We are regular listeners to the Penn’s Sunday School weekly podcast and relish the time we spend with the taller of the magic duo Penn & Teller and his sidekick, and former juggler with Master Magician Lance Burton, Michael Goudeau. The show is rarely structured and that is just fine with us.
One of the great joys of our youth was listening to the great magicians who visited our favorite magic shops. Whether we were working or just loitering, we lived on their stories (even those repeated and embellished over time) and looked forward to learning from them. We were not anxious to demonstrate our skills or try to compete with the professionals who stopped by Paul Diamond’s Magic & Fun Wagon (later just The Magic & Fun Wagon) in the newly built Palm Beach Mall, or A & B Magic owned by our mentors Ari DiArmona and Barry Gibbs. We were content to listen and ask for more information or background.
It must be difficult for younger magicians to learn from their more seasoned elders without brick-and-mortar stores in which they can linger or act as a clerk/demonstrator/gofer. Perhaps podcasts like Penn’s Sunday School can help meet this need.
Penn’s stories about the formation of Penn & Teller (we learned this week it was originally “Penn Jillette and/or Teller”) are fascinating, riveting. On those rare occasions when Teller joins the podcast, his stories keep us spellbound. Teller, for instance, shared a story of why he practices every trick thoroughly, to the point of a full dress rehearsal. His description of his production of a previously live animal was hysterical and wonderful.
Folks who have seen Penn either on stage at The Rio, on television or in one of their many shows across the country, realize he is not restrained by conventions of good taste or polite discourse. He is honest and, at times, not appropriate for children or the easily offended. It must say something about us that we have no problem with his style, message or language.
Penn is also a profoundly sentimental person. His recent books have recounted his emotional reaction to the loss of his father, mother and sister. He comes across as sincere and for all of his bravado and bluster, he is also very human.
His tribute to Lou Reed is still available as a download from PennsSundaySchool.com and worth your time. We were never really into Lou Reed but have found a new appreciation for his music and his work thanks to the heartfelt sharing of Penn Jillette.