Chances are if you have ever been in Las Vegas you have either seen a magic show with Penn and Teller or you’ve heard about them from local residents and guests. They’ve made lots of special appearances on television doing their funny skits. Penn Jillette is the tall man who routines speaks while Raymond Teller stays quiet and plays the modern-day equivalent Abbott to his Costello. But in 2012, Penn went at it alone for a bit, appearing as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice. Playing for charity, his showmanship (from the get go) has helped this magician and comedian set himself apart from the crowd.
Penn Jillette is best known as a magician and comedian often performing alongside another magician and comedian Raymond Teller in the hit Las Vegas act known as Penn and Teller. If anything, Jillette is pretty well-known for being outspoken, but he says he’s actually a quiet, pensive, and generally introspective person off stage, celebrity website CelebDirtyLaundry.com said. But watching him work a crowd while fund-raising on the hit show Celebrity Apprentice in 2012 would never give you the idea he was not 100% comfortable playing an extrovert. This introverted comedian and magician knows what it takes to live life out loud.
He told Citizen Times, when asked if viewers would see his outspoken side on Celebrity Apprentice season 5:
Some at least. You never know how you will look after editing, but I am sure you will see a more pensive side. I think a lot, and I read a lot. It’s funny because people always say Teller doesn’t talk on stage, and Penn doesn’t talk off of it. I also never raise my voice — ever. I only raise my voice on stage when I am paid to do it. People can yell right in my face and I won’t raise my voice, that’s just not who I am.
But when he’s on point (hyping up a crowd at a fund-raiser, trying to generate enthusiasm for a celebrity charity event), he’s definitely on. He’s been compared to the (humorously) outspoken and often crude comedienne Lisa Lampanelli, who is also appearing alongside Jillette as a competing rival this season on Donald Trump’s show.
Surprisingly, even though his entertainment schtick is typically involves comedy and magic, he says his biggest influence has been musicians. Then again, performance art knows no boundaries, so the revelation is surprising but believable. He’s kind of a one man band in and of himself and a rock star in his chosen profession. Penn Gillette is well-known (and well liked) wherever he goes.
Jillette is hoping to win this season of Celebrity Apprentice to earn $250,000 for The Opportunity Village, called one of the most popular charities in Las Vegas, Nevada. The charity supports those with what it calls “intellectual disabilities.” While the term may seem a little crass to some (many prefer “special needs” or “challenged”) The Opportunity Village supporters have nothing but warmth in their hearts for the people they serve.
Founded in 1954 by families of children with disabilities, The Opportunity Village helps provide vocational training, recreation services, and employment assistance and services for those in need. To date, the program claims to serve over 3,000 clients annually, growing to become Nevada’s largest non-profit assistance organization for the intellectually disabled. Doing more than just raising funds, the organization helps those in need prepare for and secure jobs, contribute to the community, pay taxes instead of spend them, and otherwise live happier and more fulfilling lives.
While the organization is almost entirely self-funded, the Las Vegas star celeb is hoping to win a quarter million dollars for them, to keep their employment centers funded and even growing, while contributing to some of Southern Nevada’s most popular recreational programs.
But if Penn Jillette is about anything, he’s about doing the work himself as best he can. He considers himself a charitable libertarian (and atheist), but feels leaning on government to provide charity programs is the lazy way out.
The website Change Our Course reports Jillette as saying:
It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.
Donald Trump may decide Jillette doesn’t have what it takes to cut it in business, but we can’t help rooting for him.
Who do you think Donald Trump should hire as the winner of Celebrity Apprentice 2012 — Penn Jillette? Or should he be fired? Sound off in the comments section below.