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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magic names and the media » » Penn & Teller - Actual names of their bits (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

acortest
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I have been listening to Penn Jillette's podcast for about a year and have also listened to all 3 of his audiobooks and occasionally, he will mention the actual names of the Penn & Teller bits or 'tricks' that they perform in their show together.

Some of them have some really funny or unique names (some with double meanings). I have only come up with a few, but I was wondering if anyone else can provide the actual names of some more of their bits?


First, here are 'Bits' that I have heard Penn say the correct or actual name of:

Cell Fish - It was their opening effect for a while where they borrow a cellphone from an audience member and it ends up inside a frozen fish

Shadows - Teller's solo bit where he cuts he leaves and petals off of the silhouette of a flower and the actual pieces fall off of the vased flower.

Silver Fish - Teller's solo bit where he does the 'Miser's Dream' with an audience member, pulling coins from an empty fish tank. Ends by dumping all produced coins into water where they turn into goldfish.

Magic Bullets - Penn accidentally called it 'The Bullet Catch' on a recent podcast episode, but his podcast producer chimed in and corrected him that it was actually called 'Magic Bullets' and Penn confirmed he was right.

The Great Tomsoni & Company - bit where Teller re-creates Johnny Thompson's 'The Great Tomsoni & Co.' act with Georgie Bernasek playing the part of Pam Thompson. Penn plays the drums during the act.

Surveillance - with the aid of several audience members, P&T divine the someone's actual email password



Bits I think I know the name of:

Lift-Off for Love - the box illusion where Penn takes apart the rocket-shaped box that Teller is in and re-assembles it. They then repeat it with clear boxes and stage base.

Clear Cups & Balls - P&T perform the classic cups & balls with plastic cups and aluminum foil balls, then repeat it with clear, plastic cups. Ends with a potato final load.

Elsie, the African, Spotted Pygmy Elephant - they vanish a cow (dressed as an elephant)

Red Ball - Teller's solo bit where he appears to train a red ball like and animal to move and jump through a hoop

I'm a Little Teapot - short bit where teller squats with arms like teapot handles and Penn picks him up by one arm and water sprays out of Teller's mouth.

Love Cards - The bit where everyone in the audience tears cards in half and then gets rid of them until left with only 2 card halves that (hopefully) match

Bill of Rights - bit using the airport metal detector

One Minute Egg - Penn dismantles and egg by cracking it, separates the white from the yolk and puts all pieces back into Teller's hands individually where he restores it back to an egg.

The Atheist's Deck of Cards - P&T's take on the 'The (soldier's) Deck of Cards': a poem that about a soldier who pulls out a deck of cards in church and his sergeant confronts him about it

Powers of Darkness - that's the actual name of the effect, but I'm sure P&T have their own 'spin' on the name. They do a 2-on-1 version of PoD with large 14"-18" silver rings



Bits I would like to know the name of:

Camera Man - (I'd really like to hear what they call this) - an audience member comes up to video record Penn as he plays with farm toys, while Teller is behind the backdrop making the magic happen (adding and taking away things which can not be seen by the volunteer filming and looking through the video camera's viewfinder). During the course of the trick, it ends with the volunteer removing the videocamera from his face and facing the audience and it is actually Teller holding the video camera.

American Flag Burn - They apparently burn an American flag wrapped in the Bill of Rights

Fire Eating - Penn & Georgie Bernasek do a fire eating ritual as if they're 'making love'

Running over Teller with a semi truck

The bit they did on SNL where they were hanging upside down but the TV camera was also inverted. They made things float & disappear.

Cut & Restored snake - like cut & restored rope but with a live snake

Sawing Teller in half - results in blood & guts everywhere, but they do not restore him.

Water torture cell - Teller attempts the Houdini Water Torture cell, but apparently drowns during the trick. He is left inside (not rescued)


I'll stop here for now. I only spent about 30 minutes and I came up with all of these. I could spend another 30 and come up with probably a dozen more. I'd really like to hear what you all think and list more of their best 'bits', even if we never find out the actual names of them all.

Thanks a lot,
~Tony
GlennLawrence
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The one you called Camera Man is actually called "Cow"
they did that when I saw them on Broadway a couple of years ago and I was stunned!
acortest
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GlennLawrence, Thank you so much for the input!
acortest
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I'm not sure why this didn't occur to me before. I just thought about looking up their program or 'playbill' from when they were on Broadway, and I found this
http://www.playbill.com/person/penn-teller-vault-0000116751

There are 2 playbills listed and shown. One from their Broadway show back in July-August of 2015,
and another from all the way back in December of 1987

If anyone can elaborate on the effect performed for the ones with the ?????? next to them, please reply to this topic. Thanks!

[ Beginning of 2015 Playbill ]
Turn on Your Cell Phones (I called it 'Cell Fish' because that's what I've heard Penn call it before)

Pulling a Rabbit Out of a Hat ????

