Talk:Penn & Teller
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Kinda Dumb Picture 
The caption says Penn and Teller. But the order in the picture is Teller and Penn. Maybe it should be annotated. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 126.96.36.199 (talk) 00:34, 28 September 2010 (UTC)
ADA act? 
Why do they dislike of the ADA act? or do they like it? The wording in the section mentioning the 'critical segments' is somewhat confusing It is confusing —Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk) 19:11, 31 December 2010 (UTC)
How did they meet? 
There is no mention how Penn and Teller met or their early career.
- Penn mentions in Ep. 6, Season 3 of Bullshit! that they met '35 years ago' while Teller was teaching Latin at a NJ high school. Penn also says that he was a street juggler. That's a start. --Anon
- Penn also tends to lie a lot during performances or when he's riffing, so citing him as a source might not be the most reliable... Xinit 22:17, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
James Randi introduced them, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTPj9VlNzQ0 in the last ten minutes.
Teller speaks 
Small correction -- Teller DOES speak onstage, he is just not normally miked. At several points during a performance you actually _can_ hear what he is saying (most notably during the spirit cabinet illusion).
Of course, standing next to Penn, anybody would sound like he wasn't talking.
Their magic 
Since they always show people how to play these tricks, I think this article could use some of their disclosed tricks.
- Particularly their most expensive card trick in the world, please!
Teller talking 
It seems like Teller is more willing to talk if he is not actually shown doing so. He talks in a voice-over at the end of Penn & Teller Get Killed, in a guest appearance of an episode of The Simpsons, and again hidden behind Penn in Bullshit!
- Teller in the act is a character... that character doesn't talk. Xinit 22:18, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Also, in the PETA episode, he shouts Motherfucker while getting branded. (Vance Clarend 09:45, 21 April 2006 (UTC))
- I was watching a program on the Sky Travel channel which Penn and Teller were on and Teller spoke quite freely to his hand held "diary" camera. --Mercifull 11:01, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
In a very early version of "Mofo Knows", Mofo the Psychic Gorilla spoke. The voice was actually teller. There were a number of volunteers on stage. As the trick progressed, it gradually dawned on you that one "volunteer" on stage was actually Teller, with his hand over his mouth, giving Mofo his voice. Teller also speaks when the chipper shredder is running. Solinas (talk) 06:49, 27 November 2010 (UTC)
Penn is larger? 
Penn is described as "the larger of the two". He is taller, and heftier, but the word 'larger' seems more appropriate for describing inanimate objects, and less appropriate for describing people. No pressing need to change the phrasing, but odd enough to make me notice. BlueNight 04:46, 29 Aug 2004 (UTC)
- A comment, just for the record: the official Penn & Teller website describes Penn as "the larger, louder half" and Teller as "the smaller, quieter half." They apparently use the size terminology to refer to themselves. Kevyn 10:01, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
"Atheist thinkers and activists" 
I'm removing this category. Admittedly it's better than the even more objectionable cat "Atheists" that was there before, but it has no support in the article unless we count the vague and unsubstantiated claim that P & T "have become associated with skepticism and Las Vegas". Weasel terms! And, uh, skepticism is the same thing as atheism now? Any P & T atheist activism documented, or mentioned, in the article? No. Linking to Wikipedia article Skepticism, incidentally, is even more irrelevant than using the word itself. If somebody is going to mention actual support for these claims, they're welcome to put back the atheist activism and the scepticism, but till then I'm removing both. This will have the added advantage of getting rid of the presumably unintentionally ridiculous pairing "skepticism and Las Vegas". (They are associated with Las Vegas, of course, so that part is fine.) --Bishonen 11:11, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
- I'm not sure I understand what your specific objection is. That it is silly to "tag" known atheists with a category? Or that such a category should be reserved for atheists actively fighting religion, or actively working on furthering acceptance of atheism? Or is it just that the article lacks any evidence that P&T (and James Randi, for that matter, I noticed you made the same change there) are atheists? If it is the latter, I believe I should be able to dig up a quote from Bullshit! that supports this, as they tried hard to come clean with their "biases" on that show. Or is it something else entirely that you are protesting? Mortene 12:23, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Sorry, I'll try to be clearer. I was wrong to digress into the category "Atheists", which wasn't even on the article when I found it. I'll stick with category "Atheist thinkers and activists" here, and these are my objections to tagging P & T as such: Yes, the tag should very much be reserved for those "actively working on furthering acceptance of atheism", as "thinkers" or "activists" or both, since that's what the category says. That would include
- a) people actually publishing, or otherwise reaching out to the community, with their analysis of/agenda for atheism (atheist thinkers).
