Even though he comes from the small western Massachusetts town of Greenfield, Penn Jillette of the Las Vegas duo of Penn & Teller is not exactly what one might call an outdoors enthusiast.
“No, no! Never!,” he tells Breitbart News. “I’m kind of like Fran Liebowitz. My definition of the outdoors is the distance from the cab to the front of the Four Seasons Hotel. I don’t go outdoors at all. It’s enough to play with my children. No, my idea of camping is…I’d like to be helicoptered into Burning Man, but that’s as close as I’m going to come.”
Jillette’s complete lack of wilderness survival skills didn’t deter Sportsman Channel from hiring him to be the host of its new show Camp Stew, premiering tonight (July 17) at 8 p.m. EST. Sort of a wildwoods version of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” the 10-episode, half-hour show features the illusionist, author, actor and musician introducing shocking and humorous clips in such categories as “Backyard Rambos,” “Outdoor Pranks” and “Girls and Guns.”
But it’s not an area that’s entirely unfamiliar to Jillette.
“My father hunted,” he says, “all my relatives were hunting and fishing. I grew up fishing and hunting and camping and all that stuff. And then, I tried really hard to lose my New England accent and become a little more urban, so that I could work in New York City and Las Vegas.
“But you get a moose with his antlers stuck in a swingset — that’s pure comedy.”
“Camp Stew” has already made Jillette a hero to his middle-aged nephew.
“He’s out of his mind that I’m doing this show,” he says. “It vindicates his whole life, that his city-slicker uncle is coming back to his roots and doing a show on a network that he actually watches. I’ve never been on a show on a network that he watches before.
While Jillette’s not spending his weekends wearing camo and sitting in duck or deer blinds, he’s cool with all of that, explaining, “[Sportsman] approached me, I think, mostly because I’m a libertarian, and I don’t automatically reject out of hand people that enjoy different kinds of freedom from me. I looked at what they wanted to do, and it seemed really funny.”
He continues, “You’ve got people like me and Teller, who are Las Vegas entertainers and thoroughly entrenched in left-wing Hollywood, but are as much in favor of the Second Amendment as we are the First. And I should also say, I’m very in favor of the Third Amendment, but it doesn’t come up much. We don’t house soldiers in peacetime in private residences, but if we did, I would be against it.
“Yes, I am not part of what you would consider the traditional hunting and fishing culture, and yet, I’ve come to that, because I’m so in favor of people having the freedom to live their lives the way they want, and then we end up watching videos of deer attacking people.”
Asked if there’s any chance that he might head into the Alaska backcountry one day soon with Sportsman Channel’s other big star, host Sarah Palin of Amazing America–which was recently picked up for a second season—Jillette says, “Oh, you know, there’s always a chance. There was no chance I’d be on The Celebrity Apprentice, but there I was. There was no chance I’d be on a cooking show, and there I was.
“There was no chance I’d be friends with Lawrence O’Donnell and Glenn Beck. There’s no chance of that. No one else has done that in the history of the world. So, who knows if I’d wind up with Sarah Palin?”
Speaking of a moose with its antlers caught in a swingset ..