Zap2it: We’re riding on an open-air bus, and people are pointing up at us, taking photos; some are screaming. Does it feel a little like you are in a circus?
Penn Jillette: In 1971, they did the Loud family. With the writers strike, they created this form of unscripted television — for better or worse. And I fear for worse. The early part of this century will be judged by this. If it were the ’60s and ’70s, I would have wanted to be on “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “The Monkees.” This show defines our time. It is ego depletion.
Zap2it: You seem melancholy. Is it tough to be away from your family?
Penn Jillette: Doing “Celebrity Apprentice,” I am away for four weeks. My son asked if he could be on it to see Daddy. Before this, only two weeks was the longest time [I’ve been separated from family]. I still won’t go longer than two weeks.
Zap2it: Could you explain why you have a red nail?
Penn Jillette: That’s my dad’s ring and my mom’s nail polish. It was done originally to mock my mother, then it turned into affection, and now it is a tribute.
Zap2it: Where is your partner, Teller?
Penn Jillette: He wanted to go the Galapagos, and he wanted to direct “The Tempest” in Vegas.
Zap2it: Even though you’re the partner in your duo who does the talking publicly, you seem pretty quiet. Are you?
Penn Jillette: My mom and dad never raised their voices. It was unheard of, and I have raised my children as such.