Penn & Teller    Transcript: Friday@4ET    Source

Hi, I'm Jennifer Rogers, host of Friday@4ET.  Please allow me to introduce today's guests.

Infamous for their irreverent and nose­thumbing attitude toward traditional types of magic, Penn Jillette and Teller have purveyed their particular brand of cool on and off­Broadway in their award­winning theatrical show, as well as on TV specials and numerous appearances on David Letterman's programs, MTV, and Saturday Night Live, to name a few.

Penn is the voice of Comedy Central and an actor, and Teller a prolific writer.  They have authored two bestselling books (including Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends), and starred in the Arthur Penn feature film Penn & Teller Get Killed.  They are also, of course, beloved citizens of cyberspace, and true technophiles.  Of their new multimedia program for SegaCD, Penn says, ``I don't want to overstate our collaboration but I think it's fair to say we were even more involved in the development of Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors than Cher was with the hydrolization and ion balance of her hair care products.'' Produced by innovative creative executive Barry Marx for Absolute Entertainment Inc., the new CD is filled with scams, put­ons, flim­flams, practical jokes and twisted reality.  It features live footage of Penn & Teller and is jam­packed with cool stuff to do, including two fully interactive magic tricks.  "It's not that different from the spirit of our live shows," explains Penn, "except you won't be able to smell us."

Penn & Teller join us this afternoon on tour in Denver, to talk about Mofo the Psychic Gorilla, The Desert Bus, and other astonishing new routines that you can try on your own.  Please use the Interact with Host button to send questions and comments to the stage.  Every effort will be made to answer as many questions as possible in the time available.  Let's begin!

JenRogers: The first questions is..Question: Penn..  How do I get a ride in "Pink Death" ?

PennTeller: First of all, we should tell you we're not typing.  We're on tour, so there's some guy typing for us in some room somewhere...  Whoever's asking this, you'd have to be a good friend, which means you'd have to give me stuff.  What's your screen name? PennWrshp?  If your name is PennWorship then I guess you DESERVE a ride.

JenRogers: Adamscot wants to know...Question: Is P&T's BBS still in operation ?

PennTeller: We had a BBS really early in 86­ 87, with all kinds of cool stuff.  We became overwhelmed in a short period of time.  We're still looking for new homes on the net somewhere, where we can do something like the BBS but won't be forced to pay for 100 phone lines. 

JenRogers: VampRose wonders...Question: What was your first magic trick?

PennTeller: Teller: My first trick was the multiplying pennies from Howdy Doody's magic kit.  You multiplied pennies with the use of a cardboard prop.  It was magical! Penn: There goes the rat bastard giving away tricks again!

JenRogers: RFN2 asks...Question: Some people say that you are better than Copperfield.  Do you believe that this is because you are a two­man team? If there was only one of you do you still think you would be better?

PennTeller: It depends on what they think we're better than Copperfield AT! Teller : Who are they talking about? Penn: A fictional character from Dickens - so I don't know how you can compare because Dickens was a much better writer than us.  Teller: I don't think there's anything in the world that individually we are better than Copperfield at.  Including the fact that I know I ended a sentence with a preposition!

JenRogers: True2tru, come on in!...Question: Wow, is it really you?

PennTeller: I'll quote Bob Dylan on this....  "She asked for some collateral and I pulled down my pants."

JenRogers (ASIDE): P & T, do you want questions about when you'll be in New York, Syracuse, Chicago, etc?

PennTeller: There're a lot of questions about touring coming in.  We will post a schedule later.  Later this year we are all over hell.  We will be near you unless you live in absolute Dogpatch.  We are even going to the SOUTH! YWEEEE HAWWW!!!!

JenRogers: Okay, here's our next one..Question: Did Penn and Teller visit MGM studios this summer and ride the Tower of Terror?

PennTeller: Penn: Yes! Teller: And I've ridden Indiana Jones.


