Well, not much Penn on Leno. Not much at
all. And no tiger. We were supposed to have a tiger. We
have a great bit for a tiger. It's called "Meat Magic." We
wrote it months ago and sent it off to Leno, but they didn't
have any openings. At the last minute they wanted us and
Teller and Nate worked like crazy to put it together. We
LOVE doing Leno and wanted to please them.
We talked to Josh the tiger trainer and got it set up. We
were going to be using a Vegas tiger in Burbank. The Leno
people liked our scratch tape and it all looked good. We
rehearsed after our MGM show the night before Leno. Teller
was up late and in pain because he was scratched by . . .
well, the bunny in the bit. Hey, it's also a wild animal.
Krasher was worried about us making our plane back to the
MGM for the show after shooting Leno (they tape at about
5pm), so he rented us a Lear jet. It was stupid expensive,
but Lenos are good for us, and we can't risk missing an MGM
show, because they're good to us too.
Well, there were permit problems with the tiger. It's hard
to use wildlife in the People's Republic of California.
Also, Josh doesn't know California tiger law that well. He
also left Vegas late. So Leno decided not to gamble with a
possibly illegal tiger and Josh and the tiger didn't make it
to Burbank in time for rehearsal anyway.
Nate had brought Needles and it was our backup. So, after
all this work on Meat Magic, it was going to be Needles.
I'm not even in that bit. But, I LOVE that. Not JUST
because I'm the laziest workaholic alive, but also because I
LOVED when Paul McCartney went on the Ed Sullivan show and
did Yesterday and they called it "The Beatles." I loved
them saying "Penn & Teller" and one guy doing all the work.
It seems to say so much about the partnership and trust and
sanity. It made me very proud.
They were promised a tiger and they got an apple with
needles in it, you could tell they were bummed. Then Teller
did that trick and, well, everything changed. He blew the
room away in rehearsal. It was hard to do it on TV. All
the beats were different and he knew that Leno would be
chatting. But, Teller killed! Destroyed. And I stood
backstage and felt like John, George, and Ringo during
yesterday. It seemed so cool.
We had a big crew and a lot of time for one guy to do all
the work. Nate, Krasher, Glenn, and I just hung out and
ate. Gilbert was also on the show playing Elain Gonzalez.
Man, he's funny. It was just a sketch, nothing that you'd
notice, just a little skit. Gilbert had jokes that were
just regular sketch jokes, but, man, he's so brilliant. I
don't even laugh. I just sit there with my mouth open.
He's Miles Davis, he's Stravinsky. He knows all the rules
and has the inspiration to break them. He has the best
chops and doesn't need to use them. Wow. I mean, you can't
really see much of this in the skit, you have to see him
live, but you can feel it in the sketch. "I also like to
sit naked on a hot stove." Amazing. It wasn't his line,
but he made it live. He kills me.
I played with Gilbert backstage and we hung out. We've
become good friends. It was so weird to be backstage with
no tension. Teller was working, but I had nothing to do. I
just hung out.
The show started and I watched Sandra Bullock talk about her
Mother's funeral. I couldn't believe it. I watched her say
nothing about her Mom, but just talk about herself. I
couldn't believe how that got by the pre-interview. Sure,
it's fine to make jokes about your Mom dying, but . . .
well, there was so heart that I could feel. When Jay talked
about his Mom not wanted to be buried with her glasses on,
it seemed real. It seemed like he loved her, but the Sandy
stuff just made me weird. It seemed too empty to me. I'm
SURE she loved her Mom and I'm sure her feelings were real.
It's not Sandy's fault, it's just TV. I was starting to
lose it, I was starting to think about my Mom dying and this
wasn't the right time. I had to think of how much my Mom
would want me to support my partner. So, I turned to my
buddy, Gilbert, and made a joke, I said, "Hey, my Mom died
this year, I should have a piece of this. I'm going to walk
out and say, 'My Mom died a few months ago in a lot of pain
and, well, you know, I didn't think there was anything funny
about it' and then walk off. That should change the mood
and get me some attention." Gilbert started riffing on it
and I felt better. Once Gilbert was feeling the weirdness,
I was okay. I shook it off.
Martin Sheen was great. We talked about my buddy, LOD, and
had a fine time. He's so charming. He looks great and has
such a great voice. Then he went out and talked like a
liberal, but that couldn't bum me. I can't be worried about
liberals in showbiz or I'll crack.
We hit the stage. I handed an apple to Jay and left. And
then Teller took nothing and blew the room away. It was so
cool. It got so quiet and amazing. I loved it. Watching
someone that good on TV using your name can make you pretty
When Jay was examining Teller's mouth, he said he saw
nothing but "pyorrhea." How cool is that? When Houdini did
that trick, he once got Groucho up on stage without
recognizing him. At the same moment, during the mouth
examination, Groucho said that he saw pyorrhea and got a big
laugh. Jay didn't even know he was doing a Groucho line.
The difference was that Houdini hated Groucho for the rest
of his life and Teller was fine with Jay. My partner is
more secure than Houdini was (and does a better Needles
On the walk over to the couch, I told Jay the story and he
seemed to think it was pretty great.
As a NYC friend said, "It was better than a stinky old
tiger." I think she was right. He killed. I went over to
the chairs and sat down. I started chatting with Sandy (do
you think she was hitting on me?) and I had to tell the
truth as I see it. I said, "You know, I felt kind of left
out of the Mom discussion, my Mom died a few months ago.
It's awful isn't it? It's the worst thing in the world." I
saw her get non-TV because we were really talking. I said,
"I'm a real Momma's boy, and I really miss her. I used to
call her all the time. I called her every day and it's
going to be
awful not to call her after this shot." Martin Sheen said
that his Mom had died when he was a boy and he didn't know
any different. I said, "Man, you missed a lot." We talked
about our Moms. Martin said, "You called her every day?
Where did she live?" I said, "Massachusetts" and that
amazed him more. Does Marty think long distance is still
expensive? We talked about our Dads and it was so real and
non-TV. It was nice talk. I felt okay about Sandy then.
She loved her Mom; she was just trying to do a TV show.
Hey, we couldn't even get our tiger on the show. It's hard
work to make TV. She did fine.
We took the limo to the Lear jet and flew to Vegas. Nathan
rode backwards and felt a little sick and that bummed me.
Burt had room service food waiting for us and we did a fine