'Penn & Teller Tell a Lie' to debut on Discovery

If you lie awake at night wondering whether you can lift a car with a head of human hair, fend off a tiger attack by sticking your hand down the animal's throat, reduce pain by cursing a blue streak or stop a bullet with a butter knife, then your name is either Penn Jillette or Teller.

Or, you're the sort of science fan who will be fascinated by the comic magicians' new Discovery Channel show, "Penn & Teller Tell a Lie." All of those scenarios and more are put through rigorous scientific testing in their new interactive series that debuts Wednesday at 10 p.m.

The show will feature seven science packages in one hour, says Jillette, one half of the Vegas headlining duo. All are unbelievable stories; six are true. The audience can play along by voting for the "lie."

In a first of its kind for the channel, the audience will be able to interact live with the show through discovery.com or by downloading iPad or iPhone apps. Viewers can change their votes as often as they like, until the false scenario is revealed at the end of the episode, Jillette says. And the outcome on the West Coast will be different from the one shown during East Coast airing.

Last year, Penn and Teller ended their "Bullshit!" series, which ran on Showtime for seven years. While the premise of that show was very different from "Tell a Lie," the shows do share one basic quality.

"Bullshit was a positive ... show about the wonders of science and humanity," Jillette says. "This is kind of the same thing."

So far, six episodes of "Tell a Lie" have been filmed, all of them here in Vegas with most of the crew who worked on "Bullshit!" The show's writers dug around to find interesting scenarios that haven't been widely disseminated, Jillette says.

Viewers can expect to learn whether a snail really can crawl along a razor blade, as was mentioned in the movie "Apocalypse Now," whether piranha can kill humans, if a jet engine can blow out a forest fire and if a linen shirt can stop an arrow.

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564.