- b) people campaigning actively, again with some attempt at impact on the wider community (rallies, stunts), for making atheism and atheists more accepted (atheist activists).
Just personally being an atheist doesn't qualify for the tag. I admit that there is some blurring as to how high-profile, and how frequent, and how insistent, admissions/boasts of personal atheism have to get before they define the person as an atheist activist. But IMO there would have to be a major missionary agenda, preferably for turning other people, and making them atheists, or at a minimum for making them accepting towards atheists. Mere admission/statements/"coming clean" with personal bias isn't even in the ballpark.
Sorry I confused the issue. As for the older label "Atheists", if anybody sticks it back on, I'll argue to it then, because I think it mainly raises issues of privacy and appropriateness, which don't come into the "thinkers and activists" question at all. Bishonen 09:27, 18 Sep 2004 (UTC)
- Thanks for elaborating. I agree with you in principle on this, but I feel P&T is a border-line case, even with these strict criteria. They did for instance end the Bullshit! episode about the bible with a passionate appeal in the end, saying that they'd wish more people actually read the bible, because (I'm paraphrasing): "the world needs more atheists". Anyway, I don't feel very strongly about this, and I won't bother to revert your change. Mortene 15:38, 18 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for your temperate response, Mortene. Apparently we see eye to eye further than I supposed. I haven't seen that Bullshit episode, but, the way you describe it, it could have an agenda for making me laugh rather than for "turning" me. But, well, obviously, you saw it and I didn't, and the strength of the spoken final message would come from the experience of the whole show. For other people who read this, though, I want to repeat my original point that there is no record or documentation of anything like that in the article. If somebody does want to revert me on the category, welcome, but I do think they should in that case write something about anti-religious activism in the article itself, too. And not just that they "expose ... religious frauds", as it says now, either. I mean, if we imply that exposing religious frauds is anti-religious or atheist activism, that would be the same thing as implying that religion is a fraud. I don't think that would be an encyclopedic view for Wikipedia to project.Bishonen 23:55, 18 Sep 2004 (UTC)
- Agreed. I'll see if I can find some time to view that episode again, and if I find their appeal to be quote-worthy for this case, I will write it into the article. Mortene 04:56, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Pardon me for chiming in, but I'm unsure as to what the debate is on this category. Sure, debating the personal beliefs, sexual orientation or other personal data of a celebrity may be a faux-pas, but in the case of Penn & Teller, they are quite clear about their worldview by listing themselves as enthusiastic Brights. http://www.the-brights.net/people/enthusiastic/index2.html. A bright is a person with a naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural or mystical elements.
184.108.40.206I object to Scientology being referred to as the "church," as if to question the validity of same. Like it or not, Scientology IS a legally recognized church, comprised of faithful individuals who deserve the same respect---or lack of respect---as any other, including Muslim, Christian or whatever. The claims of Scientology are bizarre, indeed, but no more bizarre than the notion that a baby was born to a virgin, performed miracles and rose from the dead. - Respectfully submitted by cneron 220.127.116.11
It's not really interesting to me whether they are or aren't atheists, nor at what level, but it was always interesting to me that my (Southern Baptist) middle school used them as pincushions on multiple occasions. I never knew what the actual issue was (why tell us that?), but they were referenced more or less as "evil, christmas stealing athiests".
2 separate guys? 
I moved a few things around. And added some information--more on that later. Most notably are separate "Penn" and "Teller" sections to emphasize that each has their own style/history/identity. I'm not sure if each of them need their own separate articles, each addressing "Penn" and "Teller" as individuals and their respective independant projects; talking more about them combined in the "Penn and Teller" article. The 2 sections are pretty rough. I'll probably add to them in the future. This article needs some cleaning, I think.
I'm not sure if the "Quotation" section adds anything to the article.
It's difficult to compile a comprehensive list of television (guests as well as P&T specials) appearances, and--more importantly--which ones merit mention. I think it's important to not ignore that part of their history--they were kind of pop-culture icons during the late 1980s. The pair self-promoted their way into stardom through all kinds of guest appearances.
It's also difficult to define their style, what they do, their ideology, etc. in a concise fashion without ignoring or alienating something or another. Long-standing have been their ideologies of skepticism, atheism, teetotaling, libertarianism, and iconoclasm towards magic. These subjects, I think, should definitely be included in this article.
28 Feb 05
Babylon 5 
"Zoot! Zoot!" Rlw 00:39, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)
- Rebo and Zooty appeared in the episode "Day of the Dead", written by Neil Gaiman. I've stuck in a link to the Lurker's Guide page for the episode -- the authoritative online reference for B5 episodes.
