“Penn, I saw your show with Teller last time I was in Vegas and it was fantastic. I went home and told everyone about all the tricks you did. [Pause for a thank you from Penn] When I was a kid, my mom told me never talk about religion or politics. I’ve seen your show. You talk about both. My question to you is, have you always done that or did you wait until you were on the big stage to start?”
That’s the question I put to Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller at NMX 2014, standing at a microphone in front of a thousand people, give or take. Penn was invited to talk about his upcoming movie, “Director’s Cut,” which was crowdfunded on FundAnything.com.
Penn is very outspoken during his magic show. He sells a copy of the Bill of Rights printed on a metal card so it’s detected by the x-ray machines at the airport. That way he can say the Bill of Rights (and his invasion of privacy) set off the alarm.
He opened the NMX interview with a comment about being an atheist. He’s certainly not afraid to share his opinion, even if it’s unpopular.
His answer to my question was somewhat surprising…at least to me. He said that while my mom was probably right about avoiding the topics of religion and politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table, he disagrees with that advice when you’re talking to other people.
He said that by sharing his opinions, it opens a dialog that allows him to hear other views, which may lead him to change his mind or at least see things differently. If we keep quite, then that dialog will never take place.
Penn wrapped up by saying that he’s always been that way; he didn’t wait until he was on the big stage to start. He says everyone should stand for something and not be afraid to speak out about it.
To that, the audience applauded and I returned to my seat.
Happy that I was one of 10 people…the 1% of the audience…who had the courage to get up in front of the mic and ask Penn Jillette a question. Happy that my question resonated with him and the audience. Extremely happy that I came to NMX 2014!
I follow several thought leaders and visionaries who freely share their opinions, whether it’s about religion, politics, the environment, gender equality, gay marriage, etc., and I respect them for it, even if I don’t share all of their beliefs.
My advice to you (and to me) is let people know what you stand for. Open the dialog by sharing your beliefs. Just do it in a respectful way.
Signing off from Las Vegas, baby! Have a great Sunday!