T.S.A. (I called it 'Bill of Rights' w/ Metal Detector)

Red Ball (nailed that one)

Psychic Comedian ???

He's A Little Teapot (almost nailed that one)

Penn & Teller: One-Minute Egg (I called it just 'One Minute Egg')

Polyester In Excelsis Deo

Looks Simple (this is the bit where Penn narrates as Teller appears to simply be smoking a cigarette, but then it is repeated showing all of the sleight of hand he actually used to make it appear simple; includes palming, steal, load & switching the cigarette, etc.)

East Indian Needle Mystery (I think this is where Teller swallows the needles & thread)

Sawing A Woman Into Halves

Silverfish

Close-Up Magic with Little Cows (this is the one GlennLawrence called 'Cows')

Nail Gun

The Vanishing Elephant

Shadows

10-in-1 ( I know in Circus or Carnival parlance, a '10-in-1' is also known as a freakshow )
[ End of 2015 Playbill ]

[ Beginning of 1987 Playbill]
Casey at the Bat (Penn recites the poem while Teller escapes from a straitjacket while hanging upside down. Teller must escape before the end of the poem or else he will fail. Penn, seeing Teller get close to freeing himself, starts speeding up his reading of the poem.)

A Card Trick ??????

Cups & Balls

Suspension

"Domestication of Animals" (it says 'performance art' next to this bit in the program)

East Indian Needle Mystery

Quote of the Day

Another Card Trick

MOFO the Psychic Gorilla

How we Met

Shadows

10-in-1
[ End of 1987 Playbill ]

Also, I just remembered one they did on SNL called 'World's Most Expensive Card Trick' supposedly using computer/video card recognition and then putting the card selection on a JumboTron in times Square. They reprised a very similar version years later but called it the 'World's Most Difficult Card Trick'.
acortest
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OK, so the '10-in-1' act is when Penn & Teller would appear on stage (usually as the finale) in nothing but long, plain, white T-shirts, which come down to their knees. They proceed to make all manner of objects appear out of thin air: a glass of wine, a knife, a rose with thorns, etc. At the end, they are covered with blood from these objects cutting them and spilling on them. They would leave the theatre covered in blood and proceed to do their traditional autograph session covered in 'blood'.
acortest
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OK, a slight correction to my last post.

Listening to the latest episode of Penn's podcast, he states that back when he and Teller performed at Bally's, they had a bit to end their show where they would strip naked and then produce 15 liters of fake blood from nowhere and then would don long T-shirts and then go out to the lobby/entrance to sign autographs (usually by just putting their bloody hand print on the program or ticket in lieu of actually signing with a pen).

This bit was appropriately named 'Bleeding'

If anyone can describe what Penn & Teller's '10-in-1' bit was, please post it here. They used to end their Broadway show with it.
acortest
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Listening to latest episode of Penn's podcast, he says that by early next year, the entire show will be brand new.

He recently started performing the 'Linking Rings', another effect in the series that he calls "Stupid Tricks with Pretentious Patter"

He also stated the actual names of 3 new bits:

Penn (solo bit) 'Correlation Sticks' (I believe this is the Chinese Sticks with Penn's original theme & patter

Teller (solo bit) 'Glass Portrait' (Penn says is 'mind blowing')

Penn & Teller bit called 'Subtle' (which gets Gasps & Screams)

If anyone has seen P&T's Linking Rings or any of the other 3 bits listed above, please comment with a brief description.

Thanks! ~Tony
Ultrahaggis
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'Love cards' is Woody Aragon's 'How to find your Other Half' - also known as 'Love Ritual'- great trick!
acortest
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Ultrahaggis,
Thank you for the info. I was considering deleting this thread thinking that nobody else bothered to look at it. You haven't by chance seen their show lately have you?
ringmaster
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Circus or Carnival parlance, a freakshow is also known as a "ten in one", never a freak show.
Less than 2% of reported UFO's turn out to be actual interplanetary vehicles.
mclose
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The P&T Linking Ring routine, Correlation Sticks, Subtle, and Glass Portrait can be seen this summer during season six of Penn & Teller: Fool Us.
acortest
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Looking forward to the new season of 'Fool Us' starting. Thanks for the heads up, Mike!
acortest
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Just saw Penn & Teller perform 'Subtle' on Season 6, Episode 2 of Fool Us. Great effect! Can't wait to see the other new material they created for this season.

BTW, S06 E01 was where P&T performed a card trick while David Copperfield critiqued them.
acortest
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Penn & Teller's bit on Jimmy Fallon last week where Penn juggles and Teller does magic was called 'Wizard' as told by Penn on his latest podcast episode.
thomasR
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I recently saw Penn & Tellers Show in Vegas. I had seen it about a year ago and thought “oh I hope they have a new routine, that would be fun.” To my surprise 95% of the show was brand new and great!

