|Triple Turn Around Penn - 3/15/03
I was asked to speak at a Libertarian gathering in San Diego. I had to get back for the show, so I flew over in a private jet, did the luncheon, the plane waited and I flew back. My talk had no name; it was "Lunch with Penn." It was a beautiful outdoor place right on the ocean. It was a beautiful day.
There were only going to be about 80 people and they would
agree with me on stuff, so it should have been really easy,
but I worried about it for a month. I didn't know what I
was going to do. Preaching to the converted is harder than
you think - yeah, they're going to cheer any nut thing you
say, but they're also not going to be surprised or
stimulated by the arguments they've made themselves. I
also worry about these speaking gigs. A couple days before,
I was trying to find a way to cheat. I was trying to think
about how to get Fire-Eating in there. I wanted to do
something. Shows without Teller doing things are really
hard and scary. I want to do something.
As I was thinking about this I thought, "Well, after Great
White and all the terrorist stuff, they won't let me eat
fire anyway." FLASH! What could be better for
Libertarians than doing Fire Eating without fire? Talk
about a great way to talk about the government enforcing
stupid rules and taking away the joy of danger. It was
perfect. I would do the Fire-Eating without fire. It
would be really funny and I was sure I could riff off it.
I called Krasher and said, "Find out if I can do fire." He
said he didn't think it was likely. I said it was a trick
question. He didn't have time to get a real "no" from the
fire department, but he got a "I don't think so, but we'll
try" from the hotel.
When we got there, we were outside by the beach and they
said, "okay" to the fire. Okay, that was okay. I'd talk
about how I was planning on doing this great Libertarian
riff about rules by doing Fire-eating without fire, and
then I got here and we were outdoors, so I CAN do it and
then after not doing, I would do it. It would be fine. A
strong finish and a turnaround. That would be great.
And it was MUCH too windy to eat fire. I got up to do my speech and I read some of my columns and talked about my airport adventures and then did a Q&A. They seemed to like me a lot. I finished and the guy started giving announcements and I jumped up again and said I was feeling guilty. I told the whole fire story from getting the idea to not getting the "no," to getting the "yes," to then deciding that I couldn't do it because of the wind. It was a great ending, the last thing I said was "So, I can't do it because of the wind damn it. It's weather. So we can't blame everything on the godamn government." It was the perfect ending. I was very happy with it.