116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Impractical Joker Joe Gatto's Traffic Cam Live tour, which stops Jan. 14, 2022, at the Riverside Casino Event Center, still is on.
Reports lit up the internet Monday after a weekend Instagram post in which he announced the married father of two was separating from his wife and leaving the Impractical Jokers show that made him a star.
“Alongside my friends, I’ve devoted a decade of my life to building this franchise and couldn’t be prouder of what has been accomplished,” he wrote. “However, due to some issues in my personal life, I have to step away. Bessy and I have decided to amicably part ways, so now I need to focus on being the best father and co-parent to our two incredible kids.”
Jeff Johnson of Fairfax, the Jokers’ tour manager, confirmed Monday morning that Gatto will continue with his tour and his own shows, including the Traffic Cam style he’s bringing to Riverside.
"I love the Traffic Cam format," Gatto, 45, said while calling from New York before the weekend announcement that sent sites buzzing. "It's basically a fun comedy show where I get to interact with my fans. They get to tell me what to talk about while I'm sitting in traffic, plus there’s music with a live DJ. It’s a really fun experience."
The Jokers’ online show inspired this unusual solo show.
What: Traffic Cam Live with Joe Gatto
Where: Riverside Casino Event Center, 3184 Highway 22, Riverside
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 14, 2022
Tickets: $25 to $45, Casino Gift Shop, 1-(877) 677-3456 or riversidecasinoandresort.com/eventcenter.html
"When I’m driving by myself and get stuck in standstill traffic, I’d go live on social media to entertain myself," Gatto explained. "While doing it, I’d talk about anything and everything, and sing and dance to the radio. People really enjoyed it, so I decided to make it a live show. And I make sure I have a radio and a live DJ with me."
It'll be an unusual show but Gatto comes from an unusual place, Staten Island. What is often referred to as New York's forgotten borough, is nothing quite like Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx.
The quirky island, which has more in common with New Jersey than New York, has spawned a number of notable comics such as Pete Davidson, Colin Jost and the Impractical Jokers, which also includes James Murray, Sal Vulcano and Brian Quinn.
The Impractical Jokers is a popular reality show, combining a hidden camera and improvisation. The Staten Islanders have each noted how their home has impacted their comedy.
"The adventures I had on Staten Island definitely molded me," Gatto said. "The people I was around were funny. Cousins, neighbors, friends. It really gave you a perspective of community. There was a real neighborhood feel, where we’d play in each other’s yards, eat at each other’s houses and really integrate ourselves in every family.
“I actually lived in Los Angeles for two years. The DJ Justin Gerace who does the show with me was my roommate in Los Angeles. We met out there. I loved it. I’ve also lived in Queens, Philadelphia, Manhattan and Long Island. But I’ve always brought a bit of Staten Island with me wherever I went."
Gatto is always about comedy but he has a serious side. Gatto supports anti-bullying organizations and animal rescue initiatives.
"I was bullied in high school," he said, "and I used comedy to cope. It definitely helped me handle myself and the situation. And I remember how difficult that situation was for me, so I’m happy to try to help those dealing with it now. I actually hear all the time how my comedy helps people deal with tough situations and that’s one of the driving factors for me — to be there for fans that need laughter when the world is too heavy."
His other passion is animal adoption.
"I'm at 18 (adopted dogs) currently," Gatto said. "Rescue is just so satisfying. There is nothing like helping these beautiful little souls, so that they can live their life with a little bit of love. And they are fun. It’s a crazy pack of Gatto Pups over at the house, and never a dull moment."
Give Gatto credit for taking a chance. The former accounting major left a corporate gig to devote himself to comedy full-time.
"For a long time comedy for me was a side hustle," he said. "When the opportunity to be on television (‘Impractical Jokers,’ which debuted on truTV in 2011) presented itself, I had to make a decision to leave a comfy corporate gig with salary and benefits. But there is just something about entertaining people that always felt like what I wanted to do with my life."
Whenever Gatto has the chance to tour, he slots Cedar Rapids into the itinerary.
"I love it so much I keep coming back," he said. "The fans in that town — and Iowa overall — are always a great time. Super enthusiastic and ready to laugh so I can’t wait for this show to be in front of fans live again."
As for the coming year, he said: "There is more to be done, but it has been an absolutely fantastic ride that I am super appreciative to have been on so far."