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Episode 130: Nerdist Podcast
Penn & Teller
Nerdist PodcastNerdist Podcast

Nerdist Podcast #130: PENN & TELLER

Okay! It’s really a solo Penn Jillette show. But I knew Teller wouldn’t talk anyway so I just listed it as “Penn & Teller”. Thought that would be clever and amusing. As I’m typing it, I can see now that I was wrong. Too lazy to delete it all and start over though, despite the fact that it would actually take me less time to do that than to explain and disclaim it. I’m weird! I’m a crazypants! Cock-a-doodle-SQUEEEEEE!!!

All squeeing aside, Penn was a truly wonderful guest. We talked about the space program, song poems, bowling, his new show on Discovery “Penn & Teller Tell A Lie“, PLUS we got the full little person/chimp story that I referenced to Adam Savage on Nerdist Podcast #10. This episode is like a suitcase full of steak! PACKED and MEATY. Also delicious. #goodtimes

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  1. Murphy1d says:

    It’s 3am and I just finished this episode and had to come here and say that this was an example of when a conversation can turn into something magical. The Michael Moschen story gave me goosebumps. I was as enthralled in this discussion as I am listening to Neal Gaiman read. So glad it was captured and shared.

  2. Hardwick's Manscaper says:

    I miss Monkey Tuesdays on Penn’s former show!

  3. Darren says:

    I have to agree here – this may possibly be the best Nerdist podcast ever. Somehow it managed to be hilarious and thought-provoking at the same time. Well done, guys!

  4. Penny Lennox says:

    Best Nerdist Podcast ever – and there’ve been some greats along the way. I have to thank you guys for keeping me sane. I have a hideous work commute and you guys keep me from driving my car off the road just to liven things up a bit. This podcast is often funny, informative, entertaining, heartwarming, optimistic and unpredictable. Even when I have no idea who the guest is, by the end of the episode I am usually a huge fan of their work.

    On a side note, I drive a convertible and often have to turn off the podcast at stop lights – the language is definitely not appropriate for all audiences. I’ve gotten some funny looks from pedestrians!

  5. Awesome! Oh, and regarding guests returning: I’d love to see Wil Wheaton and Kevin Pereira on one (live) stage :-).

  6. agirlyman says:

    That was yet another excellent podcast Hardwick, I laughed my ass off, Penn was hilarious I wish I could find video of a chimp laying eyes on a midget!


  7. agirlyman says:

    Not to sure about this podcast, Tellar has always freaked me out since i was a kid (30+ years ago!), I’m betting he’s not so great on radio, or a podcast. Penn is entertaining enough though, so I’ll give it a go.


  8. Taylor Kerns says:

    The Penn & Teller (haha) episode is by a wide margin my favorite Nerdist episode. Because I’m aware of his political positions and generally used that as a basis for disliking the man personally. He single handedly turned me around with his warmth, his obvious love of life and of his friends and his openness to new experiences. Long Live Penn (unless he leaves his car on again) , and Long Live the Nerdist podcast.

    Keep bringing it like you have been and you have a subscribed for the life of the Podcast sirs, wonderful job all around!


  9. Wildcat says:

    This show… it’s more fun than a FACE FULL OF MONKEY!

  10. Amrehlu says:

    Penn has to be one of the greatest humans to ever live. Seriously.

    The episode has got to be one of the best, as well. Hell, even the one or two bad comments I read were just so perfectly fucktarded, that it improved the overall impact of this episode.

    Thank you for so much free entertainment (more specifically, free entertainment with such amazing quality), I really hope you can get him on again, maybe with Teller this time as well.

  11. John says:

    Forget more Arturo stories. Have him on the show.

  12. switters chew toy says:

    Great podcast. I would have loved to hear Penn talk about The Captain Howdy (his band with Kramer, ex-Bongwater), but just hearing the Arturo vs. the monkey story was priceless.

  13. Ben Z says:

    @Chris Hardwick

    SLOW DOWN!!! (Ha ha) You’re putting out so many podcasts so fast, that I can’t keep up. I’m still working on listening to some of the older ones too. I’m starting to think you’re a lesser paid Ryan Seacrest. #FirstWorldProblems

  14. JE Smith says:

    “Five big sober men with knives can do science.” Got to be one of the best podcasts ever.

  15. Tablamanium says:

    I’m surprised, given Matt’s NASA adventure this summer, that you didn’t talk about the chapter in “Penn & Teller’s How to Play in Traffic” about NASA’s comic timing.

    It’s a great description of how Penn got to see a shuttle launch and how amazing it all was, and then the sound hits you. It’s an experience so profound that it brought tears to everyone’s eyes.

