Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 22nd, 2007
Flashback: This week Penn & Teller open their new season with replays of old episodes on Showtime Cable in the USA. Tonight at 9 PM, they repeat their “Cryptozoology” program, so I’ll repeat my blog critical of it.
What can you say about Penn & Teller? They left no sacred cryptids untouched by their silence and their profanity. Bottomline, you did not miss much “science” (despite their claims) if your cable system doesn’t get Showtime and you did not watch Penn & Teller’s April 24th show on “Cryptozoology.”
Let’s see, Penn & Teller made fun of Scott Norman, head of CryptoSafari. And they satirized the search for the Loch Ness Monsters via Richard Freeman and Jon Downes of the Centre for Fortean Zoology (“the world’s best mystery animal research group”).
Scott’s hat, his photos of his days in Mokele-Mbembe land, and his dinosaur “toys” were all the butt of Penn & Teller’s jokes. That Scott would believe native tales is ridiculed, needless to say, in loud profanity, by Penn & Teller.
Richard and Jon looked for Nessie with a small digital camera and a bag of fish heads. Penn & Teller had a good time with the souvenirs, the guys’ leather jackets, beards, and Nessie hats.
Clever editing and the setups they picked made cryptozoology look like the “craptozoology” that Penn & Teller wanted it to appear to be. As we have already discussed in the days leading up to this airing, Penn & Teller have made an entertainment show presenting itself as science, but it is more about ridiculing people than being logical. You can try to find the humor here, but one does have to look hard to get a laugh out of this show. It is a biting satire with no giggling, as far as can be seen from viewing it twice. Of course, I’m bias. I’ll admit that.
Concerning the Sonoma footage, Penn & Teller clearly show how they had taped it, and what suit they used. This should be another lesson in caution for the less than critical thinking Bigfoot hunting webmasters and Bigfooters, in general. Penn & Teller pulled it off, to their satisfaction. There’s always two sides to such investigations, but they can feel good in landing some marks with their gaff.
Penn & Teller’s production company, for the fake Sonoma video, appear to have employed a now widely available Bigfoot/Sasquatch costume from McAvene Designs of North Hollywood, California. The suits are fitted for muscular actors of the correct size (6’7″) for this show, and the looks of this one mirrors what appears on the Penn & Teller program.
Penn & Teller’s fake creators also made up “Mark Nelson,” and suckered in two “cryptozoologists,” one labeled “A****** #1″ and the other labeled “A****** A.” These two people, among many who contacted “Mark Nelson,” wanted to steer the fake “Nelson” through interviews, website exposure, and getting paid for his footage and interviews.
Penn & Teller would not identify these guys because their lawyer was afraid, but it is clear whom one of them is. This person wanted to assist “Mark Nelson” with getting his footage licensed for $5000 a showing, and get $6000 for an interview.
We now know the Sonoma footage was definitely faked by the Penn & Teller people and they used a big guy in a suit they showed. Okay, some people were fooled. We weren’t, as we’ve mentioned on Cryptomundo, and called this the “So-no-no-ma video.”
But the person who might come off the worst on this show, perhaps, is the one who positioned himself (or was manipulated and edited to do so) to eat his own, the former “cryptozoologist” Richard Ellis, who is shown as arrogant, elitist, and obnoxious. Here we have Ellis, the only one who gets to push his books, with huge full book cover shots, and he’s the one being displayed saying things like…most people in cryptozoology are just “in it for the fame,” doing this to “get on television” and get “big book contracts.”
Ellis is a nice guy, and like Scott Norman, I think some post-production editing has made Richard look like the devil. Watchers beware.
Penn & Teller may be problematic, with their tone, naked people on a cryptozoology show, swearing, yelling, lame jokes, creation of fakes, and weird sense of humor. Who will be the next new patsy for programs like Penn & Teller to interview?