PennTeller: Teller: We're not in control of what questions are being sent to us.  Penn : Also, that's the definition oif a stinky question.  Give us a good one! When you put constraints about obscenity out there, you end up getting a lot of people talking like grade­ schoolers: "stinky"; stuff like that!!

JenRogers: LesFister wants to know...

PennTeller: Who? Lex's sister? PennTeller: Left fister? PennTeller: Lester fister?!

JenRogers (LAUGHING): LesFister wants to know..Question: Penn, what happened to your column in PC Computing Magazine?

PennTeller: PC Computing FIRED my ass! I used to work for all the big cheeses there.  They gave me complete freedom to write what I wanted.  Then they got some new guy and the magazine degenerated.  He wanted to talk to me about where I was going with the back page.  They could pay me to write, but they couldn't pay me enough to talk to me.  When you see Penn & Teller attached to any project, you know the words coming out of our mouths are our words, not the words of some mealy­mouthed aging hippy.  No one else is going to screw that up.  Or should I say stink that up?!

JenRogers: Foolaroun asks about Uma...Question: Where's Uma Thurman?

PennTeller: Penn: I have only met Uma once, just passing her on the street.  I don't know her, and I hate to say it, but I don't even have that much of a crush on her.  I love her name, I love her lips, and I love her breasts. And sometime I'll maybe find out what else she's got.  But not so far...

JenRogers: Many in the audience are asking if Teller is going to talk?... 

PennTeller: LOL! Teller: I think they're reading words on a screen, so if they expect to hear my voice through their screens right now, they're outta luck. 

JenRogers: BlueDjin, what's up?...Question: Hey, Penn.  Love your character Flea.  Is it true that he and Moxy are going on the road in a long format show?

PennTeller: Penn: Geez! One of the most wonderful things about these online things is you learn things you've never heard of.  I haven't heard that, but I'd love to because working with Bobcat is an unparalleled joy.  And I like doing that character, Flea. 

JenRogers: PFERMAT is here...Question: PennTeller ­ what do you think of the amendment to make desecration of the flag a crime? Do you think it is leading us toward a ugly future?

PennTeller: Penn: There's no doubt that that's just wrong.  We voted the Rebublicans in for less government.  We wanted Fatboy Clinton and the Acidhead Gore to get a message.  The best thing about the USA is its freedom. The sound you hear online everytime people talk about this is the sound of the founding fathers doing cartwheels in their graves. 

JenRogers: A point of information...Question: Is your CD ROM available for IBM yet?

PennTeller: The CDROM will be out in all formats in the fall.  We're making a lot of changes to goose it up a bit.  It's called Smoke and Mirrors and should be thought of as S&M - always write it that way!  It'll be WAY BOSS!

JenRogers: TDPatriot, what's on your mind?...Question: What is Letterman like off camera?

PennTeller: Penn: Someone said you could tell if someone is in show business if they think that David Letterman would be fun to hang out with.  He's the very best at what he does.  He's so much fun, but he does nothing but work.  If you're going to do stuff as wonderful as him, you have to give up the rest of your life.  When we poured cockroaches on his desk, his reaction was to swear under his breath.  But the next day he left a phone message that went: ``Well guys, I hated it, but it was great television! Come back again and hit me as hard as you like.  Love, Dave!''

JenRogers: BigCityBo wants to know...Question: When you both first appeared onstage in New York, you got a lot of criticism from some magicians for "exposing" the secrets of magic.  Do you still get this (I don't think I have to ask if you care!)?

PennTeller: We still get it now and then from amateurs who haven't seen us.  Penn: We had a magician once take us aside and say to us: ``Guys, whose side are you on anyway?'' Now that's a guy where you kinda want to take his face and put it in a mud puddle and never see it again.  Teller: We are on the side of people who love magic. 

JenRogers: Highspire asks..Question: Who is Mofo?

