If you’ve ever seen Penn and Teller on television before, then you know it’s not just about the magic. It’s about the show, as Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller have a rather bizarre yet monstrously entertaining comedy act. Their chemistry is a classic, with Penn doing most of the talking and joking, and Teller acting the mime, hardly even speaking.
The duo specialize in unorthodox Las Vegas magic tricks, the likes of which include gory stunts, revealing the “secrets” of old magic tricks, and plenty of pranks. Classic tricks of the duo usually involve Teller subjected to life-threatening situations, including hanging upside down over a cushion of spikes (while confined in a straitjacket), being submerged in a tank of water, and being run over by a tractor-trailer. The “gore” is not real and of course, Teller is never in danger. However, the Python-esque shock value of what is happening is part of the duo’s shtick and it’s a killer of comedy.
What is the secret to Penn and Teller’s success? One of the reasons is the fact that they are a Vegas show, and everything in Vegas is memorable because it becomes part of the Las Vegas allure and identity. Penn and Teller have immortalized themselves as Vegas performers, and have a wonderfully receptive audience every time they take the stage. Their unique and anarchic comedy approach to magic has to be another factor, in an industry of hammy magicians who do traditional standup or no comedy at all.
Penn actually told Larry King that he believes they are successful because of the fact that they are not close friends. He told King that besides the magic, they don’t have much in common and rarely socialize outside of work. Penn and Teller most recently crashed the Daytime Emmy Awards and did yet another gore trick: the duo announced they would “stab” the correct name for Best Supporting Actor. Teller, with a blindfold, then stabbed a knife into a table of cards and then…whoops, into Penn’s hand! The best part was all those worried looks from the Emmy-nominated audience.
If you’re heading over to Las Vegas, Nevada don’t miss an opportunity to see a Penn and Teller show live and in person. It’s so much more enjoyable when you can hear the duo up close (or at least hear Penn) and see the fake blood splatter. Penn and Teller are the most popular magic act in America today and they have a loyal Vegas following to thank for it!
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