- It's quite an unusual episode, since it deals with unexplained paranormal events (namely, visitation by the spirits of dead people) in what's otherwise a mostly-hard-SF show. Penn and Teller's characters are very similar to their usual stage personae, with the exception that Zooty (Teller) speaks through a machine. The characters are mentioned in a couple of other episodes, as I recall. --FOo 23:53, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Kreskin ambiguity 
He became disillusioned with the type of magic acts that present magic as "real" by watching The Amazing Kreskin on the Johnny Carson show
Is that because Kreskin is an example of the "bad" type of magician, or the "good"? There's not enough info in the Kreskin article to clarify this either. --DudeGalea 06:31, 8 August 2005 (UTC)
The issue is: Kreskin is a "mentalist" - a magician who does "mental magic." He's really considered on the fence with respect to goodness or badness. Uri Geller claimed to be a psychic, and was really just a magician. Uri claimed to have powers. Kreskin makes a point of saying that anyone can do what he does. He comes just short of saying he's doing tricks. He doesn't say he's psychic, but intentionally does nothing to suggest he isn't. In mentalism, this behavior is very common. It's considered in a gray area by many magicians. Solinas (talk) 06:54, 27 November 2010 (UTC)
Don't quotations usually go on Wikiquote? Evan Donovan 06:15, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
- Yes, and they're already there. I'd say they're also encyclopedic in this context, so I see no problem with overlap. Now if the article itself was just quotes, it would be another matter entirely. Indium 00:50, 17 November 2005 (UTC)
"Start of Career" section 
This section, ironically, does not talk about the start of their career at all. I am merging this small section into the section entitled "Current Career" and am renaming it "Career". If anyone can put in info about their early career, though, it would help a lot.
- I'm probably too lazy to research the entire history of this page, but why on earth is there no reference to the Asparagus Valley Cultural Society? This was their first major exposure and certainly qualifies for a "Start of Career" item. -- Rlw (Talk) 00:40, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
- I had the same thought, so I threw in a paragraph about it. --Blogjack 11:08, 19 March 2006 (UTC)
- I'm not wild about the assertion that this third member was to blame for the non-edginess of the new act simply because he was a Christian. Wouldn't this have as much to do with a new act that's not as willing to take chances, etc? If it is the reason that the act was relatively tame compared to today's P&T, then perhaps something citable could be listed? Xinit 22:22, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Small quibble about this: "From the late 1970s through 1981, Penn, Teller, and Chrisimer made up an act called "Asparagus Valley Cultural Society" which played in San Francisco at the Phoenix Theater". This implies their only venue. They also toured colleges extensively during this period as I was able to see them twice at a local Community College in '77-'18.104.22.168.151 (talk) 00:29, 13 February 2012 (UTC)
Video Game 
There is no mention of their Sega CD video game that features a three hour bus ride from I believe LA to California (or something similar) which is in real time. It also has some tricks you can play on your friends.
It was 8 hours, never released, wideley reviewed, and recently resurfaced. You can find the cd image with a quick google search. Haven't played it yet, but I remember reading about the original in GamePro from way back in the day.
- Actually its all in a seperate article Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors --Mercifull 10:55, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
An Attempt at Appearances 
I've attempted to add all the appearances in which BOTH of the two appear. I'm thinking TV shows or addition spots with only one of the two should be noted elsewhere.
Sabrina the teenage witch video game 
Penn and Tell also apear as voices in the Sabrina the Teenage Witch video game. Why isnt this mentioned on this list? This is how I found out about them as a kid, after all. Shouldnt they be credited as such?
- Its hardly a notable thing though is it? P&T have done much more than just whats written in this article. --Mercifull (Talk/Contribs) 14:22, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
Cato Institute 
Penn & Teller are both listed as H.L.Mencken Research Fellows of the Cato Institute ( and ). Perhaps this should be mentioned in relation to their show Bullshit!, as it sheds light on the strength of their libertarian agenda.
- Membership in an organization does not necessarily indicate anything about one's political leanings. Cases In Point: Joseph Liberman: Member of the Democratic Party, votes with the Republicans. Ron Paul: Only joined the republican party so he could run on a ticket that had any chance of winning. the bottom line is: Either show us a referenced, on-the-record statement by Penn and/or Teller saying that they are Libertarians, and maybe you can put that in the article (if they weren't joking). Otherwise, we don't care who they're affiliated with: It doesn't prove anything.
- Now, if you'll excuse me, thee are seven political parties that I hold membership in, and I have to go attend one of their meeting now because I like to keep and eye on what they're up to. Allthenamesarealreadytaken (talk) 10:47, 8 July 2010 (UTC)
Fooling paranormal researchers? 
