Rewind: Penn & Teller on Cryptozoology

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.”

Penn & Teller

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.

Penn & Teller

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.

Bigfoot Suit

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.

Bigfoot Suit

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?

Penn & Teller

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

10 Responses to “Rewind: Penn & Teller on Cryptozoology”

  1. Grant responds:

    I’ve never seen their show, but there’s hardly any bigger cliche than magicians as debunkers. And doing it with comedy doesn’t make it that much less of a cliche.

  2. wildmanmarty responds:

    I am glad you posted this photo of the monkey suit. It drives home the obvious differences between such costumes and the Patterson figure. If you put the two photos side by side, the head of the man in the suit appears several inches higher above shoulder level than “Patty”. The arms seem almost stubby in comparison to “Patty”. The more I compare the two, the more convinced I am that the Patterson footage is genuine. Either that, or Roger found an extraordinarily tall and proportionately abnormal human to play the role. Hey, where is this guy hiding now? Nice hair on the monkey suit, though.

  3. DWA responds:

    That’s a good suit.

    And it’s so much worse than the P/G ‘suit’ that it’s pathetic. Human-scale proportions are abundant, top to bottom, the exact opposite of the P/G critter, who defies them at every measurement.

    A 1967 “suit,” mind you. Nineteen-hunnert-six-dee-sebben. And it makes a 21st-century suit look like a joke. (And the latter is better than any ape suit of the sixties. Although not much.)

    There is nothing lamer than comedians trying to be nasty.

  4. mystery_man responds:

    It’s funny to me that Ellis would expound cryptozoology as the way to money and fame. As far as I know, most cryptozoologists are not wallowing in either of those things and most that are truly doin it for the research are not even neccessarily desiring them. If you want money and fame, this is probably not the field for you. But then again, look at the ones associated with cryptozoology that DO have money and a bit of fame. Ellis and Biscardi. What’s wrong with this picture?

  5. Drat responds:

    Those guys are good magicians, but their show is pretty much crap. I remember when they “debunked” hypnotism. It was a pretty stupid show. I’ve also read they resort to some pretty low tactics to get the narrative they want. Misrepresentations and fake footage, that kind of thing.

    Basically it’s a show pretending to be a critical look at stuff but the audience clearly can’t take a critical look at the show or the whole thing comes down like a house of cards.

    The big one, whichever he is, is basically a loudmouth fathead as my dear dad would put it. I like the little one, at least he knows when to keep his mouth shut 🙂

  6. DavidFullam responds:

    I have the Richard Ellis book “Monsters of the Sea.” I just love the way Ellis has shifted from one extreme to another in recent years. In the book he launches into a passionate defense of the St. Augustine carcass as Giant Octopus, basically calling A. E. Verrill an idiot for thinking it was a whale. Now that the South America carcass has everyone thinking that all the globs are whale remains, he has jumped the fence big time. He was on some show about aquatic enigmas and said something to the effect of “There are still mysteries in the ocean, that doesn’t mean we will find sea serpents or the giant octopus.” He said it with such venom that it came across as a personal attack on anyone who believes that the giant octopus may exist. I wonder how he now feels about the Gloucester Sea Serpent?

  7. DWA responds:

    The biggest idiots in cryptozoology are, in no particular order:

    1. Those who will accept, and trumpet, anything as proof;

    2. Those who treat others like idiots.

    It’s nice that some folks precede themselves with the cue “you can pretty much toss anything I say.”

  8. ladd responds:

    The title says it all “Rewind: Penn & Teller On Cryptozoology.” They must be running out of magic tricks to perform. After this fiasco perhaps they’ll make themselves disappear for good.

  9. kittenz responds:

    I’ve never been a big fan of Penn & Teller.

  10. YourPTR! responds:

    Me either. I’m not a fan. I have never seen that show but I don’t need to watch to know that I wouldn’t be interested in its mocking content. The Sonoma footage was a pretty obvious hoax from the start, as these things usually turn out to be. The costume is one of the better ones though, but the arms are far too short, being of human dimensions. Nice try, but definitely no cigar! 🙂

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