Tag: Penn & Teller

Bill Maher Hates Magicians – So What?

Inside Magic Image of Innovative BunnyIn a Las Vegas Review-Journal column by Doug Elfman this morning, comedian Bill Maher looks to stir up some controversy in advance of his show this Saturday at The Palms Casino.

Mr. Maher is reputed to be a star on HBO and takes pride in attacking people and groups.  Religions are fair game and so are conservatives and liberals.  It works for him so why stop with ideology and spirituality.

Whenever I talk to him, we’ll be talking about President Barack Obama, or weed, or Woody Harrelson, and then he will slip in a side joke that pokes fun at illusionists.  Maher mocks magicians mercilessly.

“When we started back in the old days, before the iWatch, practically before answering machines, in New York, no matter how good you were, you could never do better in the small clubs than the magician guy or a guy with puppets,” Maher said.

Maher goes on to insult Cirque du Soleil, drop names of famous comedians with whom he recently worked and stroke The Palms as a wonderful place to work.

He likes Penn & Teller, though.  They are not typical magicians so they escape his wrath.

We have already given too much space to him but we thought you should know.

Penn & Teller: Fool Us and Masters of Illusion Renewed for 2015

Inside Magic Image of Penn & Teller's Fool UsAccording to Variety, the CW has ordered another season of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” and “Masters of Illusion” for 2015.

That is great news for magic fans and portends great things for the future of our great art.

Fool Us originally aired ITV in the UK in 2011.  The production team edited those episodes and repackaged the shows for the CW’s US broadcast this year.

The series received consistently great ratings and – if you asked us – it was a no-brainer for the network to order a new season.

That’s good news but even better news is that they will need to shoot new shows to meet the CW’s order. Penn Jillette promised if renewed, they would film in the US and with US magicians. We have no doubt he will keep his promise.

“Masters of Illusion” had some fantastic acts in this year’s episodes. We do not know if they will need to tape additional acts to meet the renewal order but will report as soon as we hear.

This is great news indeed.

Mirror Online Asks Readers to Choose Best TV Magician

Inside Magic Image of Tommy CooperThe Mirror Online (UK), looking to build excitement for the launch of the fourth series of Dynamo: Mission Impossible, is asking readers to vote for their favorite TV magician.

You should head over to the site and make your choice from:
Darcy Oake
David Blaine
Derren Brown
David Copperfield
Dynamo
Paul Daniels
Penn & Teller
Tommy Cooper
Troy

There is no space for a write-in vote but they do have clips from the nominees – including our inspiration, Tommy Cooper. (Unfortunately, the sound goes out near the end of the clip but it is still a joy to watch).

Click here to link to the poling site. We don’t know if it will allow you to vote more than once but perhaps that is a concern for us Chicago natives. The rest of the world likely never considers stuffing the ballot box.

Penn & Teller’s Fool Us Soars in Ratings

Inside Magic Image of Penn & Teller's Fool UsPenn & Teller’s Fool Us hit a series high with last night’s episode – according to the industry trade publication Variety.

The show seems to be catching on with American audiences and we have our fingers crossed that the CW network will develop a second season, set in the United States. Penn has been discussing the possibility on his weekly podcast, Penn’s Sunday School, but has been very sketchy about whether the CW will pick up the series for a new round.

We hope the ratings boost proves to the folks at the CW to develop the show here with American magicians. We will keep you up-to-date on any developments.

Penn & Teller’s Fool Us Television Show Starts Tonight!

Inside Magic Image of Penn & Teller's Fool UsPenn & Teller’s Fool Us appears in the United States starting tonight. We are excited. We usually hate Wednesdays which we call “hump day” because it was when we were usually forced to visit our hunchback great aunt. Now we have a reason to love Wednesdays.

Fool Us was a big hit in the UK last year and it is our understanding its US run will consist of 9 episodes from that series. If folks here enjoy it as much as they did over there, Penn & Teller say the network may launch the show for American audiences with more American magicians.

In an interview with The Chicago Sun-Times, Penn gives fans of the show hope of a US version:

We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves here, but if U.S. audiences like this, and the ratings justify it, the CW tells us we’ll do a second American season — with American magicians. Although there are wonderful, wonderful magicians in the U.K., there quite simply better ones — and more of them — in the U.S.A. It’s simply that America is a bigger country with more magicians out there. That’s all it is.

