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Trivia / Penn & Teller

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  • Actor Allusion: One rendition of the water tank trick featured John Cleese as the mark, with the failed "Is this your card?" having "Basil" written on it.
  • Executive Meddling: Penn & Teller often speak of clashing with network executives who want them to soften their brand of humor and magic (some of which can be very dark) or incorporate silly extras to be more "hip". One positive example was when they wanted to televise their water tank trick on TV. Their original plan was to have it come in the middle of their special with Teller making a miraculous and unacknowledged recovery after a commercial break. An executive suggested making the trick a finale and leaving the home audience with a Downer Ending. Teller was about to launch into an argument when he realized it actually enhanced the trick's effect. Since then, whenever they perform the trick on TV, it's always at the end of the show to end things on a morbid note.
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  • He Also Did: Penn has a writing credit in Black Mirror of all things, having penned the "Pain Addict" section of the episode "Black Museum", based on a short story he wrote in the 80's.
  • Money, Dear Boy: They're not shy about how they like to make money, even performing on holidays that the Rio would happily let them take off.
  • Technology Marches On: A variation on the Pick a Card trick was performed on Saturday Night Live in 1986. Penn is live via remote in Times Square where he accosts a random tourist to perform the trick. Teller is back in the studio with an impressive (at the time) computer setup, describing the specs on the computer, twin Acorn Electras with 140 megabyte hard drives. One of the computers has the live remote feed, and the other is connected to the Jumbotron in Times Square, with the "online time paid in advance." It's called the "Most Expensive Card Trick," having been paid for with "$56,000 of NBC's money."note  The computer specs are impressive for 1986, but laughable today.
    • Which is HILARIOUSLY lampshaded when they do the trick again, for Fool Us.
  • What Could Have Been: They spent three years and around sixty thousand dollars developing a trick that would have involved Teller walking on water . . . as it spewed from a firehose. The idea was eventually abandoned as being impossible to perform on a wooden stage with nowhere to drain the excess water. There was discussion of performing it in a prefabricated room that would be brought onstage, but this was dismissed under the assumption that the audience would (mistakenly) believe the room itself was the key to the trick.

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