PennTeller: Penn: Mofo is the psychotic gorilla in our show.  In S&M, Mofo does what I think we both agree is the best trick on the CDROM.  You get to pick a card and Mofo tells you what card it is.  We've been trying it on people all over the place and it blows people away.  Teller: Years ago Mofo ran wild in his native land.  Then the Harvard medical team came, chopped off his head, hooked him up electronically, and brought him to America.  He spent some time on the carnival circuit before joining our show. 

JenRogers: Poookey wants some history...Question: Hi, You guys are great! Where did you get your start at?

PennTeller: First show we ever did was at the Princeton Theater.  We also did shows at the Minnesota Rennaissance Festival.  And we were very happy in those days, just as we are now.

JenRogers: R Hrschfel, a friend in Washington, asks...Question: You guys are good at illusions, so how about making the deficit disappear so we can stop all this budget nonsense?

PennTeller: That's a question with an agenda! A joke!! Perhaps you've been inside the Beltway too long - solutions outside of Washington are crystal clear....  People seem to be great at the illusion of spending money.  We don't need more illusions, we need truth.  Teller: Take my wife, please!

JenRogers: Another question...Question: Can you please tell how you guys got together?

PennTeller: Backstage at the Sullivan show.  We were both soldiers in 'Nam. Teller: I had a chimp act, and you were doing the thing where you hang by your teeth and play the glass harmonica.

JenRogers: Speaking of soldiers in Vietnam, a question went by awhile ago asking what you thought of Forrest Gump... 

PennTeller: Penn: I didn't see it.  I know people who thought Forrest Gump was a terrible movie - all the people I respect.  I was afraid I would get into an argument with a chick who loved it and then I'd lose my chance to score. 

JenRogers: Fisher fl asks...Question: What do you smell like?

PennTeller: Teller: I smell like Mennen Antiperspirant.  Penn: And detangler hair care conditioner.  And my breath smells like Fresca.  I love Fresca.  I'm hoping that soon my breath will smell like sushi.  (PENN & TELLER BREAK UP AT JOKE.)

JenRogers: All right, let's keep going.  Heather72, what's on your mind?...

Question: My mom wants to know if Henry Gibson is related to Teller in any way.

PennTeller: Teller: No, although I did play his son in a movie called ``Long Gone'' on HBO.  I had the privilege of meeting him: he's very gentlemanly.  He's an actor of advanced skills and he helped me with my lines and stuff.  Just a really sweet guy.  Lives in Malibu; his house almost got destroyed.  Penn: I notice no one's asking if I'm related to Fabio... 

JenRogers: WonderBir has a new question...  Question: How do those other Vegas guys make people and animals disappear and reappear?

PennTeller: Penn: Well they usually make the AUDIENCE disappear with their boring acts....  Everytime I mention Lance Burton at the Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas, he buys me a free dinner.  So go see him, he's a great magician!  Once you see a show by Sig and Roy and Copperhead you pretty much know how the tricks are done.  Did I mention Lance Burton?  Teller: If you really want an answer to that question, watch the big covered tables they bring out and think about them very, very hard!

JenRogers: Ms.  Univac is a fan...Question: Hey, Penn, I liked you in VR.5, will you be on it again?

PennTeller: Penn: Oh baby! I like your name!  Yeah, I just shot another one last week.  I'm not sure when it's on.  I was supposed to be a recurring character, but my schedule is making it tough.  A friend's son told me that he never expected me to play mean Mr. Wilson, so I'm trying to make my character nicer. 

JenRogers: Allegro r comments...Question: I've impressed and shocked my friends by poking my eye out in restaurants.  Do you have any more simple shocking tricks for us try?

PennTeller: None we can explain over this.  Plenty on our new CDROM, which is coming out in the Fall.  And we're just starting a new book called ``Penn & Teller: How to play in Traffic.''  The eye trick came from ``How to Play with Your Food'' - where you can learn how to bleed all over your spaghetti, and lots of stuff like that. 

JenRogers: Scott HOC wants to know..Question: Hey Penn, what did you think of that Wired profile on you?

PennTeller: Penn: I don't read anything that has my name in it.  That's how people go crazy.  My friends read it and said they thought it was pretty accurate for a magazine piece. 

