Penn Jillette

(Penn Fraser Jillette)

Penn Jillette
Penn Jillette
  • Born: March 5, 1955
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Magician, Actor, Author, Comedian, Musician, Inventor









Quote Topics Cited
Freedom means the right to be stupid. Freedom & Liberty
God works in mysterious, inefficient, and breathtakingly cruel ways. Religion & God
Once you say “racism”, the other side loses automatically. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) told an AP reporter that he doesn’t mind queers, but he does mind queers having sex (which is a cool distinction) – and then complained that he wasn’t being given the right to say what he wanted about what those cute nasty gay boys do. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
The most patriotic and American thing you can do is to distrust your government Nationalism & Treason ;Citizenship & Patriotism
Two things have always been true about human beings. One, the world is always getting better. Two, the people living at that time think it`s getting worse. Human Nature
We live now in the freeist time in the freeist country. Freedom & Liberty
A joke is a way to say, 'I'm going to do something funny now. If I don't get a laugh at the end, I'm a failure.' Failure ;Humor
A lot of older parents worry about being older parents. I hear people say, 'I don't want to be too old to play baseball with my son.' They worry that their kids will be embarrassed by their parents' age.
A lot of people, to attack an outspoken atheist, one of the things they'll do is say, 'You are as bad as the fundamentalist Christians.' And my answer is always, 'I hope so.' Hope
A two-party system is way too good for those two parties.
All David Blaine is is a good-looking magician.
America was founded on Christians not trusting each other, and they sometimes seemed more willing to reach out to the godless than to someone from another sect.
As much as I disagreed with every second of 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' the fact that it is out made me jump for joy.
Asking someone else to do something immoral is immoral.
Bacon is so good by itself that to put it in any other food is an admission of failure. You're basically saying, 'I can't make this other food taste good, so I'll throw in bacon.' Failure ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Barack Obama is way smarter than Bush - so way, way smarter than me. Obama is way more charismatic than me.
Before you can read, you know the difference between a story and reality. And, of course, by the time you're old enough to do any real damage with an Uzi, you've learned that difference. Time
Behaving morally because of a hope of reward or a fear of punishment is not morality. Morality is not bribery or threats. Religion is bribery and threats. Humans have morality. We don't need religion. Hope ;Religion & God
Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around. Time ;Religion & God
Bob Barr is not crazy enough for my taste.
Bob Saget is the dirtiest comic who's ever lived. Nobody touches him.
Building a professional relationship on respect as opposed to affection is a very good idea. Running your art projects the way you'd run a dry-cleaning business is also a really good idea. You shouldn't go into work like you're going on a date, like you're hanging out with friends. Business, Commerce & Finance ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
But it's much more exciting to make Die Hard. One of the reasons that I think that movie is so successful is it deals with those very important blue-collar relationship themes. But it's more visually beautiful to show things blowing up. It just gives you more on the screen.
Cars mean nothing to me. I'm not a car guy.
'Celebrity Apprentice' has more integrity and is the most straightforward show I've ever seen.
Charities are really good. To a certain extent, the ones you pick are arbitrary.
Cheerios bring back memories. I actually don't think I ate them much as a kid, though; maybe it's some sort of Jungian memory, I don't know. But they have so much sugar, it's great.
Comedy is taken care of by a free market.
Computers absolutely changed my life. Before I had a computer, I had never written one thing. Not one thing. I'm a very bad speller and I was embarrassed by that. When I would type, the little mistakes would make me nutty, and I would never edit anything. Life ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Counterintuitive action makes a fellow feel smart.
Counterintuitive actions prove we can trust real knowledge and do the opposite of what we feel makes sense. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Trust
Democracy without respect for individual rights sucks. It's just ganging up against the weird kid, and I'm always the weird kid. Respect
Direct confrontation, direct conversation is real respect. And it's amazing how many people get that. Respect
Don't waste too much time wishing, hoping, and being envious; it'll make you bugnutty. Time
Even if I disagree with Obama on many, many things, he is certainly qualified to be president. He is certainly competent to be president.