    I’ve seen 20+ launches from on and near the space center grounds but I finally got to see Atlantis launch from the VIP area in January 98 . It was a calm, windless night launch (read the book for a great description of what that’s like) & it was so loud the sound waves made breezy ripples in the jacket & shirt I was wearing. The head of the Russian astronaut training program was pointed out to me & he had wet eyes too.

    NASA – the best concert experience around.

    BTW Matt – the steam you see rising in the first seconds of the launch is for sound suppression, not for fire or temperature. If the energy of the sound wasn’t absorbed by the conversion of the water into steam, the launch pad would be -shaken apart- by the sound.

  16. poorjavier says:

    Made me laugh, made me think, didn’t make me roll my eyes. Relax, the chimp didn’t get stabbed. Great episode people. Taking over the internet one giant atheist at a time.

  17. Rob R says:

    Chris, I always love the pictures of your guests. Who takes them? How does that all work?

  18. Jimmy Olsen says:

    Zooty zoot zoot!

  19. Pez_Witch says:

    I’m really not trying to be negative, and I’m a big fan of you guys, so I’m not just an asshole who wants to be nasty. But this podcast was the first time I’ve been offended by anything you guys have posted.

    I was actually enjoying it and thinking that he was pretty cool..until the monkey story. He’d rather risk having to stab an animal to death for simply following its instrinsic instincts, rather than uninviting a guest from his party? That’s pretty fucking disgusting behaviour. And God forbid he should smoke or drink himself but he thinks it’s hilarious to make the monkey do so?

    Animal abuse isn’t entertaining in the least to me, and I’m kind of disappointed that you guys felt it was such an awesome story that it should be highlighted on the podcast. There are lots of people who would probably tell me I’m taking it too seriously, but the fact is that the monkey has been trained to accept behaviours which are damaging to its health, and it has no power to question them. That’s abuse. And the bottom line is that he was willing to kill it for simply being a monkey instead of saying “maybe we should just uninvite Arturo this one time”.

    But that being said I’m still a fan of you guys, will continue to listen to the podcasts and still wish you ridiculous amounts of success. I definitely won’t be supporting anything Penn does.

  20. Mike says:

    Seriously, this podcast could have been about 3-4 hours longer… Absolutely wonderful

  21. Monkeyboy says:

    brilliant episode! i didn’t want it to end. i listen to your podcast while working out and i dropped the dumbbells i was laughing so hard! thanks!

  22. Tscott says:

    Loved this podcast. Amazing how you constantly get my favorite people to appear on the show.

    The only thing that would have made this podcast better would have been if you actually did have Teller there. I’ve actually heard him speak (via live streaming video of a James Randi Skeptics Convention panel) and after getting over the initial shock of him talking, found him to be a wonderfully intelligent, soft-spoken, individual.

  23. Herve Villechaize's Death Car says:

    Phenomenal podcast. I love Penn’s positivity and enthusiasm. Also I hereby nominate “Blue Atoms” to open the next Fallout game.

  24. Rob P says:

    awesome episode i didnt want it to end .
    i need more arturo stories!

  25. Chris Hardwick says:

    J-Rod: I know! It’s baffling. We didn’t talk about anything negative or controversial. It was a very sweet, pleasant convo that ironically touched lightly on how needlessly negative people can be. A lot of people didn’t even listen before they judged it. They are poor examples of human beings. Yay, Internet!!!

  26. Troy says:

    Just finished listening and I had enjoyed the conversation about today’s sadistic, realistic culture. Frank discussions such as those are why I keep listening.

    Being a member of the current generation/problem, I have noticed when studying every piece of news and person, I pay more attention to the negative aspects of life. And I do find that regardless if its positive or otherwise, people hear what they want to hear. I shun positve things because I think it’s bullshit. But I’m disciplining myself to say that there is a yang for every ying (So to speak).

    In my opinion, our culture of irony & deprivation is caused by our mediums. Im not saying TV or the internet is bad for you. Im saying that we have the ability to create content by ourselves. With no restraints, we can say just how we feel about life and not have it watered down by Federal Communications. The messages spread throughout the world are messages of haste, angst and intolerance. Because when you think about it, and you have time and time again, the people on the internet have almost nothing to live for except shitting on people even the slightest bit more prosperous than they are.

    The youths like me are another thing. I don’t know what much to expect out of life outside of all the comedy I’ve seen. Especially marraige. Think about that now. We’ve laughed at aids, rape and pedophilia for merley a few years now, but we’ve been hysterical about marriage since the earliest of playwrights. The Honeymooners was the very first glimpse as to how our mediums connect with the audience. It was a show about a loser. People ate that up, even today. Now with internet, nobody says “To the moon!” any more. It’s a slightly more subtle “Bitch, STFU and get my fried chicken!”