JenRogers: Here's the next one..Question: Do the terms Poets' Seat Tower and Famous Bill's Restaurant ring any bells with you?

PennTeller: Penn: Damn straight! Greenfield Mass.!  Poet's Seat Tower is where you go to make out.  The poet had the initials TL and he used to go there and write.  Who was it, Teller - you gave me a book by him once?  The high school kids go there to have sex in the back of their cars.  I thought that was trite so I drove elsewhere... and had sex in the back of cars.  Famous Bill's changed their name to ``Famous'' after a magazine wrote that they had great lobster; before that, it was just Bill's.  Maybe from now on we'll be ``Famous Penn & Teller.''  Teller: We make great lobster.  PennTeller: Penn (ASIDE): Every inch of my love to Ms Univac!

JenRogers: WolfVH asks...Question: Why do you always reveal your tricks?

PennTeller: We don't.

JenRogers: Here's Fergface, guys..Question: I saw you a few years ago off­Broadway and I want to know about the duck trick.  Does the duck ever get hurt?

PennTeller: Unfortunately, no.

JenRogers: A new one, from Foolaroun...Question: I want to know, Who the fuck is JenRogers? Is that your assistant?

JenRogers: I the f**k am the host of this f***ing thing.  Sit down and be quiet.  Here's our next question, from Kattler...Question: What's your impression of your live audience, in terms of socioeconomic background?

PennTeller: Among other things, they are people who can afford tickets.  Within that, it's pretty wide.  The people who like us are the ones who are the smarter people, not the ones who hide behind a freaking flag burning ammendment!

JenRogers: GLB BOY is wondering...  Question: Do you like olives?

PennTeller: I love olives, especially the dried­up, dessicated ones.  Teller: I like ones that have been in a big barrel for a really long time and smell terrible.  But I like just about anything that's been in a big barrel for a really long time and smells terrible. 

JenRogers: Peev wants to know...Question: Can I have a free ticket to your Denver show tonight?

PennTeller: LOL! Penn: NO! WHY WHY WHY? Can I have your car, PEEV? Teller: Depends on what you look like!

JenRogers: RehRehReh, what's your question?..Question: Penn, why do you have one fingernail polished?

PennTeller: Penn: Means I killed a person - for asking personal questions.  It happened in Reno, '78.  I'm not proud of it, but it happened.

JenRogers: AmyL345 has our next question...Question: Are either of you single?

PennTeller: Teller: IS ! IS either of you single?! Penn: I used to practice serial monogamy, but now I practice parallel monogamy.  I find it makes for more efficient data transmission.  In other words, I'm single.  What's it to ya?

JenRogers: Infectsub inquires...Question: For Penn: Do you have any contact with THE RESIDENTS anymore?

PennTeller: Constantly.

JenRogers: Plasmus is next...Question: I read that there will be a 3DO version of Smoke & Mirrors.  When is the release date?

PennTeller: I think so.  It'll be in the Fall with the other platforms.

JenRogers: Zalo9 asks..Question: What kind of magic do you have planned for the information highway?

PennTeller: Stumped us...  Penn: Well, in S&M you will be able to convince your friend that astrology actually works.  Hard to believe, I know, but I expect there are some GORE SUCKERS out there who will fall for it.  Gore Suckers in the sense of the Vice President, not in the sense of sucking blood.  Teller: Which we'd be very interested in. 

JenRogers: Snakke misses you, Teller, now that you've moved West...Question: Teller...Do you still go to Advance Photo Lab in Ardsley, NY?

PennTeller: Teller: Ohhhhhhhhhhh! I miss Snakey too, but I moved away from there.  Funny cause my dad's nickname was Snakey. Advance Photo Lab does a great job, take your photos there.  Penn: And they're not judgmental, Teller. [THEY BOTH LAUGH]

JenRogers: Psych Major wants to know...Question: I want to know how you guys stick those needles in your hands or arms or whatever body part you choose & get it out without really doing it & if its real how does it not hurt?