Every day, TV, newspapers, and the Internet bombard us with a message that we're destroying the earth. Ice caps are melting, rivers are dying, polar bears are drowning, and trees are doing something.
Every nut who kills people has a Bible lying around.
Every poker player is smarter than me.
Everybody is designing magic iPhone apps that do things that are really, really beautiful, but a really important thing about magic is that the gimmick has to be ugly.
Everybody prefers to see a nut - they're more fascinating.
Everybody wants clean, safe energy. Some people think nuclear is the way to go. Some people think coal is the way to go. Some people think wind is the way to go. And there's always balances on that.
Everyone's goals are the same with very small differences. I mean, the goal of a socialist and the goal of a libertarian are exactly the same. The goals are happiness and security and freedom, and you balance those. Happiness & Unhappiness ;Freedom & Liberty
For better or worse, in the 21st century, reality shows are the variety show.
For the most part, any serious magic show is not using very much technology newer than theatrical lights. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Freedom means the freedom to be stupid, and that's what I want. Freedom & Liberty
From 1985 to 1994, I lived in Manhattan in a big old loft right off Times Square. I could walk to work, which was in a couple of Broadway theaters, to Howard Stern's studio, and to 30 Rock for 'Letterman' and 'SNL.' Even in New York, walking to work is homey and folksy, like living in a small town. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Having a Hummer is stupid. It's stupid to waste that much gas. It's stupid to waste that much money on gas. It's stupid to parade your insecurities on public roads. Hummers are stupid-looking. Money, Coins & Minting
I am a huge fan of proselytizing. I am a huge fan of speaking your mind. The only way we can share the universe... is by talking very strongly about what we believe.
I believe in individual rights so much that I don't like any sort of 'what's good for the cause'-type questions.
I believe the fast track to atheism is reading the Bible. I've read it three times all the way through. It's a big part of our culture, a big part of our history. I don't just read things I agree with. History
I believe very much that the most damning thing you can say about Muslims is that you're afraid to say anything because they'll hurt you.
I came to magic absolutely hating magic on a very, very deep level.
I didn't learn fire-eating to conquer my fears. I learned fire-eating because I desperately wanted to be in show business. Business, Commerce & Finance
I do believe that a belief in God is crazy, but that doesn't mean that the people who believe in it are crazy. Those are two different things. Ideas can be stupid and crazy, and the people who hold those ideas are not necessarily stupid and crazy. Religion & God
I don't believe in vengeance. Really, when all is said and done, I probably don't believe in punishment.
I don't believe the majority always knows what's best for everyone.
I don't know what's best for other people.
I don't question things that go against what I believe very much. But boy, the stuff that I really want to believe, I really question a lot.
I don't speak for all Libertarians any more than Sean Penn speaks for all Democrats.
I don't think I'm made of the right stuff to be a politician. I think I'm made to be a loose cannon.
I don't want anyone as president who promises to take care of me. I may be stupid, but I want a chance to try to be a grown-up and take care of my family. Families, Children & Parenting
I don't want everyone to read anything; I like us all reading different books.
I don't want people who are in poverty, in pain, or suffering, to suffer because it's for their own good and they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I want to help them. I want us all to help them.
I get along so much better with fundamentalist Christians than I do with wishy-washy liberals, who want everyone to get along.
I grew up as a Christian. I suppose at some level I wanted to believe someone was watching over me.
I had e-mail in 1984! I had an e-mail address then, which means that all you could write to was Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. There were three of us, writing to each other.
I hate that not everything ever written is on iBooks. Man, I hate paper.
I have a very specific definition of censorship. Censorship must be done by the government or it's not censorship. Government
I have more contact with people who consume, for lack of a better word, my product than any other performers.
I have no evidence that libertarianism leads to a better life. I just think it is morally right. Life
I intend to do the Penn & Teller show until they pry my cheesy magic wand from my cold dead fingers.
