Talkin’ to Penn, Schoolin’ Joe Rogan Part II

By Phil Plait | February 6, 2007 10:27 pm

In Part I of our saga, I talked about being on Penn and Teller’s Showtime program debunking the Moon Hoax. While at that meeting, Penn asked me if I knew who Joe Rogan was. Well, duh: comedian and host of "Fear Factor". Then Penn informed me that Joe is a nutzoid conspiracy theory freak who thinks the Moon landings were faked! (By the way, I am paraphrasing, but only slightly, what Penn said).

Then Penn laughed, and said how cool it would be to get Joe and me on his radio show together so we could duke it out.

And thus we come to Part II of our saga.

First, I’ll cut to the chase: I did the show with Joe Rogan. We got along great; Joe is funny, smart, quick-witted, and in fact a nutzoid lunatic — something I’m sure he’d agree with — and really wrong about the Moon Hoax… but I like him! We had a lot of fun on the show together.

Penn has it up as a podcast now, so you can hear it for yourself.

Stick through to the end when Joe goes ballistic; Penn and I were laughing our heads off. Joe is really funny.

So while you’re downloading that, here’s the back story.

At TAM 5, Penn invited me again to be on his radio show. I gave my Moon Hoax talk on Saturday, and right afterwards I was whisked away to Penn’s house, called The Slammer — he has his radio studio there. If you haven’t seen The Slammer (it’s been featured in more than one TV show) it’s based on a prison house. When you get there, you have to be buzzed in through the gate. You go through the gate, and are stopped by another gate. You have to wait for the first one to close before the second will open (an obvious security feature at prisons).

Once inside, well, it’s like a funhouse. I could have spent days there poking around, but we were short on time. Still, I did a smart thing. Right after my talk at TAM I had to go to the bathroom, and I was going to use the hotel facilities when I was struck with a thought: I bet Penn’s bathroom is a whole lot more interesting than the hotel’s!

I was right. It’s done up just like a prison bathroom, with stainless steel everywhere. The fixtures were a lot nicer than a prison bathroom (I assume) but otherwise it was convincing– in fact, I was told some of Penn’s friends won’t use that bathroom due to "bad memories". Draw your own conclusions. Anyway, the toilet seat was what made me laugh out loud: it’s made of transparent plastic, and there is razorwire embedded in it. Here’s proof:

So we get to the studio, and things started up. Joe called in, which is perhaps all for the best– Penn told me a couple of harrowing stories about how Joe treats hecklers at his comedy gigs. I will absolutely NOT repeat them here, but if you ever meet me in person, ask me. I’m sure Joe would like to have his rep enhanced, so I’m happy to relay the stories.

I have to add that the table in Penn’s studio at which we sat had a laminated top, and underneath was arrayed a whole slew of vintage nudie playing cards. I was immediately reminded of my dad’s old Playboys from the 1960s. Concentrating became difficult.

Still and all, the hour went just beautifully. I was nervous about how it might go, but Penn is the consummate host — he was very outgoing, and said several times that he had been expecting great things from the show, but the actual event exceeded his hopes. Joe and I sparred a little bit, but just a bit. He really is extremely well-versed in the Moon Hoax theories, and knew his stuff. I think he really does think it was faked, but I also think he is still open to good arguments. Well, some– he didn’t buy everything I said (which is fine) and we had several moments of confusion over the dust disturbances left by the landers on the Moon, but overall it went really well. In fact, I would say I kicked Rogan’s backside all over the studio.

OK, maybe that’s unfair. But as I’ll get to in Part III of this tale, Rogan turns the tables and I find myself, well, not doing so well when we have our rematch on Penn’s show. But with that we will deal when the second show goes on Penn’s website. Soon, my young paduwans, soon.

In the meantime, check out Penn’s pictures of me, Joe Rogan, and other guests. Here’s mine of us (click it for a bigger version):

And finally, Esquire magazine has a great interview with Penn and Teller. It sums them up pretty well.


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