PennTeller: Change your major!

JenRogers: Falsto asks...Question: Do you guys get your stuff at that "Magic Masters" store in Vegas?

PennTeller: HA HA HA HA HAHAHA HA AHAHAHAHAHA PennTeller: [BOTH LAUGHING] We build our own stuff.  We have 5000 square feet of Penn & Teller stuff and if we need new stuff we just tell our director of covert operations to build it for us and he does.  We have great lives.

JenRogers : Video JOA is curious....Question: Does any asparagus grow in Las Vegas?

PennTeller: Well, that refers to the fact that we used to be the Asparagus Valley Cultural Society.  There's a lot of old props from then still in Las Vegas. 

JenRogers: A rude question for Teller..Question: Why don't you talk, Teller....are you Penn's sex slave?

PennTeller: Teller: Of course.

JenRogers: Live Bob is next...Question: Do you have a fav. trick?

PennTeller: Penn: Often with us our favorite trick is our newest.  Right now we're doing the bullet catch, which twelve magicians have died doing.  I also love the Bible trick.  Teller: I love doing the shadows. Penn: I like the bullet catch more when I'm offstage than when I'm on. 

JenRogers: More on Teller's writing, from Plasmus...Question: I enjoyed Teller's article in Genii a while back.  Any plans for more articles, Teller?

PennTeller: Teller: Actually, that was just part of an interview.  I've never quite stooped to writing for them.  But I do have an article in the April Atlantic Monthly about a man who makes his living getting hanged.  And last Sunday's New York Times had an article by me in the architecture section.

JenRogers: Lexy Sexy wonders...Question: Precisely why is it that everything you, the amazing magic duo, do is a lie?

PennTeller: (ASIDE) Penn: Row 18, If Teller's answer hurts my chances of scoring with any of you chicks out there, just be assured it was a joke. Teller: And if it HELPS Penn, then it WASN'T a joke! That's what partners are for!!

JenRogers: Okay, back to Lexy Sexy...Question: Precisely why is it that everything you, the amazing magic duo, do is a lie?

PennTeller: That's almost the definition of magic, now isn't it?? Penn: We tell the truth more than anyone else in show business. 

JenRogers: Daniel wants to see more of you on TV...  Question: I think you two are better than Copperfield, but he does more stuff on television - are you two going to have a TV special???

PennTeller: We've already done a TV special.  We do all our own tricks so it takes longer to develop them.  Teller:We have things in the works that we can't talk about until we have dates nailed down. 

PennTeller (ASIDE): Hey Chat Row 6, it's not that the networks won't let us, it's just that our celebration of gore and violence was stopped by that psychopath Janet Reno.

JenRogers: Umamagi asks...Question: Do you plan to do anymore shorts like ``Invisible Thread''?

PennTeller: We plan to do things we have ideas for.  Right now we have the live show, the book, the CDROM.  And we'd love to do another movie.  Lots of performers have many writers to work with them.  We don't; it's just us two.  That slows us down a bit.  We do have a great crew, though .

JenRogers: We're coming to the end of our time, I'm afraid.  Here's our last question...  Question: Do you have any ideas about combining computers and networking with your magic performances?  Maybe having a performance over the internet?

PennTeller: We've done a lot of thinking on this, and will do a lot more thinking.  We haven't come up with anything wonderful enough yet. But we'll keep working!

JenRogers: Many, many thanks to Penn & Teller for a wonderful session!  Audience members, if your question wasn't answered, post it in the Penn & Teller folder on the Friday@4ET message board.  (Keyword: FRIDAY).  To order the Sega CD of Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors (available April 15), leave you real name and address in the same folder, and we'll pass it on. 

The transcript of this session will be available sometime this weekend in the Guest Souvenirs library (Keyword: FRIDAY).  Join us here in the ABC Beta Odeon again next Friday at 4pm ET, when our guest will be actor and comic Richard Belzer.  Until then, have a safe weekend and a great week! BYE!!

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