Last stop, India Penn & Teller go to India to learn about the Indian rope trick, and real street magic in the densely populated country.

Notes

Their guide is Lee Siegel, author of Net of Magic, a book on the street magicians of India.

The spend some time in Shadipur, a suburb of Dehli, home to the best Indian magicians. There is a magician’s union there, and their leader performs some magic for Penn & Teller, including vanishing a young boy.

The magician union also includes jugglers. A top juggler performs for P&T, and Penn is quite impressed.

While watching a performance by Naseeb in the Red Fort, the show gets shut down by the authorities. If the cameras hadn’t been there, the police would have beaten the performers.

While winding through the maze of Shadipur, they come across some illegal animal handlers, with bears, monkeys and owls. The conditions are pretty grim.

They watch another performance, where a young boy is stabbed through the throat, and then cured. After the performance, the magician sells rings as a good luck charm.

Penn & Teller act as ponzies in Naseeb’s act. Afterwards, they feel some regret about doing it.

While on a train from Delhi to Calcutta, Penn is reading T. Rex and the Cradle of Doom by Walter Alvarez.

Their guide in Calcutta, Paul, does the world famous “Car on the head” trick.

In Calcutta, they go to a show where the entire cast is made up of the magician’s family, where his wife’s head is set on fire, he puts skewers through his brother’s face, and his two brother-in-laws eat raw snakes and chickens.

Penn & Teller then head to the Taj Mahal in Agra, to see Issa Mudin perform the Indian rope trick.

After they are disapointed with the results, they set out to perform it themselves.

Penn goes thrugh a ceremony, in order to have Rompursan make him a top. Rompursan is now his top guru.Quotes

“Puppet people, I hate puppet people.” – Penn Jillette

“See what kind of father Teller would be? Teller would be a great father. Fit right in in India. He took naturally to that, slicing off the head of a child, didn’t he? Took to that like a duck to water.” – Penn Jillette, after Teller presented Naseeb with a trick knife, and demonstrated it on his kid.

“Shadipur, I’ve never been to a place like that…Being there with the filth of the water, and the flies, and the misery. And it wasn’t just a field trip to see how bad poverty can get, it was these are magicians, people we knew, people we liked, people we saw doing shows, and they have all this incredible culture. And I would trade all that culture for one clean bathroom and a flush toilet. But seeing them live like that was very sobering. Except the puppet people, they deserve to live like that, all over the world.” – Penn Jillette

“I know that some crybabies in the West are going to be upset by them ripping apart live birds with their teeth, and some would say that you could rationalize it by saying that it’s a different culture and that we have to accept that. But I don’t think that’s the way to rationalize it. It’s a goddamn chicken! Toughen up! It’s just a chicken! How many chickens are killed a day in just the UK? Self-righteous son of a bitch. It’s just a chicken!” – Penn Jillette

“The Indian Elephant, the Cadillac of beasts of burden….The Indian Elephant, the Winnebago of beasts of burden.” – Penn Jillette

“How do you get down from an elephant? You don’t, you get down from a duck.” – Penn Jillette

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Penn Jillette Radio Show Episodes

The Penn Jillette Radio Show June 02, 2006

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