I didn’t care about the David Letterman thing until somebody wrote a column that said, ‘Would you think differently of Jon Stewart if he did the same thing.’
That’s interesting. It’s also interesting how people would’ve gone crazy had it been someone who had any sort of political charge whatsoever. Or if there was a similar thing with O’Reilly. What I think what was most interesting about the Letterman thing and I don’t understand what we want out of a workplace or what power plays in a workplace are because Penn & Teller is pop and pop shop. I mean, two guys. And if you stretched it out have about 15 people working with us and those 15 people have all been working with us for 20 years. There’s never been any sort of office romance or entangling. I suppose it’s a hostile working environment in terms of people’s language, but I certainly know that no one has ever asked someone else out that has the same payroll.
I don’t know anything about it. I have friends who have fucked people they’ve worked with and they seem happy with it and I have friends that have fucked people they’ve worked with and are unhappy with it. I just don’t know anything about it, but the one thing that’s so weird about the Letterman thing that has nothing to do with Letterman or CBS or anything else, is the number of female commentators, and I guess I’ve heard one or two males do this too, who say it’s odd he was choosing to go out—I guess they say go out because they don’t want to say fuck—with interns when he has access to the most successful beautiful women in the world sitting on the couch next to him. ‘Why doesn’t he just date them?’
What’s amazing to me about that it’s just a given with these people that someone who sits on a couch on TV would be a better choice than someone who has a job and the second, that they would be a better choice automatically if you had a choice between the woman working at the counter of McDonalds and Madonna, that of course you would automatically go for Madonna. The reason he might not be going for the people is that they’re psychotic cunts. (laughs) I mean putting that totally aside, I have fucked people who’ve sat on that couch next to Letterman and I’ve been one of those people that sat on the couch next to Letterman, and that’s plenty of information to tell you: stay the fuck away from us. Save yourself, a condom will not help. Run. Find yourself someone who is unemployed, someone who is an intern, someone who is a coal miner, someone who has a fucking job and fuck them.
The whacky thing is, this automatic belief that anybody in their right mind if given the choice between someone who is working for the ACLU and Beyonce would automatically go with Beyonce. I don’t know Beyonce, but I know enough to know that you don’t want to wake up next to her.
It almost sounds like a joke, that you would rather do that. It is a little absurd.
If you read stuff about the Letterman thing, he has all these ego problems because he’s choosing to sleep with these lowly people instead of the really accomplished wonderful brilliant humanitarians who sit next to him on the couch except for the fact that they are mentally ill by definition.
You know if you slept with any of those people, you would’ve heard about it much earlier. Instead he has some guy blackmailing him.
That’s the other point. I haven’t heard anyone voice that particular opinion. Like if I were hosting a late night show and I were dating every fourth woman who came on the show, wouldn’t you be writing right now in your paper, ‘What the fuck is wrong with this guy? Doesn’t he know that starlettes will kill you?’ It would be like Acapulco cliff diving. It’s like maybe if you’ve been bred for generations to fuck celebrities, you could do it. Maybe Carrie Fisher can do it. Maybe she can handle Paul Simon. Of course she couldn’t, but maybe someone who’s like three generations in. Maybe Drew Barrymore could host a late night show and fuck the people she’s interviewing.
I think it’s a crazy idea, but none of that has anything to do with the actual issues that people are actually talking about. It’s just this nutty little thing that’s taken as a given in our culture.
Have you started doing any writing for periodicals or been meaning to take anything up?
I’ve been asked every once in a while, just some stupid stuff like writing about donuts for Maxim. CNN pretty much always ask me to write columns for cnn.com which I’ve done a few times and I’ve written a few political things. They bring me on Larry King and Keith Olbermann—they bring me on just as the resident nut libertarian. Anytime you need an atheist or someone who’s going to say there shouldn’t be a law whatever that law is, you can just bring me on and I’ll say that. Then the liberals get to say, but how could you deny a benevolent force of the universe and shouldn’t we use guns to accomplish everything. Then I go, ‘Oh, okay.’ (laughs) That’s kind of my job, but I do it because first of all, I’m telling the truth.
What’s so odd for me—and this is a very particular situation—is what I say on Keith Olbermann and what I say on Glen Beck are identical. I say the exact same thing. I believe this is generally true for me, but it’s certainly true for me that the medium is not the message. The message is the message. I go on the Olbermann show and say, ‘Maybe we should have more freedom and less government and by the way, there’s no God.’ Then I say the same thing on Glenn Beck months ago and it’s the same thing I say on Larry King. They put me in that role and then it makes them say on TV, ‘Penn & Teller at The Penn & Teller Theatre at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.’ If they say that and people come to our show, it makes me really happy.
It’s really funny, because I get people one after the other who come up and go, ‘I love what you said on Keith Olbermann and then the next guy will love what I said on Glenn Beck.’ And I go ‘Okay.’ I think that most people who do those two shows have in some way polarized the audience, but in my case my position is so non-mainstream that its equally far off the bell curve. I’m the same standard deviation from Glenn Beck as I am from Olbermann.