The big guy distracts you so you won't watch the little guy...Penn & Teller
are an American double-act, comedians and stage magicians, with a regular gig at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Penn Jillette is the tall, talkative one with long dark hair. Teller
is the short one who never speaks
and makes amusing facial expressions
on the frequent occasions when Penn exposes him to danger. They were introduced to one another by a mutual friend in 1975. Ever since then, they've done most of their work together, developing their own rather quirky style of magic.
The pair have a wide fraud-busting streak, which got its widest exposure in their Showtime TV show, Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
. A running theme in their work is truth, lies and deception, with many parts of their stage magic routine built around lampshading
the fact that magic is all about deceiving the audience. Many of their tricks also play on the audience's visceral reaction to tricks that appear
dangerous but are in fact completely safe, celebrating the fantasy that two guys can shoot guns into each other's mouths
and emerge from it completely unharmed.
Aside from their various stage shows, Penn & Teller's body of work includes:
- Penn & Teller's Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends, a 1987 straight-to-video release including punchlines for seven different tricks to play on one's friends and instructions for performing them.
- Penn & Teller's Invisible Thread, a 1987 Showtime made-for-TV movie about how a stupid magic trick saves the human race from being wiped out by aliens for being redundant.
- Penn & Teller Get Killed, a 1989 Black Comedy film directed by Arthur Penn (no relation to Penn Jillette) in which fictionalized versions of Penn and Teller perform tricks, play practical jokes on one another and try to escape from assassins.
- The Unpleasant World of Penn and Teller (on-screen title: Penn and Teller), a 1994 UK TV series where the pair perform many of their best-known tricks in front of a studio audience, with several British celebrities including John Cleese and Stephen Fry appearing as guests.
- Phobophilia, a filmed 1995 stage show where Penn and Teller perform various tricks and skits exploring Primal Fears. Noteworthy for including a full version of their famous double Bullet Catch trick.
- Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour, a three-part 2003 documentary miniseries where they travel to China, Egypt and India to study the traditional culture of magic. Notably, Teller talks twice in the Egypt episode.
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, a highly successful Showtime series that ran from 2003-2010, where they call out various pseudoscience and political causes they consider to be bullshit.
- Penn & Teller: Fool Us, a 2011 ITV series, hosted by Jonathan Ross, where a variety of magicians attempt to fool Penn and Teller with tricks of their own. Those who succeed get to perform on their stage in Las Vegas.
- Penn & Teller Tell A Lie, a 2011 Discovery Channel show where each episode presents six or seven unbelievable stories, one of which is a lie.
- Three jointly written books, Penn & Teller's Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends (1989), Penn & Teller's How to Play with Your Food (1992), and Penn & Teller's How to Play in Traffic (1997). They feature both instruction in simple magic tricks and practical jokes and various stories and anecdotes from the two of them.
- Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors, a 1995 video game that was never formally released but got leaked by a reviewer who had received an advance copy of the game. It is most famous for its "Desert Bus" minigame.
- Lots and lots of talk show appearances and many cameos all over the place, including:
- The Simpsons episodes "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder" and "The Great Simpsina" (Teller speaks in both and acted as magic consultant for the latter)
- The Futurama movie "Into the Wild Green Yonder"
- The Babylon 5 episode "Day of the Dead", as Rebo & Zootie, the 23rd century's greatest comedy duo
- One of the Celebrity Fear Factor episodes (as one contestant; Teller performed all the stunts while Penn stood around talking and betting on the outcome)
- The West Wing, where they performed one of their stage tricks, involving a flag-burning, in the White House
- Fantasia 2000, where they presented the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch, with various appearances from Penn as Drell, head of the Witches' Council, and some from Teller too
- Their own haunted house at Universal Studios Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights event in 2012: Penn and Teller New(kd) Las Vegas. Basic premise is: Penn and Teller try out a new trick involving a nuclear warhead...which predictably fails. Guests now have to travel through the mutant filled husk of a city that was Las Vegas while Penn and Teller (through various videos placed throughout the maze) try to convince the guests that everything is ''perfectly fine''. Penn and Teller had a significant role in the development of the house and even flew to Orlando to greet guests, hand out 3D glasses, and finally walk through the house during one set and spent part of the night standing in the finale scene. Takes extreme artistic license.