Penn, Teller and all real magicians enjoy being fooled. We echo Penn’s declaration except for the part about his mom:

Those that fooled us, fooled the pants off us! It was the exact feeling I had when my mom did the first magic trick for me when I was 6! I got that same feeling with this show. It’s a feeling of your whole world being discombobulated for a moment. It’s just glorious!

The show’s premise is simple. A magician comes on, performs a trick and if he or she fools Penn & Teller then he or she wins. If they can figure out how the trick was done, he or she loses.

We appreciated how Penn & Teller took great care to make sure they did not expose methods but provided just enough information to the contestant to confirm that they knew the secret.

Our favorite performers of the series were Piff the Magic Dragon and Shawn Farquhar. Piff makes us laugh no matter what he says. Shawn blows our mind no matter what he does. We were blown away by his card effect and hope it is in the series shown here in the US.

So now you know where we will be tonight. We have a flat screen television viewable from our kitchen in our apartment next to the bakery for dog treats here in West Hollywood. True, it is not our television but in the apartment across the alley but we bought a remote on eBay that works and know for a fact that the young couple who live there will be out tonight. We will be perched on our kitchen counter watching – and if our neighbors have left their windows open, listening.

Read a great interview with Penn about the show in The Sun-Times here.

Penn & Teller Dish from London

Inside Magic Image of Penn & TellerPenn & Teller are in London and the toast of the town with great press. We read this morning’s Telegraph for a nice interview with the duo. They express their admiration for Derren Brown, “He’s one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen. He really puts a lot of intelligence and thought into it. He’s an artist,” said Teller.

They profess only luke-warm enthusiasm for Dynamo, “Teller says that while they admire his skills, ‘we know people like Johnny Thompson who’s 78 – and by comparison with whom [Dynamo’s] skills are somewhat… minimal. Compared with some of the old masters of this stuff.’”

They respect David Copperfield’s incredible work-ethic but bemoan the otherwise dormant magic scene.

“[Copperfield] does really good tricks, and he’s always doing new ones. But there aren’t many [magicians], you know?” Penn says heavily. Yes, there’s Siegfried and Roy, “but since Roy got his head bit off by a tiger, that slows him down somewhat. David Blaine doesn’t really do anything now. Why not? I don’t know. I don’t think he made that much money.”

We note that this is the latest in their 40 years of giving interviews where they fail to mention Inside Magic. Perhaps they are saving their effusive praise for our dogged coverage for a big presser once they return to Las Vegas. Yes, that is most certainly it. After all, tens of readers over the course of twenty years adds up to a statistical probability that they have heard of us.

We are most fascinated by behind the scenes stuff. We love logistics. So, for us, the key nuggets came at the end of the article wherein we learn the two get together on Tuesdays each week to brainstorm new tricks. That is the kind of geeky, inside information that makes us giddy. We would love to be present during one of those sessions. We wouldn’t say a word or even give some sort of indication of our existence – sort of as if we were a fly or insect in the room – we would just listen and relish the moment.

We learned that they have been working on a new effect that sounds pretty interesting. They are looking for a way to perform the Vanishing Elephant but with a live cow dressed as an elephant. We don’t know why that sounds cool but it does. We cannot imagine it is easy to work with cows and note that very few magicians have used cows in their acts in the last twenty years.

We knew of a former husband and wife act (former because they divorced) in which the husband referred to his wife as a cow on stage but that does not count. She didn’t vanish but did get a lawyer. He is doing close-up now and has “returned to ‘real magic’” with just a deck of cards and a few coins.” We suspect his new emphasis on cards and coins had something to do with the results of his divorce settlement.

Penn & Teller, like David Copperfield, seem to be asked the same questions by all interviewers. They do their best to give interesting answers and some reporters follow-up with interesting questions that lead to new information. Not often, though. That is not their fault. The Telegraph article is one of the better interview pieces we have read and worth your consideration.

Is Penn & Teller’s Fool Us Coming to US TV?

Inside Magic Image of Penn & Teller's Fool UsAccording to reports from the Television Critics Association meeting, the CW just purchased nine episodes of Penn & Teller: Fool Us for U.S. broadcast.

The show is fantastic but previously only available in the UK.

Aspiring magicians perform their best trick and if Penn & Teller cannot figure out the secret, the magician wins a trip to Vegas to perform at the Rio Hotel and Casino.

There have been some great performances including that of Inside Magic Favorite Shawn Farquhar.  Check out the YouTube version of his work here.