I like movies that are scary, but I don't want them to be dirt dumb. I want a movie that gets my blood racing, makes me laugh, but also gives me something to think about, with maybe a little sexy thrown in. Hollywood doesn't make movies like that. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I like things matching. I have an upright bass, a drum kit and a grand piano that's the same color. I tend to overthink things.
I like to read in the dark. I like to go into the bathtub, turn out all the lights, and in the dark, read my books.
I live in Vegas, and I see people by the side of the road with cardboard signs who seem like they might have tried that spending their way out of debt thing.
I love the feeling of shredded wheat. I love healthy bird food with a fun-to-eat feel. Then you spray them with sugar, and I'm there. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
I love the idea that horror and fear is a celebration of health and life. Life ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Health, Healthcare & Medicine
I love when violent, dangerous art is done by people who are not violent and dangerous. I love that when George Romero was making 'Dawn of the Dead,' he was coaching his son's little league team. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I never wanted to be a magician. I never wanted to be a comedian. I never wanted to be onstage.
I read a lot of books to my children, and they all seem really good. I think people have gotten really good at children's books.
I started out as a juggler, so I know what it means to spend eight hours a day, seven days a week practicing something that people just dismiss with a wave of hand.
I think it's pretty cruel to give a kid a name that others are going to have. I think it's very important to have a unique name within any group you're likely to be in.
I think one of the things about Donald Trump that's interesting is he lives in a rarified atmosphere where it's possible that he doesn't get enough feedback, enough people rolling their eyes at him. It's a danger more in show business than it is with wealth. Business, Commerce & Finance
I think people under age 55 come to Vegas with a certain sense of irony.
I think the media spends a lot of time fooling itself. Time
I think voting for the lesser of two evils in game theory always leads to more evil.
I was about 12 when I heard my first Lenny Bruce record. He was already dead. But it changed my life and really did change the world. Life
I was always a little embarrassed when there was an act on television that requires a great deal of skill but is a little goofy, and the host comes over and acts like the person doing this skill is some sort of fool for having learned to do something that's very, very difficult.
I will forever stick up for Catholics and Christians in general. With a small number of very horrible exceptions, they do play by the rules.
I will not counter the insanity of the PATRIOT Act with an overblown fear of my rights being taken away.
If I go out to dinner with you and you order wine, I leave. I won't be around drugs and alcohol at all.
If I had to imagine omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent power in the universe that chose to make my mother suffer, I don't know how I would make that make sense in the universe. Power
If I were trying to avoid embarrassment, I wouldn't have stumbled my way through 'Dancing with the Stars.'
If there are two things Penn & Teller stand for, it's the truth & lying, although not necessarily in that order. Truth
If you don't pay your taxes and you don't answer the warrant and you don't go to court, eventually someone will pull a gun. Eventually someone with a gun will show up. I want everything the government does to be done, I just want it to be done voluntarily. Government
If you like the stuff I do, my chances of liking you go up.
If you spend a lot of time lying to people, you think a lot about what the truth means. Truth ;Time
If you want to talk about magic, the stuff that blows me away is the stuff that's done close up.
If you want to turn out an atheist child, unconditional love constantly is a good way to do it. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I'm a big fan of gospel music, and you cannot be a fan of rock and roll, you cannot be a fan of country western music, and you can't really be a fan of jazz without listening to a lot of music that's religious. Music, Chants & Rapps
I'm a big fan of huge populations of people, so you'd think with 300 million people in the country, you don't even have to please 1% to be phenomenally successful.
I'm a hardcore libertarian - I want everything legal - but I also believe that you have the right to free association. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
I'm always fascinated by the use of the first-person plural talking about sports. Sports & Athletics
I'm always surprised when the corporate world does stupid things, because they're often not very stupid in hindsight.
I'm an amazing mama's boy.
I'm not bothered by the idea of getting old, or I guess you could say by having arrived at old. I was 10 when my mom turned 55. For 1955, she was a very old mom.
