Whether you love him or hate him, Penn Jillette's latest polarizing projects are always of interest to many. In this reliably wise-cracking collection of essays, the ex-carny turned millionaire magician continues his life-long ambition to keep calling it like he sees it, and he sees no god. There are several tidbits of straightforward philosophizing and even proselytizing on atheism as the choice of reasonably doubting people, but Jillette's giant personality frequently looms larger than rational argument, heading unpredictably but continuously into the territory he knows best, which is show biz. Ultimately, the book is a compendium of anecdotes tied together by the ideas of faith, trust, and belief, concepts that Jillette better understands through work and family than he does through any religion.
Nobody else could narrate this book, as Jillette's radio-ready and television-tried nasal rasp is too well known and too much fun. He is in fine form here with some of his best rants, and listeners will immediately judge him as honest, however else they judge him. Jillette earnestly recounts the deaths of his father and sister, pirouetting seamlessly between such sad stories and the more ridiculous moments of his life in Las Vegas. These include deflowering an ex-Kosher Jew with a double bacon cheeseburger, accidentally burning his genitalia on a hair dryer at an ex-girlfriend's in the middle of the night, and tossing his cookies while in zero gravity with Billy Gibbons. True to form, fast-talking Jillette doesn't leave much room for listeners to connect the dots between these tales and godlessness, but that's actually part of what makes them so magical.
Though this book is unlikely to convert to atheism anyone who isn't halfway there already, Penn Jillette's charisma certainly shines through. Surprisingly sagacious and genuinely inquisitive, this listen is guaranteed to both enlighten and enliven. And if it doesn't accomplish either of those noble goals, at least you'll have more than met your monthly quota for gratuitous curse words. Megan Volpert
From the larger, louder half of the world-famous magic duo Penn & Teller comes a scathingly funny reinterpretation of The Ten Commandments. They are The Penn Commandments, and they reveal one outrageous and opinionated atheist’s experience in the world.
In this rollicking yet honest account of a godless existence, Penn takes readers on a roller coaster of exploration and flips conventional religious wisdom on its ear to reveal that doubt, skepticism, and wonder - all signs of a general feeling of disbelief - are to be celebrated and cherished, rather than suppressed. And he tells some pretty damn funny stories along the way.
From performing blockbuster shows on the Vegas Strip to the adventures of fatherhood, from an ongoing dialogue with proselytizers of the Christian Right to the joys of sex while scuba diving, Jillette’s self-created Decalogue invites his listeners on a journey of discovery that is equal parts wise and wisecracking.
©2011 Penn Jillette (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Amazing, Heartfelt, and Truthful
I loved that this book was just so entertaining. Just like Penn himself (or from his shows, I never met the guy) this book is very entertaining and a great read. Mr. Jillette tells every story with so much detail, you can shut your eyes and just imagine you're there in whatever crowd he's describing.
As for the Atheism parts: they are wonderful. As an Atheist myself, these parts had me nodding my head in agreement and thinking about what I would do in similar situations.
It's hard to tell what my favorite part of the book was. It was all so amazing! If you twisted my arm and had me choose, it would either be the section about "Tricks", or the "Hairdryer" part. There's also the "Scuba Sex" section that is just plain cool!
I laughed out loud so many times at this book! Of course, I did have some, cringing moments, but that just comes with some of the material. And, as well, there were some parts that made me cry.
This book is chock full of Penn's funny anecdotes and experiences. And a laugh RIOT!
It's not a everyman kind of "why you should or should not believe" kind of book. It's about Penn and his why you should and should not believe. And each time you listen to it, you focus on different aspects of his stories. In one, you're side splitting at the stories and images. In another listen, you hear how he feels about what he's experienced. His personal honesty is raw and brutal. I enjoy that in a book
I liked the kind of stream of consciousness that the book has. Some folks find it strange to listen to, but I personally like that. It feels less like a book and more like Penn giving a spoken word performance.
I liked when he was describing the actions/words of "Schmooozle-schnoo"
When Penn was talking about Sigfried and Roy and his deep and abiding respect he has for them group.
This is the first audio book that I have listened to.
This was certainly a fun book with lots of funny stories from Penn's life. More than anything, I appreciated his point of view on several matters that I had maybe not though about in that way. I would look at this as light philosophy with lots of humor.
Hilarious, honest, joyous
The New New Rules (Bill Maher), When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? (George Carlin)
Jillette is a natural monologuist and champion rant-meister. It's the difference between just reading a stand-up set by Carlin (funny) and actually hearing it (gut-bustingly funny). It's all in the delivery.