Linking rings - P&T bring an audience member up. Penn shows her the linking rings using “magic set” size rings. Teller shows her the rings using pro size rings. Both get examined and In the end, the volunteer gets to keep the smaller rings. Typical false explanations with the smaller rings that get proved wrong with the larger rings. Great routine!

Chinese Sticks - standard Chinese sticks routine with a brilliant patter by Penn regarding corellation with day to day events in the world. I loved it.

The Glass Portrait is really really really good. It got the best reaction of anything in the show. It honestly looks totally impossible. Another teller solo masterpiece.

Wizard was in the show too.... pretty fun

Subtlety was fine.... I was close enough to tell it was a mask from the beginning so the surprise wasn’t there.... still a clever enough routine.

Penn & Teller have such a great show. Love the live music and the free meet and greet. They are just the best of the best.
Martin.Lester
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Quote:
On Jul 19, 2019, thomasR wrote:
I recently saw Penn & Tellers Show in Vegas. I had seen it about a year ago and thought “oh I hope they have a new routine, that would be fun.” To my surprise 95% of the show was brand new and great!

Linking rings - P&T bring an audience member up. Penn shows her the linking rings using “magic set” size rings. Teller shows her the rings using pro size rings. Both get examined and In the end, the volunteer gets to keep the smaller rings. Typical false explanations with the smaller rings that get proved wrong with the larger rings. Great routine!

Chinese Sticks - standard Chinese sticks routine with a brilliant patter by Penn regarding corellation with day to day events in the world. I loved it.

The Glass Portrait is really really really good. It got the best reaction of anything in the show. It honestly looks totally impossible. Another teller solo masterpiece.

Wizard was in the show too.... pretty fun

Subtlety was fine.... I was close enough to tell it was a mask from the beginning so the surprise wasn’t there.... still a clever enough routine.

Penn & Teller have such a great show. Love the live music and the free meet and greet. They are just the best of the best.


Must Agree 2 of the best people in Magic

I have seen the show several times and always something new to see

I will be back in Vegas for the SAM convention so may well go and see them again
acortest
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How We Met - a bit about 'Desperate Loneliness'

Just listened to Penn's Sunday School episode #548 and from the 31:21 to 40:21 mark, he talks about a bit called "How We Met" which was originally called 'Handcuffs' and then changed to 'Handcuffed to a Creep' before it's final re-naming to 'How We Met'. They started performing it in the late 80s during their Broadway run. It involves P&T both sitting on a park bench and Penn trying to stand up to leave and noticing himself handcuffed to Teller.

Penn states in the podcast that this bit is the only bit that doesn't take place in the theater. Also, this is the only bit they've ever written with a 'Fourth Wall' and they don't play Penn & Teller.

They are planning on reviving this bit in their next season (Season 7) of Penn & Teller Fool Us, but those who are familiar with the original performance will notice several changes from the original. Penn states that the bit required a page 1 re-write, due to modern technology now being available (most notably; cell phones) and also, due to their current ages, where the original featured a staged fight or 'tussle' between the two of them. They haven't performed this bit in over 25 years, which means they may have performed this bit into the mid-90s.
thomasR
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They did that routine on a Sin City special I think. I know I've seen it. I remember it being VERY good... actually a bit emotional. I'm glad they are bringing it back and I will look forward to seeing how they update it. Hopefully it will be in the show when I see them next.
acortest
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On Penn's Sunday School Episode #553 'The Purpose Of Art Is to Conceal Itself', Penn talks about 2 bits:

Watermelon Surgery
The newest bit they added to the show is called "Watermelon Surgery". It's a borrowed object to impossible location (often done with a nest of boxes)
Jeff McBride came in to help them with the bit.
Penn originally wanted to do the bit with a dollar bill where the bill's serial # is recorded to prove it's the same bill later.
Teller changed it to a borrowed ring.
After borrowing and vanishing the borrowed ring, they bring out a whole watermelon and after making a small hole in the watermelon, Penn then use laparoscopic surgery instruments to go into the watermelon with the video feed being projected on iMag (image Magnification) screen for the audience).
Originally took Penn 15 minutes to retrieve the ring. Now he has it down to about 15-20 seconds.
Penn states that it's pretty crazy how the inside of a watermelon looks eerily similar to the insides of a human being. He was hoping it would look more like a person’s insides, rather than a watermelon. It ended up being “beyond his wildest dreams”, so it must look really gross.


He also mentioned 2 other new bits:
One is a bit (I believe a solo bit for Penn) called 'Stupid' (he didn’t elaborate on it in any way)
and the other is called 'Pull Your Cash Out' or PYCO for short (which was originally called Forging)


Penn also has an idea for a bit where he talks about a magic wand being a 'placebo'. He acknowledges that the funny thing is... placebos work, even if you know they're placebos.
Penn says he's OK with placebos working, but it's when you add the "even when you know they're placebos", that part makes him go "apeshit"
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