Because you’ve been in Vegas for so long, I sort of get the feeling that other metro areas may know you better now from Bullshit! and perhaps even talk shows than they do from the magic act. You ever get that feeling?
If I am known only for Bullshit!, I’m happy with that. We’re very proud of Bullshit! and all the stuff we’ve done. There are really only two things of all the things we’ve done that matter and that’s live show and that’s Bullshit!. We wanted to do a strongly, skeptical, or the truth is strongly pro-science show from the moment we got together. The astonishing thing is that it makes two people who don’t believe in miracles, believe in miracles, that not only did Showtime eye a show called Bullshit!, but you know we’ve finished up the seventh year. It’s pretty great.
I think we do get known a little bit more by that, but you don’t really have a choice. People are going to know you from what they know you from. The vast majority of any group of people have never heard of Penn & Teller. You take the six billion people on the planet and round it off, about six billion people haven’t heard of us. I think the majority of the United States have never heard of us. If they’ve heard of us from Bullshit!, that’s remarkable.
Maybe you should get a residency in Beijing.
Yeah, I guess. Although as much as people like to trash the US for being close-minded and dogmatic, I still think Bullshit! would go over worse in some Muslim country. (laughs)
Does it get picked up in Europe?
I don’t really follow that very much, but when people come to our show I hear that I think in Sweden, it’s called ‘Skitsnack.’ Skitsnack means ‘shit talk’ and it’s not really called that; it’s called Penn & Teller Bullshit!, but every time I say ‘bullshit,’ it’s translated as ‘skitsnack.’ Skitsnack’s pretty cool word. All I know is when people come up and say it‘s funny to hear you talking in that voice because I always hear you speaking Finish.
Do you ever have to approve the guy who dubs you?
No. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if this is true—I like to point out when I’m passing on false information that it may very well be false—but one of the things I’ve heard is the explanation for Jerry Lewis’s tremendous popularity in France, other than French people being wrong, the explanation I have heard from a French guy is that the person who loops the French for him is the funniest vocal comedian that’s ever lived. He makes the movies hysterical with his reading of the Jerry Lewis lines. I have no idea if that’s true because I don’t speak French, and I haven’t seen the movies that way, and I don’t know the guy. It’s one source that was well, a French guy. So automatically it’s suspect.
Are you comfortable in that role? As a social, political commentary role?
I don’t know. I’m much happier with Bullshit, where we’re controlled, but it spills out into the other shows. I do them, and I guess I enjoy them, but I only enjoy them because I see them as a ephemeral. I kind of hope people are still watching Bullshit from a year ago; they’re no necessarily watching the Larry King appearances from a year ago.
Yeah, or Glenn Beck.
I haven’t done Glenn Beck since he’s really gone full on crazy because last I did him was months ago, he hasn’t made the Obama racist comment. He hadn’t done the atheist rant. He was just kind of goofy. I don’t watch him, so I don’t really know, but from what I hear he’s gone way rodeo clown. I see Glenn Beck kind of as Abbie Hoffman. When I was a child, I’d read about Abbie Hoffman and my dad would point out to me every way Abbie Hoffman was wrong, and my dad was right, Abbie Hoffman was a lunatic and wrong about everything. There’s something wonderful about having a guy carrying on that the president hated. And I could not have disagreed with Michael Moore more. I think I’d disagree with Michael Moore on everything. We probably don’t even agree on what moments of the Marx brothers are funny.
When Michael Moore was making movies when Bush was in office, it made me so proud to be an American. I just love the fact that we have a country where people can make money fucking trashing the president and more important, than making money trashing the president, making money trashing the president when they’re wrong. Not the president, but when the person talking is wrong and I really dig that. I really dig that people like Abbie Hoffman, Michael Moore, and Glenn Beck can go off half-cocked and out of their ever loving minds and it still get out there. I’m one of the people that believe that the marketplace of ideas should not just be the best idea winning out, but should also be nuts babbling. That’s part of the beauty of it. We certainly have plenty of that.
I have a feeling that there’s a good other half of the country that just finds out about Glenn Beck from The Daily Show.
Yeah, I don’t even find out about it from The Daily Show. I don’t get any information from TV, but I do find out from reading and stuff.
You don’t watch TV at all?
That’s not literally true, I watch my..
You watch your show?
No, I’ve never seen myself on TV. Not literally, but I’ve never watched a show with me on it. I download House from iTunes, and watch that with my wife, so that is watching TV. I don’t like to get news from TV because video is so difficult to search. When I have my Kindle in front of me, I can skim an article, speed up, and slow down. Newscasts go much, much too slow, though when they say the one thing out of the five minutes you want to hear, it goes by too fast, and they don’t tell you enough. I think that Jon Stewart is a brilliant comedian and a fabulous guy on every front. As a personal guy to be around, morally and ethically, just untouchable, but that doesn’t overcome how little I want to watch TV. (laughs)