Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!


We have been watching this in re-runs. There have been two seasons, with the third due to begin in April. The bad news is that it’s on Showtime, definitely the second-choice cable venue after HBO. It comes on right after Fat Scientologist. The good news is that it’s available on DVD, in the stores that aren’t put off by its very title.

P&T, the magicians who specialize in over-the-top bloody effects and bad taste, and then often tell you how they do the tricks, are following in the footsteps of Penn Gillette’s idol, Harry Houdini, in exposing what Houdini called “humbug.” Penn is more frank in his term, and absolutely, totally, insanely, hilariously merciless in exposing bullshitters and the bullshit they want to sell you. Here is a partial list of said bullshitters:

P.E.T.A. (a terrorist cult), The War on Drugs, Recycling, The Bible, Yoga, Tantric Sex, Profanity (those who want to stop it) , 12-Stepping, Hypnosis, Talking to the Dead, Alternative Medicine, Alien Abductions, Second Hand Smoke, Feng Shui, Bottled Water, ESP, Near Death Experiences.

Here’s how they go about it:

Feng shui: They hired 3 feng shui “scientists” (as they all termed themselves) to re-do a house in accord with the principles of chi. Naturally, they did it in 3 completely different ways. And charged a ton of money for it. The great state of Cahleefornia is trying to pass a bill that will require bullshit consultants on all public buildings! Bullshit is getting out of fucking control, friends and neighbors! These are your tax dollars! Stand up and shout at your idiot legislators!

Bottled water. They invented a “water steward” in a very tony restaurant to recommend various waters with their meals, including one with a fancy label in French that translated as “tap water.” And that’s what it was; that’s what all of them were, filled from a rubber garden house out back. Almost everyone they talked to said bottled water was healthier, tasted better, etc. P&T then set out to show how wrong they were. This is a $4.5 billion dollar industry! Coca-Cola and Pepsi are the biggest players, and their water comes straight from the tap. This is about a 7000% markup!

It’s all done with their trade-mark humor, character assassination … and some real rage. Penn really doesn’t like these people, and he isn’t afraid to tell you. Couldn’t recommend this series more highly.