How Penn Jillette Prepares for a Show

Question: How do you prepare before a show?

Penn\r\n Jillette:
Same way Kennedy prepared for his debates: with a blow \r\njob and a cup of coffee. No. Teller and I have done so many shows, we \r\nwere figuring the other day that - I think it's possible Teller and I \r\ncertainly together, we've done more shows together on stage—more hours \r\nof shows on stage—than I believe anyone alive. I think if we keep going \r\nanother 10 or 20 years, which we certainly hope to, it will be more than\r\n anyone ever has.

Individually we've spent a lot of time on \r\nstage, so because of that, you know, I went on stage the night my child \r\nwas born, one of them. One of them was born when I had vacation. I went \r\non stage the night my mom died. I went on stage the night my dad died. I\r\n went on stage the night my sister died. I've gone on stage when I've \r\npulled IVs out of my arm, left the hospital, gone on stage, gone back, \r\nwent back on morphine. I have done shows during horrible, emotional \r\nbreakups. I've done shows when exhausted and after you've been \r\nthrough... however many shows you've done, 20,000, you know, tens of \r\nthousands of shows, maybe more than that, you no longer prepare.

We\r\n would be backstage off-Broadway—we shared a backstage area with he \r\ngentleman who were doing the Steppenwolf Show, you know, and wonderful, \r\nwonderful actors. I mean, fabulous actors. Tremendous. I mean, much \r\nbetter actors than us. I mean, we're not even actors. We shared the \r\nbackstage area, and the great thing was that they would be there 45 \r\nminutes before the show meditating and going, you know, "Red, leather, \r\nyellow leather, red leather, yellow leather," and working with their \r\nwhole instrument, you know, everything prepared. And Teller and I would \r\nbe just finishing up tying our ties, while reading, and walk on stage \r\ndirectly in the middle of a conversation we'd be having about a movie we\r\n saw on TV last night. No preparation whatsoever and it's just \r\nbecause... well I like to think it's just because we had done so many \r\nmore shows than they had.  But you might also think it's because they're\r\n better than we are. I think either answer could be... you could make an\r\n argument for.

Recorded on June 8, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman

"Same way Kennedy prepared for his debates: with a blow job and a cup of coffee," jokes the magician.

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