Penn Jillette

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Penn Jillette (March 5, 1955) is an American magician, illusionist, comedian, juggler, bassist and writer, best known as the half of the comedic duo Penn & Teller. He is also a vocal supporter of atheism, libertarian philosophy, free-market economics and scientific skepticism.

Quotes about Frank Zappa

"When I was a child I was very much into Frank Zappa. Always simple for me to understand Frank Zappa. The musical ideas were very clear and crisp. The literary ideas were very clear and crisp. The back of his record would tell you to read Franz Kafka's "In the Penal Colony". I would go to the library- before I listened to the record- I would get the library, get the book and read "In the Penal Colony" and then come back and understand Zappa's music." (Penn Jillette, November 9, 2010, "Why do people love "Mad Men"?") (

In an interview with "Big Think" on July 8, 2010, Jillette claimed that when he became an atheist he was inspired by Martin Mull, Randy Newman and Frank Zappa, who were openly atheist. "And then with the help of Martin Mull, Randy Newman, Frank Zappa, the idea that these three men were out-of-the-closet atheists was so inspiring to me and so important to me. And reading interviews with somebody... And I remember being somebody in a religious—and not a religious community like wack jobs, but, you know, in a community where most everyone was Christian—having those people in interviews say the simple sentence "There is no God" meant the world to me and gave me joy and gave me passion and gave me love and gave me confidence. And I think the first time I was interviewed, as presumptuous as this seems—and please forgive me—I remembered Frank Zappa's interviews. And I wanted to give a chance for someone else reading that to not feel they were alone." (

Penn Jillette was also a special guest during the Zappa's Universe concerts in 1991.

Jillette also went to see Zappa Plays Zappa in New York City and a few years later in Las Vegas. He claimed he liked the second concert he watched better because Dweezil Zappa's practiced even more. He was particularly amazed by their note-by-note, word-by-word rendition of Billy The Mountain. Jillette even claimed that Dweezil is a better guitarist than Frank. "If you watch videos of Frank Zappa playing- you know, Jonesy pointed this out to me, our piano player- he doesn't use his little finger much. Zappa kinda plays a bit like a composer guitar. Really smart ideas. He plays a bit kinda like this and he's working a bit. And Dweezil plays perfectly. His technique is perfect. So he plays all these really hard riffs that his father plays but plays them with minimal movement and no work and then he just slide up and do it an octave higher. Double Time. Just kind as a frolic way." (

See also