Quite a few, actually. His tribute to Seigfried and Roy manages to be fall-down funny and really moving at the same time. Ditto the story of Schmoozleshnoo, King of the Ex-Jews. But the book is full of great moments.
I guess it should go without saying that anyone who takes religion seriously in any capacity will have no trouble finding offense, but there you are. Likewise anyone who has a problem with raw language and can't separate style from substance. You know who you are. For everyone else, this is seriously seriously funny (and true). One of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to.
If anything, this book kind of hurt his cause for Atheism to me. But it's still a great read and he's a fascinating person.
Yes, because it is thought provoking and wildly entertaining!
Much more personal.
Lots of laughter, but also very poignant.
First and foremost, Penn is an amazing storyteller. He captures your attention and does not let go until the story is finished. The worst part of this book is when it ends, because I truly felt as if him and I were sitting in my living room just talking. Truly insightful, and brilliantly voiced by Penn himself.
former nuclear scientist
I love Penn and Penn & Teller. I used to live in Vegas, and they sponsored all kinds of civic events. For example, I used to give blood 4-6 times per year, and if I went in December, I got two free P&T tix. I must have seen their show 4+ times and I loved it each time. My husband Tivos Bullsh!t and we often watch it together. I agree with Penn on a lot of things (not the full libertarianism, but a lot of his philosophy), and I think he is a genuinely cool and honest guy.
However, this combination memoir/screed is too much Penn for me all at once. With nothing to leaven his intensity, he curses too much (my husband won't believe that I think someone can curse *too much,* much less that someone curses more than I do, which is how extreme it is). Some of his memories are quite vulgar, especially the scuba diving incident. And he intersperses his ten "atheist suggestions" - his version of the ten commandments - through his reasoning for rational humanism and rambling, loosely interconnected stories that sometimes circle back and sometimes seem to get lost.
Penn is extreme in his views: very often, he loves someone and can compliment that person no matter what (the flaming makeup artist treats P&T like dirt and somehow earns Penn's respect); almost as often, he hates someone to the very core, like the pathetic magician who was so intimidated by Penn he tried to have him removed from the audience. He does outline some disagreements with people he likes, like Seth MacFarlane (my high school classmate!). This gets to be a little difficult after 4-5 hours. I probably should have listened to this in half hour chunks spaced out over many days, because I found myself zoning out sometimes and not rewinding to listen. Part of it may be that I had trouble connecting his vignettes. They weren't chronological, they were often only tangentally or subtly (reveal at the end!) related to the ten suggestions, and sometimes he would interrupt a story with another story that gave background to the first story, so I had to spend a lot of mental energy trying to keep track of what was going on.
As for presentation, it is classic Penn. If you're fan enough to buy this book, you know how he talks: loud and nonstop. He also does what I assume is a carnie trick of drawing breath halfway through a thought or sentence so that the audience stays with him. It's sort of human nature to wait to the end of a thought to turn away, and he doesn't pause at those points, only in the middle, which keeps you hooked. It exhausted me after a bit.
In all, I give it three stars because I did like a lot of the book, but two things dragged it down for me: the vulgarity (speaking as a lady with a fairly high tolerance for vulgar humor), and maybe envy? I feel like he was trying to use his own awesome life to show how wonderful life can be without religion if it is instead filled with love, family, and people. However, despite his frequent self-deprecation and heartfelt praise of those around him, sometimes it really just seemed like he was talking about how awesome his life has been (he's been in the vomit comet! he knows ZZ Top! he is friends with Wayne Newton! he has dated a ton of models/strippers/showgirls/porn stars/dancers/bartenders who could be models!). That was sort of off-putting.
If you are a big Penn fan, this is a big book of Penn. Penn is funny and awesome. If you don't mind vulgarity at all and can listen to hours of such a big personality, you will love this book. If you don't mind vulgarity in general but do have some sort of threshold to what you can tolerate, skip the scuba chapter.
It ranks very highly, I've only listened to a few, and I already enjoy listening to his stories.
Penn himself is a character, but outside of him, just the notion of "Vinny the Snot" is hilarious.
His passion comes across very well.
Oh man, I have no idea...
It's hilarious, it's inspiring and it's human. Penn addressed atheism succinctly in the first 4 sentences and then moves on to reinforce the obvious with so many entertaining and bizarre tales from his life. The book is unbelievably laugh out loud funny while being sincere to the topic. And as an audio performance, it may be my favorite...ever!
The chapter(s) he is asked by a (formerly) Hasidic Jew to experience his first non-kosher meal.
see my Headline
pure honesty and entertainment
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