Penn Jillette
Author, "Every Day is an Athiest Holiday"
01:34

"Looks Simple"—But It Isn't

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Magic goes to eleborate lengths to make something look one way that's really another. Penn and Teller thought it would be funny to do a magic trick that accomplished reality.

Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette is an American magician, comedian, and author, and is half of "Penn and Teller." Jillette began his career as a juggler, graduating from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, and in 1981 he teamed up with his friend Teller for a famous off-Broadway show. Since 2003, Penn and Teller have hosted the popular television show "Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" in which they debunk popular misconceptions or pseudo-scientific beliefs. Jillette is an outspoken advocate of atheism and libertarianism, and is the author of the novel "Sock."

Transcript
Question: What was the inspiration behind your “Looks Simple” trick? 

Penn Jillette:  Teller and I were fascinated by how stupid magic is, that magic is going through all these elaborate machinations to make something look one way that's really another. And it struck us as really funny to do a magic trick that accomplished reality.

And we went through many, many things. We were going to originally do it with cooking or something like that but after weeks of trying to write this bit we came up with the idea of how about taking out a cigarette, lighting it, putting a cigarette out, and then pulling out another cigarette and lighting it. How about if we did that trick exactly like that with all accomplished by trickery. Stuff you could do simply. And that seemed to have such a purely existential feel to us. Going through incredibly complicated machinations to get to a very simple end.

Recorded on June 8, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman

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