Are the pranks in the tv show Impractical Jokers staged?
If you mean fake, then NO.
There's a Reddit thread from 2014:
Hey! I'm Sal Vulcano from truTV's Impractical Jokers and The Tenderloins Comedy Troupe, ASK ME ANYTHING!
A few extracts:
Q: Can you explain why on some of the challenges, two of you go head to head as opposed to all four of you being in on the challenge?
A: Sure. It can be a bunch of reasons. Most likely the "marks", or real people we interact with, refused to be on tv. In that instance you can blur them, but since the show is built around people's reactions, the blur is not ideal. Another reason sometimes is the network didn't ultimately like it. Sometimes we push things further, and it's always a risk we take, bc we are willing to go further than the network sometimes. But we have to maintain a tone to the show, so it's a necessary evil.
Q: Hey Sal, is it going to get harder to do Impractical Jokers as you guys get more and more well known? Do you have any plans to work around this?
A: It may get slightly harder, but the truth is for every person that recognizes us, there are a hundred who don't. If we ever get to the point where it's too much, I guess that's a good problem to have?
Q: Do you guys have to get releases from the random people involved in the prank?
A: Yes, we legally need everyone's permission.
Q: how does the show deal with the customers at certain places (Costco, White Castle, etc) that you guys end up offending because you were told to say things like calling that one guy "mustache"? Do they get some money or compensation?
A: No they don't. Usually people are pretty cool when they find out it's a show. The few who get mad we try to convince otherwise, or they get blurred, or cut from the show. On rare occasion if the person was gold, we try and throw them a few bucks to coerce them.
As for the tattoos: I believe so:
One of the most memorable punishments in Jokers history involved three of the Jokers getting tattoos determined by Joe Gatto, who was the only winner of that week's challenge. While Q and Murr's tattoos were meaningful to their lives in a sarcastic way, Sal's tattoo was a huge picture of Jaden Smith on his thigh. Viewers will also notice that Sal already had quite a few tattoos at this point, including tribal bands around his calves. His arm tattoo, however, has a pretty deep meaning to him: it's song lyrics dedicated to a friend that he lost in 2011. Kinda makes that Jaden tattoo look especially cruel.
That's not to say that they haven't been removed since.