “I am very happy about the Snickers bar and I’m deciding not to eat it and just keep it, maybe sell it on Fizz marketplace.”

Approximately halfway through his show, Gatto called out another female student fan holding a flag with a head-shot sign of Salvatore “Sal” Vulcano, a fellow “impractical joker,” which depicted a photo well-known to the show’s fanbase. Gatto questioned the frequency to which she travels with it and, with many laughs, she admitted to owning a blanket of the photo.

“Okay, uh … Security, thank you,” Gatto joked. “Nice to meet you, Ava, thank you.” 

Becker highlighted this type of personal engagement as a strong facet of the show. “I thought it was really cool the way he interacted with students and made it feel like we were a part of the show,” he said. 

Throughout the event, Gatto disclosed insider information about “Impractical Jokers,” such as how it took him two and a half hours to unwrap his house after it was gift-wrapped—a punishment for being that episode’s “loser”. 

More insider information centered on the genie episode and that despite being promised he would not flip over during his genie punishment, Gatto asked the audience, “Did you guys see the episode?” The Joker attributes his harness malfunction to the seventeen-year-old “apprentice” who abruptly took over his harness control.

A considerable portion of Gatto’s performance discussed his all-time favorite pastime: messing with people. In fact, he provided his audience with tips on how to do the same. All things he has done before, he recommended keeping your eyes open at the dentist, taking business cards and then re-handing them out as yourself and keeping your bathroom stalls not open, but unlocked.

Within this segment, he noted the fun he has with messing with fans of “Impractical Jokers,” especially when they recognize himself but not where he is from. He recalled previous experiences in which he has been recognized as the guy from “Impossible Pranksters,” and more notably as Steve Carell by an entire staff of Jimmy John’s employees. 

Regarding this Jimmy Johns’ confusion, Gatto not only took pictures with the staff as “Mr. Carell,” but allowed the location to post it on their social media page and tag the famed celebrity.

According to Gatto, he “messes with people, [he does] not get messed with.” And, through all his encounters, Vulcano still remains his favorite target.

A considerable selection of Gatto’s bits discussed his own family dynamics, many of those focusing on his two children. While he teaches his children kindness and refrains from words like “hate” and “shut up,” he admits that especially his son, has obtained pieces of his own outspoken personality. 

For instance, his son, Remington Gatto, shares his father’s concern for the “many potholes” in Disney’s “Cinderella” story, predominantly the mystery around the princess’s glass slipper.

However, when Gatto failed to protect Remington from the “bad people” of Disneyland’s “Star Wars” ride, he lamented that the child cried for his grandfather across the country instead.

Mentioning his family, the dog-loving comedian could not go without calling attention to his “Gatto Pups” either, all named after his favorite pastries and desserts. The Gatto’s are strong proponents of the campaign “Adopt Don’t Shop,” which Gatto made sure to highlight to his audience—along with the fact that he enjoyed a pre-show cannoli backstage.

In typical Gatto fashion, sarcastic comments towards the “angry reindeer” were not forgotten during his performance. Whether he criticized the skiers of the Northeast for putting “nine and a half wood panels on [their] feet” and falling down a mountain or reminded the young crowd that a designated driver is an “Uber driver whose name you know,” the comedian created an authentic, two-way exchange of humor by including his audience in his bits.

Gatto’s opening act, a comedian known as “Jiggy,” performed in a similar fashion. Not only did he engage the crowd in his jokes, he migrated off the stage and through the aisles to truly “meet the people.” Moreover, his delivery of an anti-Sacred Heart joke received strong approval within the arena.

Despite any criticism Gatto made, however, his show concluded with statements of gratitude and support for his guests. As an avid television fan himself, he emphasized his appreciation for the full array of seats in front of him.

“Stay strong,” he said. “I know you needed some laughter right now. I hope I was able to give that to you.”

Following his words of encouragement, backstage approval and audience applause encouraged him to perform an encore. In this well-perceived recollection of another unsuspecting individual, Gatto disclosed that he convinced an unknown number to arrive at work a half hour early with two dozen bagels and their medically recovering Chihuahua. 

“I did that,” he bragged.

As his final story, he ended it with a bang, reminding his audience to “speak with misinformation with confidence” and trailing with his typical late-night thoughts, most heavily concerned with the fear felt by the first pregnant woman. 

His wide array of stand-up material left students with rave reviews. Maselli commented, “I had a great time … Joe Gatto came out and it was so funny. I didn’t want the show to end, I was sad when it was over.”

She hopes that Fairfield holds another event like this one. 

Furthermore, Becker stated he was “really impressed” and that the performance was “a ton of fun.”

Junior Marie Fanizza, an accounting major despite Gatto’s previous remark, shares the comedian’s hometown: Staten Island. 

“He’s coming from Staten Island for this, so that really hits home for me.” While she was bummed about his lack of Staten Island-themed material, she assured that she “had a really good laugh.”

Gatto’s performance was put on as a part of Fairfield University’s Winter Fest, a nine-day-long series of events preparing students for the end of the semester and the holiday season. Student tickets were sold at $15, faculty tickets at $25 and guest tickets at $35; students and faculty were limited to two guest tickets each.

Gatto’s “Night of Comedy” tour is set to continue all the way until February 2024, with him traveling to venues across the country, including Oregon, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

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