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Pete Moss Interviews Teller
By Pete Moss (of course)
Points of Interest
Don't forget to stop by Pete's essay detailing his relationship with Teller over the years. Teller and Me.
Drop by the official Penn and Teller site here.
According to a Simpson's episode, Teller is not the first Teller that Penn started out with almost a quarter century ago. Unfortunately, I forgot to get Teller to confirm or deny this. I will say that in talking with him at various times, the current Teller claims to have no memory of events at which he was present in, say, 1980. On the other hand, the original Teller was the kind of bullshitter who would love to start one of those 'Paul is dead', (back in the early, early 70's, when their career really tanked, the Beatles put out a rumor that McCartney was dead, and record sales temporarily revitalized) kind of things. I don't know, read the interview and judge for yourself.

Pete: Are you a celebrity? Well first maybe you should define celebrity. For example, you ever had a stalker?

Teller: Other than you, you mean? Generally, we attract a rather pleasant and intelligent class of stalker. We send all the slack-jawed dimwits with empty eyes to the Back Street Boys.

Pete: Last 3 P&T shows I went to, Penn goes on about how sick of doing P&T you guys are. Well, why don’t you call it quits? Break up? You can’t possibly need the money. You’ve got a nascent writing career. You must have enough of a cushion to where you could quit P&T and still live comfortably for a year or so until the writing income got flowing.

Teller: A better choice would be to go to night school and learn to become an electrician. I've had some work done at my house lately, and, man, those guys rake it in.

Pete: Sandra Bullock or Keanu Reeves?

Teller: Oh, Sandra, absolutely. If I ever get stuck in a paper bag, I'll need help acting my way out.

OK you’re an atheist correct? Suppose it turns out you’re wrong and God does exist. You get there to the pearly gates and St. Pete is at his post and Petey goes “Hey, Teller!” So, God is walking by right then, on the other side of the gate, and he hears the commotion and comes out and goes “Teller? The famous magician and entertainer?! Far out, dude!” So you nod your head and maybe blush a little, cause, damn, even God knows about you. But then God and St. Pete look at each other, then they turn their backs and have a little conference, and maybe God calls in some of his homeboys, like Gabriel and whatever other hoodrats are hanging around in Paradise right then, and they’re having this huddle, and you know, checking you over the shoulder and all, and you’re getting kind of nervous.

Teller: Nervous? Unlikely. I've had Al Hirschfeld with his drawing pad in my audience.

So finally God turns around and says: “Well, Teller, rumor has it you’re an atheist. Confirm or deny?” In that situation what would you do?

Teller: I'd ask for picture I.D.

Well, you think about it, you think God knows everything anyway, you gotta come clean, so you pipe up: “OK, yeah I’m an atheist, or I used to be, anyway.” So then God and St Peter and Gabriel and all the divine officials go back into a conference, and they’re arguing, but finally they seem to arrive at a consensus and God turns back to you once again and goes: “Well, Teller, here’s the deal. You denied the existence of God, and that hurt my feelings, OK? But in the process of denying the existence of God you pretty much had God in your thoughts more or less continuously, which, according to the rules, anyone who keeps God in their thoughts almost all the time, gets into paradise.”

Teller: Oh, that old goofball sure talks funny!

Pete: So here’s the question: At that point would you enter paradise, could you enter paradise with a clear conscious?

Teller: Sure, if he couldn't spell any better than that.

Pete: Being as how you spent your life saying God is a phony, would you still feel you have a valid claim to spend eternity in Paradise if you turn out to be wrong?

Teller: Wouldn't want to. I can't play the harp and look fat in chiffon.

What kind of car do you drive?

Teller: A gas-guzzling SUV that whisks me over raw desert to my bat cave.

How did you manage to spend a bunch of time at college without getting infected with any of the regular informational Viruses like Freudianism or Marxism or Feminism or Existentialism or smoking pot?

Teller: Parallel construction, my boy, parallel construction! Your "smoking pot" idea needs a term with "-ism" on the end.

I fell for Freudianism in high school, then read Freud in college and realized he was mistaking poetry for medicine. Marxism seemed like no fun; even the uniforms are ugly. Genuine feminism -- the kind that helps women get what they've earned and have a good time (as opposed to the anti-porno nut stuff of Andrea Dworkin)-- well that's terrific. I'm okay with Existentialism, too; it's almost enough to justify the vanity of the French. And (wow, I'm done at last!) the idea of mind-altering substances gives me the willies. Fill your tank with nitro, the car goes fast, sure, but not far.


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