"The Invisible World" with Penn Jillette, Justin Schmidt, and Ted Ramirez | Live Wire Radio
"The Invisible World"
Penn Jillette, Justin Schmidt, and Ted Ramirez
This episode was originally taped at a live show on September 22, 2016 (Phoenix, AZ)

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Live Wire goes to Phoenix, where Luke attempts to eat the hottest pepper in the world, entomologist Justin Schmidt tells us what getting stung by thousands of insects has taught him about pain, magician Penn Jillette describes the startling benefits of eating only potatoes, and Tucson’s official troubadour Ted Ramirez sings a love song to his hometown.

Penn Jillette
You might call Penn Jillette a bit of a trickster. Not only is he famous for being the tall, speaking half of the comedy magic team, Penn and Teller—performing around the world and in several high profile residencies in Las Vegas since 1975 with his silent partner, Teller—but his Showtime series, Penn & Teller: Bulls@#%!, pretended to be strictly entertaining and delighting audiences when in fact it was debunking and disarming institutions as ubiquitous as monogamy, the Bible, the Boy Scouts of America, and—we’re not kidding--numbers. In 2013 he made it to the finale of, Celebrity Apprectice, and the Magic Castle recognized him and Teller as “Magicians of the Year.” Coincidence? You decide. His latest book is, Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales, chronicling his unconventional weight loss story. He’s a disappearing act that reappears where you’d least expect to find him.

Justin Schmidt
Not only did Justin Schmidt win a 2015 Ig Nobel Prize (awarded for important, improbable, and downright weird scientific accomplishments), but he delivered his acceptance speech at the ceremony in rhyme. Schmidt won the Ig Nobel in Physiology and Entomology for his creation of the “Schmidt Pain Index,” a chart that scales and rates the stings of dozens of insects, all according to Schmidt’s personal experience. The index was mentioned in the film Ant Man, among other places. The New York Times calls him “an expert in physical agony,” and “a connoisseur of pain.” He’s the author of the new book Sting of the Wild, and is the research director of the Southwest Biological Institute. Basically, he’s getting stung by nature’s little baddies for the greater good of all. Come by to thank him.

Ted Ramirez
If you’re looking for a piece of Southwestern culture made living, look no further than Ted Ramirez, the “Official Troubadour of Tucson.” For the uninitiated: Ramirez, the direct descendent of the first Spanish families to settle Arizona, was proclaimed Phoenix’s Official Troubadour back in 2001, by the city’s mayor and council. Not authentic enough for you? Give his guitar-laden folk music a listen and tell us you don’t picture the rough-hewn plains and buttes of Arizona. TELL US YOU DON’T SEE A DANG PAINTED PALOMINO. Don’t lie, because you can’t.