It appears the CW deal is to purchase the rights for the nine episodes already filmed.  There was no word on whether the broadcaster would have rights to make a second season for the US.

Here’s hoping.

Penn & Teller: First Ever UK Tour Dates Announced

Inside Magic Image of Penn & TellerMagicians of great ability Penn & Teller will be returning to the United Kingdom in February 2014 to entertain  fans in Manchester, Birmingham and London.

The incredible duo bring their Vegas act to Manchester, then Birmingham and onto London for a five big nights at the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith in London.

This is their first UK tour but they are familiar with the environs as hosts of their own ITV television show, Fool Us.

Tour promoters promise no two shows will be the same and so to us it makes sense to attend every show in every location.

Penn & Teller have about four decades of sold out runs on Broadway, world tours and of course Las Vegas.  Their television shows have garnered Emmys and an ever-increasing fan base.

Named ‘Las Vegas Magicians of the Year’ six times for their nightly performance at The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, they have repeat visits from magicians, magic-lovers and folks out for a profoundly entertaining evening.

We have it on very good authority that Penn and Teller will be appear in June 2014 at Manchester Palace Theatre on Friday the 13th, Birmingham Alexandra Theatre on Sunday the 15th and from Wednesday the 18th through to the 22nd at London’s Eventim Apollo Hammersmith.

Tickets go on sale Friday 6th December at www.livenation.co.uk or www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

Pilobolus, Penn & Teller This Summer

Inside Magic Image of Penn & TellerWe first heard of Pilobolus on Penn Jillette’s Sunday School podcast when Teller outlined his plans for a magic-influenced rendition of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Teller is following up on his very successful tour of Macbeth and provided his initial thoughts on how he would present The Tempest.

He told the podcast listeners the staging will reflect influence from Harry Willard and Tom Waits.

You need to listen to the full interview; we cannot do justice to Teller’s description and ability to describe a scene.

There are few people we can listen to for longer than five minutes.  Teller is someone to whom we could listen for days.  Perhaps it is his obvious love for magic or the great stories he has to share or his dramatic tone.

We do not know how or why but we can say we love listening to what he has to say.

Teller suggested they may enlist the assistance of the talented dance troupe Pilobolus to portray the monster Caliban.  He and Penn heaped praise a plenty on Pilobolus for a good ten minutes of the podcast.  We made a mental note to learn more of these dancing people.  If they are good enough for Penn & Teller, they are certainly good enough for us assembled philistines.

As usual, we digress.

Anyway, The New York Times reported today that the very same Pilobolus will be performing at the Joyce Theater this summer.  Penn & Teller will appear in Pilobolus’ new piece [esc], presenting “the ultimate in gripping, do-not-try-this-at-home choreography.”   Continue reading “Pilobolus, Penn & Teller This Summer”

The Year of Penn Continues

Inside Magic Image of Magician and Author Penn JillettePenn & Teller joined the select few included in the UNLV Entertainer & Artist Hall of Fame this weekend. Siegfried Fischbacher and Lance Burton attended, showing their support for the magic duo.

Former Nevada Lieutenant Governor, lounge singer and hall of fame member Lorraine Hunt-Bono presented the team their beautiful and pointy crystal trophies. Teller broke his silence to say "thanks" to the attendees.

Las Vegas Sun columnist John Katsilometes has deigned 2012 to be The Year of Penn:

I'd joked that 2012 was shaping up as the Year of Penn, given his ubiquitous-ness in the first 4 months of this year. Jillette even showed up at Marty Allen's 90th birthday party celebration at Palace Station on Saturday afternoon, joining a similarly odd collection of celebs and newsmakers onstage at Louie Anderson Theater that included Allen, Mayor Carolyn Goodman (presenting Allen with a key to the city), former mayor Oscar Goodman, Anderson and Allen's wife, Karon Kate Blackwell.

It does seem Penn is appearing in more places and garnering more television time. We have seen him on political talk shows, British stump the magician series and of course The Celebrity Apprentice. He survived last night's episode and thus continues his fund-raising for Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas foundation providing vocational training for our fellow citizens with intellectual disabilities.

"If I worked all the time I was on 'Celebrity Apprentice,' and gave all that money instead to Opportunity Village (laughs), they would do better," he says. "But I give them a lot of attention, no question about that, I have raised awareness. So you can't be too cynical about it."

Penn & Teller continue to entertain capacity crowds at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and offer the best magic per dollar spent in town.