Penn & 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.
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.
Penn Jillette is a gifted and entertaining writer of things magic and otherwise. We have reviewed his written work on this unworthy magic web site in the past and we’ll have a review of his newest book, God, No! Signs You May Already be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales next week.
Mr. Jillette could probably write a pretty decent Magic for Beginners book and teach basic sleights effectively. But that’s not how he chooses to use his remarkable talent. Like his silent partner, Teller, Mr. Jillette uses magic as a device or tool to offer his unique and usually correct perspective (from our point o’ view) of the topic or issue he has chosen to explain.
His writing seems effortless and spontaneous. We would like to think that style is a result of thousands of drafts, re-writes, third-party editing, and gut-wrenching revisions.
We presume, however, his writing style reflects his true persona. We don’t have that gift. In fact, the sentence, “We don’t have that gift” took two and a half hours to craft. We began with “we not as good as he is at writing that way,” worked our way towards “he is better at writing than speaking and he is very good at speaking too,” and finally “We don’t have that same ability that he, Penn Jillette has.”
Our point? We like Penn Jillette’s writing.
In fact, we are not ashamed to say we would marry his writing if such a thing were possible. We don’t know if that makes us gay for wanting to marry the writing style of a man, but if it does, we’ll take those slings and arrows and make lemonade served in slings with arrows for stirrers. Continue reading “Penn Jillette: Card Trick as Rhetorical Tool”→
Teller of Penn & Teller fame, is more than an incredible magician, writer, historian and inventor. He has a life outside the Penn & Teller Theater (that’s “Theatre” in metric).
He graduated from prestigious Amherst College in 1969 under the nom d’études (metric for “student name”) of Raymond Joseph Teller.
To ensure that our posting on the topic will be the most derivative of all on the topic, we cite Tom Shay from MassLive.com who in turn credits New York Magazine for the bird’s eye lowdown on Teller’s favorite movies about Magicians.
“The Great Buck Howard: The most accurate depiction of what it’s like to be in magic anywhere, because it’s so sad!
“A-Haunting We Will Go: One of the movies that made me fall in love with stage magic. Laurel and Harding encounter the actual magician Dante, and there’s a whole bunch of slapstick mix-ups.
“The Man from Beyond: It’s melodramatic crap, but it’s got Houdini, for crying out loud! You’re actually seeing Houdini on the screen!
“Nightmare Alley: Tyrone Power starts off as a sideshow magician, then does a mind-reading act, and he’s gradually tempted into being an evil crook. A hideously black downward spiral; and
“The Lady Vanishes: One of the most perfect movies ever made. And the fact that the evilest bad guy takes cover as a magician – that makes me laugh.”
You can read Tom Shay’s version of this list at MassLive.com here. We checked and checked but could not find a New York Magazine article on Teller or his favorite movies. We don’t doubt Tom Shay’s word, we just wanted to give credit where it was due.
In our discussion of Penn & Teller’s new UK television series Fool Us!earlier this week, we mentioned that Inside Magic favorite Shawn Farquhar thoroughly stumped the duo. We offered the incident to show how gracious and excited Penn & Teller were to be fooled.
We provided a YouTube link to Mr. Farquhar’s segment to prove the alleged “Bad Boys of Magic” are no different from any of us. They love magic and love to be fooled.
There were three contestants in this year’s International Brotherhood of Magicians Stage Competition who fooled us badly. It was a wonderful feeling. Our peanut size and shaped brain instantly switched from “figure it out” mode to “enjoy it” mode. Once we gave into the reality that the unreal was happening, we felt the same exhilaration experienced at the start of our 43 years in magic.
Back then it was a red plastic ball that appeared and disappeared from an interesting-looking royal blue plastic vase. We had no clue how it could be done and, as we say at the special meetings we are required to attend, “it’s okay.”
The sesame seed sized portion of our peanut-esque brain responsible for accepting or rejecting visual images based on their conformity some established measure of reality was delighted to take a break and let the impossible flow unhindered into our active consciousness. The effect is similar to shoving a peanut butter sandwich into a DVD player.
In our experience, most magicians want to be fooled.
They also want to learn secrets or hypothesize methods but that process comes later. Similar to falling in love at first sight, the experience of being mystified is precious, unique and always unanticipated. Love may fade immediately after the first sight and the baffled magician may wonder how he or she could have been fooled once the trick’s secret is known.