They defy labels, and at times, good taste. They’ve performed together for more than 25 years skewering the genre of magic, their sold-out audiences, and themselves -- very often all at the same time, within one mind-boggling evening.
And along the way, Penn & Teller have made the hardest trick of all – a remarkable career that ranges from stage to television to three best-selling books – look easy. And they’ve done it all on their own, distinctively offbeat terms.
They call themselves “a couple of eccentric guys who have learned how to do a few cool things.” Since first teaming up in 1975, when they combined Teller’s silent, occasionally creepy, magic with Penn’s clown college education and juggling expertise, the two have created an entertainment success story that went from the streets to small clubs to national theater tours, and now to a current, multi-year engagement at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
By 1985, Penn & Teller were receiving rave reviews for their Off Broadway show and Emmy award-winning PBS special, “Penn & Teller Go Public.” In 1987, they began the first of two successful Broadway runs. Penn & Teller had national tours throughout the 1990s, gaining critical praise from New York to San Francisco for bringing a fresh slant to an often-tired show business realm.
The first of more than 20 appearances on “Late Night with David Letterman” soon followed, along with appearances on a wide range of television: “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Miami Vice,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “Hollywood Squares,” “The Today Show,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Friends,” “Dharma & Greg,” “Home Improvement,” and one of television’s most honored rolls: animated guests on “The Simpsons.”
They also created their own television projects, including “Penn & Teller’s Sin City Spectacular,” “Penn & Teller’s Home Invasion,” the Showtime movie “Penn & Teller’s Invisible Thread,” and the NBC special “Don’t Try This at Home.” Penn & Teller made their big screen debut in Penn & Teller Get Killed and were featured in Walt Disney’s Fantasia 2000.
Penn & Teller’s understanding of magic and their ability to relate to audiences has also garnered serious academic attention. They serve as Visiting Scholars at MIT, that school’s highest honor, and have lectured at Oxford University and the Smithsonian Institution. In 2001, they received the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award.
Penn & Teller have written three best-selling books, Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends, How to Play with Your Food, and How to Play in Traffic and penned pieces in outlets ranging from The New York Times to Playboy.
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