Presto! By Penn Jillette

Presto! By Penn Jillette
Presto! By Penn Jillette

Presto! By Penn Jillette

My son celebrated his 12th birthday last week. And fortunately, (maybe because he’s not yet a teenager) he still wants to emulate me!

So just like Dad, he’s gone on a reading tear since the beginning of the year —  and polished off more than 100 age-appropriate books in less than four months.

Recently, however, he’s been asking to read whatever book I’m reading. He loved Walking with Peety and just finished Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra So, when he heard me laughing my way through magician/comedian Penn Jillettes’s Presto!, he was even more intrigued.

The conversation went something like this:

“Dad, can I read Presto! when you’re done?”
“No, this book is too explicit.”
“It seems like it’s really funny. You’re laughing a lot.”
“It’s by a comedian, but he has a lot of adult humor.”
“Can I read it and just skip the bad parts?”
“You cant skip the bad parts. Every single page has cussing and sex jokes, so maybe you should wait until you’re a little older.”
“Oh, okay.”

Adult humor aside, it’s a wildly exhilarating ride. Jillette chronicles his journey from accepting his gross obesity to dropping 105 pounds under the guidance of weight-loss “cult leader” (and respected plant-based author) Ray Cronise.

If you’ve been following my book reviews, you’ll recognize Ray’s name from The Healthspan Solution and Plant-Based Nutrition. And CrayRay, as Jillette calls him, is definitely the hero of this tale.

By starting Jillette off with two weeks on a potato-only mono-diet,” CrayRay worked some magic of his own!

Eating potatoes and nothing but potatoes – no salt, oil, or sauce, Jillette dropped about 20 pounds in just two weeks.

After the two-week potato diet, CrayRay re-introduced Jillette to corn. For sheer tasting pleasure, it was an experience he’ll never forget:

When we took our first bite of corn, there was no weeping or giggling; there were belly laughs. It was shocking. It was nothing like any corn Ive ever tasted… And it wasnt just sweet, either. Those ears of corn had so many flavors. Those ears of corn were sweet like life.”

Jillette is honest about the extreme nature of his weight-loss program and accepts that it’s not for everyone. But by gradually introducing more vegetables, fruits and nuts to his meals, he’s become a much thinner and healthier vegan — and remained so for nearly four years!

Once he’d hit his target weight with CrayRay’s help, Jillette became a follower of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s (affectionately dubbed “Fuhrburger’s”) Eat to Live program. Just what has going plant-based done for him?

 Whole plants, CrayRay, and my doctor got me really healthy… Dr. Fuhrburgers recipes all have this clean, healthful feel. I like feeling clean and healthy. I like my stomach working right and my skin clearing up and my arthritis going away. I love the health… Furhburgers diet—plant-based, avoiding oil, salt, sugar, and refined grains—dont bring da funk.”

Jillette’s transformation was so obvious that many of his sick and overweight friends begged to know how his secret. He turned many of them on to CrayRay — and was delighted to see them also leave fat and sickness far behind.

And the brash, irrepressible, and sometimes profane spirit that’s kept Penn and Teller front and center in the comedy magic world for 40 years? It shows up in Jillette’s unique approach to answering the questions all vegans eventually face.

Take his chapter titled “You say “PROTEIN,” I say “F*CK YOU”. And he’s not kidding! Over the next five pages, the F-bomb shows up 25 times.

His no-B.S. transparency makes Presto! a welcome change from the usual weight-loss book. I’ll wait a while before recommending it to my twelve-year-old son. But for anyone old enough to appreciate a big, bold, and bawdy read, Presto! is a true breath of fresh air!

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