Penn & Teller come to Hard Rock Event Center at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. this Thursday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m.
For more than 40 years, Penn & Teller have defied labels by redefining the genre of magic and inventing their very own niche in comedy. The Emmy Award-winning duo has sold out on Broadway, toured worldwide and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Penn & Teller have also appeared on hundreds of television series including “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Friends,” “The Simpsons,” “The Colbert Report,” “Modern Family” and “The Big Bang Theory.”
Currently the duo hosts the hit series “Penn & Teller: Fool Us!” for The CW Network, on which both up-and-coming and veteran magicians attempt to fool Penn & Teller for a chance to star in the duo’s hit Las Vegas stage show. The show was nominated for a 2017 Critic’s Choice Award and will be returning for a sixth season in June 2019. Their acclaimed Showtime series, “Penn & Teller: BS!” was nominated for 13 Emmys and was the longest running series in the history of the network. The show tackled the fakes and frauds behind such topics as alien abduction, psychics and bottled water.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Penn Jillette for this exclusive Hotspots interview:
Do you remember the first magic trick you saw and the first magic trick you did?
The first magic trick I saw I can’t remember as I have an odd relationship with magic as growing up I did not like it. Most people who are magicians start very young, but I didn’t. I would tune into Ed Sullivan and I would want to see the Rock and Roll bands and when they played the magicians I hated it. The reason I hated it was because I didn’t like deceiving people. I was very interested in juggling and started very young. I started looking at Juggling books which was next to the Magic books, so I started handling cards. I met teller in High school and he was very into magic. He told me “magic can be honest as we can tell people we are doing tricks….magic is essentially intellectual” that was the sentence he said that blew my mind. Every magic trick has intellectual content. These ideas changed my view towards magic.
When did you start taking magic serious?
Probably the week after I met Teller. I was 17 or 18. All of a sudden magic seemed like it could possibly be smart.
When did you realize it would be your career?
I desperately wanted to be in show business and I learned to juggle to get out of my home town. When Teller and I started together it felt like Teller would do magic and I would do comedy. Shortly afterwards, I realized we work better together. I decided my career would be with Teller before I realized it would be with magic.
How did you guys come up with the gimmick that Teller wouldn’t talk?
I had nothing to do with that. When we met, teller was already working silently. He worked his way through college doing magic at frat parties. He found for his personality if he didn’t say anything people grew weary about heckling.
We were fascinated with the idea that could we do a one man show with a partnership. We need each other.
Do you have a favorite magic trick that you do?
Our double bullet catch is my favorite as we have worked on it for two years. It’s a trick that has killed 15 people on stage. We tell our audience “we are good, so there is no danger.” The best part is that no one knows how it is done.
However, my favorite trick to perform is always the newest things we are doing.
How does it feel to be the longest running magic show in Vegas and have won Magicians of the Year eight times?
It is very strange as I know people whose goals are to be in Vegas or to be on Broadway, this was never our goal. We had a desire to perform for people.
We expected to play for about 200 people a night in smaller theaters for the rest of our lives, when we achieved that in the late 70’s.
However, we do enjoy the bigger venues and the bigger tools we have to work with.
These accolades are wonderful and yes we do brag about it. However, the most important thing is to always work with Teller.
As a big fan of the show Penn & Teller Fool Us, I was wondering how that show came to be, and do you enjoy filming it? How frustrating is it when you can’t figure out the trick?
It came about as Tellers idea, as we have always disliked TV talent judging shows. I trust the artistic public more then I trust 4 or 5 judges. Also the idea that art can be a sporting event rubs me the wrong way. But Teller had the idea to make the judging objective. So we are not judging whether it is good or bad, whether you are a star or not. Just if you fooled us. What I love about our show is some of our losers have had more success than our winners. Piff the Magic Dragon, didn’t win, but now he has his own theater in Vegas. One thing most people don’t realize is, you don’t get into magic cause you like to fool people, you get into magic cause you like to be fooled.
We now have a team of 15 people who fly around the world and try and find people to fool us.
When we have absolutely no clue, it’s a wonderful feeling. So we love, love, love doing the show!
What should our readers expect from your show at the Hard Rock Hollywood?
Lots of new tricks, and some of our classics. During the show we talk about Magic and how it’s done and we will give the audience a trick that they can do. We also predict people’s computer passwords.
What does the future hold for Penn & Teller?
This is all we have ever wanted, so I am hoping in 5 years you are saying “how old are those M-fers and why are they still doing new shit.”
Tickets to Penn & Teller at Hardrock Hollywood Event Center are $85, $70, $55 and $40. All seats are reserved and available at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at myhrl.com, ticketmaster.com or charge by phone: 1-800-745-3000. Doors open one hour prior to show start time.