Donny Osmond is my age. He is an interesting guy. While he appears a true-believing conservative Mormon to the outside world, I believe he has to be somewhat nuanced in his beliefs to make it as far as he has in the show business world. He has been a guest on the Howard Stern show, which is not for the faint of heart. Years ago, I heard him on a morning radio show here in Los Angeles with two of the “Shock Jocks”. They teased him about his sex life, and he gave it right back to them. He is also a good friend of Penn Jillette, of Penn&Teller fame. Penn is a hard core atheist, yet he and Donny get along well. Recently, Donny was on the Penn&Teller Fool Us TV show, where he participated in a card trick. The card trick performed by a guest magician was fabulous, with Penn calling it probably the best filmed card trick ever. I highly recommend you watch it (click here)

Penn has a podcast called “Penn’s Sunday School”.  On a recent episode, they were talking about the above card trick, and that got them to talking about Donny Osmond. Below is the conversation between Penn and his co-host Matt Donnelly. (I did this transcript myself, which is really hard and time consuming, and is not perfect, but gets the majority of words right!)

Matt: No one else as famous as Donny Osmond or those his age didn’t end up in Jail

Penn: That’s true. I think I’ve said this before, but I was sitting with Donny, a year ago or so we were sitting in a doctor’s office. We were both old guys, and we have the same cardiologist. This is Vegas, and the only two people in the waiting room were me and Donny. And I say to him “how did you end up not F$%ked up? How did that happen?”  He said “I met a girl, we fell in love, and my wife got me through all of it.”

Matt: Probably the truth. But also there is probably a psychotic nature in him to stay on the level. Like I’m sure he sticks by his rules. Somebody as successful as he is and still holding it together….

Penn: It’s really funny that the one person that makes it through all that craziness, the only way we can talk about it is he must be crazy. I mean he might also just be just a really good guy, with a moral center and a moral compass, and smart, he is really smart.  Put all that together, with self-control, and I think the thing we are avoiding saying is Mormonism.  He probably has religion and community that is not something Michael Jackson had.  I’m not saying Michael Jackson was not religious, But that Mormon community with all its craziness, and we know it’s crazy, but boy the community part of it is not. And that can hold you together, and give you strength.

Matt: Yes, I think that is it. I always say whenever I see the Mormon missionary kids on bicycles in the neighborhood I guess trying to spread the word, but they are probably just looking for other Mormons that have lemonade in their fridge. But I used to say “what a waste of time”, like they could be actually volunteering for a charity or something. But then I thought with all this crazy violence and stuff, thank goodness they have to ride with a buddy. I’m glad they are assigned to ride a bike with that guy. That is probably super helpful for them.

Penn: Well that’s one of the points of the Book of Mormon [the musical], Tre and Matt’s show that I kind of don’t agree with, but it’s also kind of true. The point of that, although they kind of make fun of all that stuff, they kind of hold on to the point that it kind of ends up making nice people. But boy is it a hard thing for me.

Matt: No I understand, with religion driving a lot of really shitty policy right now, we are not ready to give them a full pass

Penn: And overt, overt racisms and really bad stuff, but you don’t see any of that with Donny

Matt: No, and I don’t see that in my Mormon, or LDS, I don’t think they like Mormon anymore, in my LDS neighbors.  There is a strength in their community

Penn: And they have lemonade in their refrigerator.

Matt: They know where they are riding, they just don’t stumble on my next door neighbor’s house.

What do you think of Donny Osmond, and his career?

How nuanced do you think Donny is?

What do you think of Penn’s observations about Mormonism?