3.30.2010

Penn & Teller : 4 of 5

Penn & Teller have been performing at the Rio in Las Vegas for years now, but it wasn't until Dad saw their unique (and bloody) sawing a woman in half illusion that we decided to finally see their show! It was especially interesting to watch their intriguing "intelligent" magic the day after seeing Criss Angel's flashy production (in fact, they even ridiculed his style during the show). Penn & Teller are the masters of understatement, often making a trick happen with no announcement whatsoever, giving you a "What just happened?" feeling (and definitely requiring undivided attention!). I was really impressed with Penn's articulate speaking style, though I'm sure he is audibly misdirecting the audience while making it seem like he's explaining all the nuances of a trick. Some of their routines are almost avant garde, such as the cool demonstration of seven essential slight of hand techniques involving a lit cigarette, which Teller does with incredible skill while Penn narrates and plays stand-up jazz bass at the same time! Some of their illusions are couched in a somewhat political message (mostly involving the Bill of Rights), but none of it seemed too preachy to me, and it added a sense of importance and morality to their act. As expected, probably half of the routines involved audience interaction, including everything from an amazing display of mind-reading from random joke books (which Penn proudly claims to be simply a trick that anyone can do) to a hilarious vanishing iPhone illusion which ended up reappearing inside a frozen fish's belly! They ended the show with their classic Magic Bullets illusion, where Penn & Teller simultaneously fire guns into each other's mouths, and prove the bullets to be genuine due to audience inspection and preparation. It's an incredible display of magic skill that takes quite a while to perform due to all the explanation and setup, but the final result definitely leaves the audience totally dumbfounded. In fact, most of Penn & Teller's show is so good that you just want to stop trying to figure out their secrets (since you just can't do it anyway!) and simply enjoy their well-oiled talent. It's certainly a smart and undeniably unique experience!

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