I'm not misunderstood. I am brash. I make my living being brash.
I'm really happy with all the art that was inspired by religion, and I think I'd be tickled to little tiny pieces if art in the future was inspired by other things. Future ;Religion & God ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I'm totally against straight marriage - even though I'm married. I don't think heterosexual marriage is any of the government's business. Business, Commerce & Finance ;Families, Children & Parenting
I'm totally clean and sober my whole life. Life
I'm very happy being big and effeminate.
In my private life, I'm not around any drugs or alcohol. Life
In my run-ins with Christians... I find that they really are good moral people. And we overlap on everything, and they don't seem to be the kind of people that are waiting to hear voices to tell them what to do.
In reality, many people let go of religion later in life. Life ;Religion & God
It is really funny to see people that you know acting unpleasantly just because there are TV cameras on. Humor
It wasn't success, because Teller and I, by the time Asparagus Valley got together - within a year, we had achieved all our goals. I mean, our goal was to earn our living doing exactly what we wanted. Which is many people's goal. Time ;Success
It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people yourself is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral, self-righteous, bullying laziness. Government ;Money, Coins & Minting
It's only the losers named 'Dave' that think having an unusual name is bad, and who cares what they think? They're named 'Dave.'
I've been fired from a situational comedy with a script they wrote specifically for me because of my voice.
I've never had a drink of alcohol or any drug in my life. Life
I've never revved my car at a light for an attractive woman or an auto-rival, not even as a joke.
I've voted Libertarian as long as I can remember, but I don't really remember much before the Clintons and the Bushes. Those clans made a lot of us bugnutty.
Jay-Z, he knows precisely who he's going for - 14-year-old white suburban girls.
Juggling is very, very straightforward; very, very black and white; you're manipulating objects, not people. And that's always appealed to me.
Magic is the Special Olympics of entertainment.
Mentally ill people come from all belief systems.
Modern American magic, late 20th century magic, is tremendously disrespectful of the audience.
'Moxie' is a name that was created by an American for the first national soft drink and then went on to mean chutzpah, and that's nice.
My body really, really wanted to reproduce when I was 15. It took a lot of civilization, socialization, willpower and some emulsion polymerization technology for me not to reproduce at 15. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
My hair is way, way long. I've hitchhiked across the country a zillion times. I've ridden in every car. I was never a hippie. It takes more than long hair.
My love of computers, besides being practical, is very direct and visceral. I love the way things look on the screen. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
My mom, if you asked her if she was interested in whether or not people gambled, would say no.
My parents were teetotalers and my grandparents were - it's all the way back. It's New English puritanical tradition.
My tolerance for crazy people is, I think, high a tolerance as you're ever going to find. I love being around David Allen Coe. I would have loved to hang out with Tiny Tim. I can listen to Sun Ra on a tape-recording rant. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
My whole family is missing that sports gene. I hope I didn't screw that up by marrying a great golfer. Sports & Athletics ;Hope ;Families, Children & Parenting
No one can tell you the rules of 'Celebrity Apprentice.' No one. Donald Trump just does what he wants, which is mostly pontificating to people who are sucking up to him, while the network people try to manipulate him into making the highest-rated show they can.
Obama is a great leader. He can fire people up and get them to do what he wants.
Once you have somebody that is telling you, 'We are interpreting God for you,' it seems like you either agree or you don't. You either say, like Martin Luther, 'I'm going to have a direct relationship with the word of God,' or I'm going to go through a conduit of God on Earth,' which would be the Pope. Religion & God
One of the things that Teller and I are obsessed with, one of the reasons that we're in magic, is the difference between fantasy and reality.
One of the things that Teller and I are obsessed with, one of the reasons that we're in magic, is the difference between fantasy and reality. That is the subject that, if you have a brain in your head, is always dealt with in magic. The smarter the tricks you're doing, the more that' s an important thing.
