Penn Jillette (born March 5, 1955 in Greenfield, Massachussets) is the taller, more vocal half of comedy magic act Penn & Teller. He has been an outspoken atheist and champion of freethinker causes for thirty years.
Recently Jillette was featured on NPR's This I Believe program, where he laid out his convictions in no uncertain terms:
- "This I believe: I believe there is no God. Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me." For the full essay, or to listen to the essay, see There Is No God under Essays & Articles.
Penn and his partner Teller have expressed distaste for many traditional magic acts; they believe these acts insult audiences by pretending the magic is real.
The cable TV show Bullshit!, which Penn & Teller produce and host, is in its fourth season on Showtime. The show attempts to entertain while exposing frauds, debunking myths and slaying sacred cows. Show topics have included ESP, cryptozoology, alternative medicine, creationism, ghost hunters and alien abductions. In one of the more controversial episodes, Holier than Thou, the show was critical of Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa. The show claimed the beatified nun spent donated funds on missionary work rather than healthcare facilities. The program has been nominated for six Emmys and praised by critics and freethinkers alike.
Penn also hosts an hour-long radio show five days a week, broadcast out of his home in Las Vegas.