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A Penn-y For My Thoughts

Posted on Oct 21, 2016

Last night I went to the Penn and Teller Show at the Rio in Las Vegas. This was an unexpected stop on our 3-days-without-kids getaway, where we were going to do a whole bunch of nothing!

On our first evening, Monday night, we were watching tv in the hotel room. There was a show on that was talking about the upcoming debate in Vegas, and they had a special guest on – Penn Jillette, live streaming from what appeared to be a suite at the Rio (we could see the Strip hotels in the background.) My eyes shot up from my phone and my attention went immediately from my Twitter feed to this far more interesting development!

As with most news/talk shows with multiple guests, Penn’s comments were brief. He spoke to his appearance on The Celebrity Apprentice, shared that in the “boardroom” scenes (not actually a boardroom at all, just a set!) Trump would babble on and on (I’m paraphrasing here). We the audience only saw a small percentage of the footage, and he intimated that Trump would often say inappropriate things. (Again, I may be projecting, because that’s what I wanted to hear. Heh.) He pointed out that there were cameras in the room, and that Trump may have been censoring himself, hyper aware that everything was being recorded. We all have a public persona that we wear as soon as we walk out of the house – it’s the private moments that show your true self (and if you’re a douche with “guy talk” then you’re probably just a douche period.)

But I digress. My point was that my friend and I were captivated, hanging on Penn’s every word. My friend looked at me and said “I could fall in love with that man.” I knew exactly what she meant. Penn’s thoughtful and diplomatic way is so refreshing when the TV is bombarding us with arrogance and hypocrisy!

The next day we were at a Tickets 4 Tonight booth to buy our Mirage buffet coupon (Oooh, you should go there!!) when I pointed out the Penn and Teller tickets. We decided to buy tickets for the Wednesday show (our Tuesday was booked with Million Dollar Quartet – that’s a whole other story that I’ll tell you about later!) We were STOKED for P and T!!!

This was not my first rodeo. I had seen the P and T show the last time I was in Vegas, 1.5 years ago. I had fallen deeper under Penn’s spell then, having already been mad for him since seeing him on The Apprentice. I’ve always been a huge fan of Penn – intelligence is SO sexy!!! – and used to listen to his podcasts. I stopped tuning in because my baby turned into a toddler and needed all my attention and energy. (I don’t know if he still does them, I should check!!)

If this had been my first P and T show, I wouldn’t have had much to critique – it would’ve been amazing and I would’ve had nothing but accolades! But since I had a frame of reference, I feel somewhat qualified to give the show an honest review. Keeping in mind that these are my own opinions, and your own impressions may be different, please read the next few paragraphs with an open mind…

What I liked:

– the pre-show Jazz (we missed the part where Penn plays the bass due to late shuttle service thanks to the debate. I blame Trump.)

– the introduction of new elements – their show is not stagnant so you can see it often (not only magicians but smart businessmen!)

– Teller’s (carefully orchestrated) playfulness – adorable and endearing

– Penn’s pink fingernail – I can’t remember the story behind it, nor do I care to look it up. I just know it makes me happy.

– the dynamic duo race into the lobby after the show so when you leave they are available to take pictures with you. I can’t say enough good things about this wonderful part – I’m two visits in and will return for a third, fourth, fifth, and until I run out of fun things to do with them! (First time we made funny faces, second time we played rock, paper, scissors – this makes the experience so much more personal than simply smiling for the camera!)

What I didn’t like:

– the fire-eating bit – made me squirm because it was hard to see what was happening and it looked awkward.

– the traps bit was also meh.

– no “sawing the lady in half” bit or “Teller smoking” bit – two parts that I was really looking forward to seeing again!

– Gary’s outfit. It was too frumpy and set off my friends bullshit-o-meter right away. She still enjoyed the trick but was on to it from the beginning because of the outfit.

– Penn’s demeanor – it felt rushed. The first time I saw this show, Penn was friendly, spoke slowly, and it came across much more naturally. This time, Penn spoke quickly and seemed distracted, more on edge. He was almost dismissive. He probably had a shitty day or other things on his plate (he’s filming a movie, thus the blonde hair and missing ponytail!) and seemed to be simply going through the motions. We all have off days, and I am immediately ready to overlook this glitch. I just wanted to acknowledge it, in case you experienced the same thing and thought it odd. I blame Trump. He sucked all the oxygen out of VEGAS!

– Penn’s sharpness. Sharp wit? Cool! Sharp tongue? Not cool. Now let me throw in a little Mea Culpa here – I have the sharpest tongue on this side of town and will throw sarcasm before shade at anyone! But I don’t make a living entertaining people – I’d hope to hold my tongue if I did. Last night Penn told at least two people to “shut up” after the disappearing elephant trick (which was great!!) Perhaps we could get the same message across in a kinder way – “that WAS an elephant! You need to get your eyes checked!” or “You should Google elephant when you get home, and you’ll see Elsie’s picture!” Telling people to shut up is uncharacteristic (as if I know Penn personally!!) so again, I’m blaming Trump. Having that blowhard sharing your air must be discombobulating and irksome!

You will notice that all of the things I didn’t enjoy are performance-based. They are specifically about the show itself.

All of the things I loved about it were personal – their personalities are what makes this show GREAT! I admire them so much, and will sing their praises as long as I have a platform. So much respect, so much appreciation, so much enjoyment.

You should go see this show. But make sure Trump’s not in town first – that train wreck will ruin everything!!!