    When it comes down to it, we need to open the door and look at life. It’s what we make of it. TV, films and internet are good if you want to get something off your chest. The media is therapy; not a guide to life.

    (Sorry for the super long quement)

  27. Larry McLeod says:


    Hey love the podcast; i just wanted to say that the Fat Elvis from Bally’s (It’s now called Bill’s) has lost like 500 lbs. he still preforms there, but now he wears some extra fluff under his Elvis suit. I know this because my father in law is an employee of Bally’s (a long time employee) and knows fat Elvis very well…


  28. Lila says:

    This was AMAZING!

    Penn is such a great guest! On my top5 fav!

  29. J-Rod says:

    Wow! Wasn’t expecting the division of opinion on the comments.

    I was going to ask if there’s any chance of a part 2 because as highly entertaining as it was, I wanted so much more.

    Add to my wishlist of callbacks for Tom Wilson, Will Wheaton, Matt and Karen, and Nathan Fillion.

  30. Kevin says:

    Best episode yet. His parties sound amazing.

  31. Zak R. says:

    It’s clear that people are very divided on the subject of Penn Jillette — I appreciate that he’s honest and earnest and very smart (about magic and comedy), though I may not always agree with his opinions. There’s no doubt in my mind that he is (as he says himself) an asshole, but at least he owns it and he’s not necessarily nasty about it. He’s absolutely a great storyteller and performer, but I can see where his personality puts some people off. I’m glad you had him on the Podcast, and I would be interested in hearing how that came about.

    Actually, I’m curious about how you schedule guests in general, particularly ones (like Cranston and Jillette) with whom you are less personally familiar. Are you actively seeking out people you like and asking them to come on? Do you have an administrative-type person that their administrative-type person(s) get in touch with if they are the ones initiating the interest in coming on the show? You’re helping to build an entirely new system of radio-style productions, so these details are interesting.

  32. SlimCharles says:

    Always loved Penn & Teller: Bullshit, and I always hoped you’ll get them [or at least just one of them] on the podcast. It was a great episode.
    And now we’re totally used to get couple of episodes per week, keep ’em coming Big C!

  33. 78nathan7 says:

    I’ve probably laughed the most in this podcast~!

  34. Claes says:

    Name of song @2:52?

  35. Robin says:

    That man sure can spin a yarn. I love when the podcast just turns into one big conversation. 🙂

    Morgue Nostalgia is my Cure cover band. #w00tstockgames #hashtaggingoutsidetwitter

  36. MattG says:

    I’d love to listen to an hour of nothing but Penn Jilette, Seth Rogen and Mira-Booey laughing.

  37. Eileen says:

    This discussion of Brian Wilson and the song poem archive is a gift. I had finally gotten over any residual teenage embarrassment I used to have about telling people what a huge fan I am of The Carpenters and The Beach Boys (the soundtrack of my childhood), and now this is even more affirming. I, too, love the colorful clothes she wears, and I am not shamed to admit it.

  38. Sarah says:

    I needed to state that I am delighted by the ridiculous amount of nerdist podcast goodness you guys publish in a week’s time! Thanks for that.

  39. Rebel L. says:

    The thing about being positive when people cling to negativity really hit home for me.

  40. Jdubs says:

    Penns the man! Good cast!

  41. Ben says:

    IM a SKATMAN! Beeeeeeeeee UP UP PUP PUP PO

  42. MAXimus says:

    The Nixon song mentioned early in the podcast.

  43. SlimCharles says:

    Holly shit Big C! I cannot wait to finish the work and listen to this! This is awesome!

  44. J. says:

    Good stuff! You know, one of the things I love about the wild world of podcasting is that even when someone is mostly on a promotional tour, this space is a fine escape in which they get to just talk and spread comfortably out into a variety of topics. I find that the more natural and relaxed the conversation, the more I get to know the guests, the more excited I am about whatever it is they’re working on.

    I do not always agree with Penn Jillette, but I regularly watch Penn Point, and catch whatever else I can because he has a lot of interesting stuff to say, and it gives me a lot to think about (and he spins a fancy yarn!). Another guest I’d love to see back some time!

  45. Bobbi says:

    Penn Jillette? Dang it, you were on such a roll too. I prefer humor to ignorant smug. No one enjoys listening to Penn Jillette like Penn Jillette. I think I need a time out.

  46. Vincent S says:

    ZOMG!!! woot for Penn and Teller, one of the catalysts that made me look at the world the way I do now. Commence listening!

    thanks Nerdcast!

  47. Aric says:

    Can’t wait until Thursday when I work so I can listen to this episode! Glad you finally took my advice from a while back and had Penn on the show.

  48. Jeremy!? says:

    I cut myself shaving… is blood supposed to be green?