One thing you learn doing magic tricks for a living is how close every performance of every magic trick is to disaster. There are no robust magic tricks. They're all hanging from a thread - sometimes literally.
Part of the experience of being entertained is sitting back and plugging into someone else's vision.
Penn & Teller don't know jack about global warming.
Penn & Teller stopped doing practical jokes, and the reason is we got much too good at it.
People like Bill Maher, who brags about being a cynic, it sickens me. I am the least cynical person I know, and I am very, very skeptical.
People still seem to think that they should vote themselves money. They seem to think there is stuff which they think is the government's job, when it's really the individual's job. Government ;Money, Coins & Minting
Performers have the right to say what they want to, and anyone paying money has the right to accept or reject the art and entertainment that's available. Money, Coins & Minting ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Poker has the feeling of a sport, but you don't have to do push-ups. Sports & Athletics
Poker would have never gotten on TV when we only had three networks.
'Psycho' is fascinating philosophically, because the point of 'Psycho' is that everything that's bad happens because of love. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Religion cannot and should not be replaced by atheism. Religion needs to go away and not be replaced by anything. Atheism is not a religion. It's the absence of religion, and that's a wonderful thing. Religion & God
Religion is faith. Faith is belief without evidence. Belief without evidence cannot be shared. Faith is a feeling. Love is also a feeling, but love makes no universal claims. Love is pure. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Religion & God
Religion is often just tribalism: pride in a group one was born into, a group that is often believed to have 'God' on its side. Religion & God
Showbiz is just there to give people something to talk about.
Someone who is a good person should have no fear of the government whatsoever. Government
Technology adds nothing to art. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Teller and I worked Renaissance Festivals and street performing - actually more real, no kidding around, Philadelphia street performing than we did Renaissance Festivals.
The definition of a stupid thing is something that if you do everything right, you still get hurt. Fire-eating and love are stupid things. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
The fact is that violence gives you a rush.
The First Amendment says nothing about your getting paid for saying anything. It just says you can say it. I don't believe that if a corporation pulls all the money out of you or a network pulls their money away or you get fired, you're being censored. Money, Coins & Minting
The first thing I said to myself on 9/11 was, 'There go our civil rights.' I found out by comparing notes later that George Carlin and I both said that at the exact same time. That's the first thing that popped into our head. Time
The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Respect
The medium is not the message - the message is the message.
The most important part of life is work, it's the flow, it's getting stuff done, feeling like you're doing something. Life ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The one kind of person I have a lot of trouble understanding is the kind of person that says the existence of God or religion doesn't matter, it's not an important decision. I think it's vitally important; it's what all our lives are based on. Religion & God
The only difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama is killing more people.
The only place we were really told to tone it down - where other people would use the word censorship, but I wouldn't - was when we did MTV right after the Beavis and Butt-head thing.
The only secret of magic is that I'm willing to work harder on it than you think it's worth. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The pure unadulterated disgust of Washington seems to me to be a really good thing.
The purpose of art is to collide the intellectual and visceral together at the highest speed possible. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The reason I'm an I.B.M.-type guy today is that I really needed a laptop back in 1986, and I just couldn't wait for the Powerbook.
The secret truth of 'Celebrity Apprentice' is that it isn't very hard... 'Celebrity Apprentice' is easy like junior high is easy. All the arithmetic, the creative writing and the history are super simple, but like junior high, you do that easy work surrounded by people who are full-tilt, hormone-raging bug nutty. Truth ;History ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The skills that we have are the actual magic skills - not the performing skills. We have to separate those. But the actual skills that make the tricks work, we don't get to use again. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The Tea Party claims to want small government. Government
The vast majority of people who have guns never hurt anybody.
The vast majority of people who have mental illness problems never hurt anybody.
There are performers who have built their whole career doing magic on TV and can't really perform live at all - don't really have jobs and skills.
There is no reason for the government to limit political speech. Government
There is this tremendous amount of arrogance and hubris, where somebody can look at something for five minutes and dismiss it. Whether you talk about gaming or 20th century classical music, you can't do it in five minutes. You can't listen to 'The Rite of Spring' once and understand what Stravinsky was all about. Music, Chants & Rapps
There never was a God. 'God is dead' is a halfway measure I won't go with. Religion & God
There's no job in show business that's harder than any other job outside show business. Business, Commerce & Finance
This is going to sound horrible, but I don't even know how much I make in a year. It must be, you know, a couple of million dollars, a few million. I know it's more money than my dad, a jail guard, made in his lifetime; more money than I'll ever need. Families, Children & Parenting ;Money, Coins & Minting
To drive a car in rural America is freedom. Before I had a car, I'd never seen a rock and roll show, I'd never seen a comic or a show. Freedom & Liberty
Tolerance is you saying something crazy and me smiling and saying, 'That's nice.'
Tommy Smothers is a hero of mine.
Trey Parker did 'Book of Mormon.' It's the best Broadway show I've ever seen. He does 'South Park.' It's wonderful.
TV networks are dying. The death throes of religion give us jihads. The death throes of television give us reality shows. Religion & God ;Death
We aren't people who believe that just because we're performers our opinions on everything need to be known.
We celebrities are desperate pigs.
We knew that we were kind of odd and creeps, and we wanted to do odd, creepy stuff for people who wanted to see that.
We know what racist people look like. They don't deny it. They just don't!
We need a president who realizes that there's no government business in show business. Government ;Business, Commerce & Finance
When 9/11 hit, the second thing I said to myself was, 'This really is what religious people do.' Those people flying the plane were very good, very pious, truly faithful believers. There's no other way to paint them. Of course, they are extremists by definition, but they certainly aren't going against Islam in any real way.
When I buy Windows 98, I'm not only buying something useful, I'm giving money to Bill Gates, which is a really good thing. Money, Coins & Minting
When I was 15, 16, 17 years old, I spent five hours a day juggling, and I probably spent six hours a day seriously listening to music. And if I were 16 now, I would put that time into playing video games. Time ;Music, Chants & Rapps
When I was a kid, politicians wanted to avoid talking about religion if they could. John F. Kennedy couldn't duck the issue, being Catholic and all. So how did he address it? By reminding Americans that religion shouldn't be an issue, that he was concentrating on big things like poverty and hunger and leading the space race. Religion & God
When someone is trying to interpret something for you, they always have an agenda.
When you look at the actual numbers, the number of people who died after 9/11 was greater than the number of people who died in 9/11, even if you are talking Americans. But you know, I don't like to talk Americans. I want to talk everybody. More innocent people died after 9/11 because of 9/11 than died in 9/11.
When you tell other people to do stuff they don't know how to do, they tend to freak out.
When you're watching Psycho, there' s that moment when you have a visceral reaction to watching someone being stabbed. And then you have the intellectual revelation that you're not, and that's where the celebration comes in.
Whereas you have someone like Houdini, who works really, really hard to get really, really famous, and then has actual intellectual ideas that he puts into the culture that stay there. Fame
World War II proves there's no God. Religion & God ;War & Peace
You can't allow people freedom and then change your mind when the things don't go your way. Freedom & Liberty
You can't believe how pro-gay and pro-freedom-of-speech I am. I'm way out beyond anyone on the Left.
You have in Vegas the most heterogeneous audience you're gonna get anywhere in the country. In Boston, Chicago, Miami, you know who goes to the theater. In Vegas, you have people who only see one theater show a year, and it's in Vegas.
You have to be careful as a libertarian because you can sound very Republican.
You have two choices with Obama. You either believe that he is a man of Christ... or you think he's a liar. And I'm surprised by the number of atheist free thinkers that support Obama, and their argument is essentially, 'He's lying about being religious 'cause you have to do that to get elected.' It's a horrible reason to like somebody.
You should think about the world and feel about your heart.
'Zolten' is a common Hungarian name, it's my wife's maiden name and most importantly, it's the name of Dracula's dog.