I read long ago in a book by James Randi, about a pair of young magicians who fooled a number of paranormal researchers into thinking they had psychic powers, even though they admitted quite openly to being stage magicians. They revealed that it was a hoax only after a long period of study by the researchers. I had thought that these two magicians were Penn and Teller (before they became famous), but my memory could be incorrect. If this is the case, it might be worth mentioning in the article.--Srleffler 04:43, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
- If you find the source then yes. But you cant just say a statement like that without citing a reference, otherwise it'll just get removed. --Mercifull (Talk/Contribs) 14:21, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
- I believe you are probably thinking of Project Alpha, and the two magicians were not Penn & Teller, but Steve Shaw (aka Banachek) and Michael Edwards. DHowell 21:02, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
Magic Castle? 
P&T claim (eg: in this clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPyvAtQYVok&NR=1) that their version of the cups and balls trick with clear plastic cups got them thrown out of the Magic Castle. Worth mentioning? TheHYPO 05:35, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
- Possibly, but they've done far worse than clear cups and balls. In their Vegas show they begin with a massive stage illusion and then repeat it with a completely perspex one. Its still amazing to see though probably more because you respect them for being able to actually perform it, I certainly couldn't. --Mercifull (Talk/Contribs) 14:20, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
I noticed while reading about the books they have written the original author describes the content of one of their books ("how to play in Traffic") in one paragraph but in the next they introduce the book. Shouldnt these 2 paragraphs be switched? Its purely grammatical since it makes more sense to do that however if you do switch the paragraphs you break the train of thought regarding their (personal) poltics [TheHoustonKid|TheHoustonKid] 1:45 14 July 2007
Bullet Catch 
In the glossy program handed out to VIP's at their Vegas show, Penn & Teller make a big point of how they never refer to their bullet catch as a 'bullet catch,' but always call their version of the trick the "magic bullet." Should this article reflect that? Reyemile 19:52, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
The Career section states, "Some have praised the show for its libertarian perspective, while others have criticized it for the same reason, alleging that it sometimes employs the same brand of fallacious reasoning that the show ostensibly opposes, notably in relation to passive smoking and climate change." No sources are given. According to WP:BLP, unsourced contentious material must be "removed immediately and without discussion." Leaving the first part of the sentence while removing the second would probably violate NPOV, so I will just remove the sentence entirely. If someone finds reliable sources praising and criticizing P&T, feel free to readd this sentence to the article. --SirEditALot (talk • contribs) 02:30, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
This name is introduced in the second or so para - who the hell is he? Huw Powell 09:09, 11 October 2007 (UTC)
- Someone vandalized the article some while ago and removed Weir Chrisimer from the first sentence of that paragraph. I've put him back. Now it makes more sense. --Neg 17:26, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
Off-stage relationship 
I don't know about everyone else, but I am going to need to see some verification of this section. I know that some of what is claimed is not true, but Jillette very well may have said it anyway. I cannot find the full interview. If anyone has a link to it, or information that backs the claim that Penn and Teller are not "friends," I would very much like to see it. Bishoppendragon (talk) 07:05, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
- They sell a glossy show program that includes a pair of essays: titled _Penn_, by Teller_ and _Teller_, by Penn_. One thing Penn says there is "We don’t need no stinking affection. We have respect. From the moment I met him I knew he was the best in the world at being Teller." On the other hand, he also says: "After all these years, Teller and I are friends, but that's just a wonderful biproduct. It's rare that we even see each other when we're not working, but it's pretty rare that we're not working." --Blogjack (talk) 19:39, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
Teller's Name 
I don't think Teller should be listed as Raymond Joseph Teller in the intro. According to the article on Teller, his full name is legally just Teller. As the intro is currently written, it seems to imply that his current full name is Raymond Joseph Teller, when in fact that is only his birth name. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 02:32, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
- This, surprisingly, is the single most contentious part of the entry. Defacto consensus is his name is, and should be listed as simply "Teller" as this is now his sole legal name. MartinSFSA (talk) 08:56, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
"Tricks" section 
The second paragraph of the "Tricks" section doesn't make much sense. Surely we need some context as to why Teller reading a magazine makes the (unspecified) trick more difficult? For that matter, which tricks have they created more complicated methods for, and how do these methods differ from the "normal" methods? How do we know that the "normal" method is the one that is used by most magicians? There seem to be a lot of unanswered questions here. Optimus Sledge (talk) 18:34, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Among what I suspect to be attacks against other demographic groups, Penn & Teller have really attacked Catholicism. Is this noteworthy? It seems rather controversial. The season finale of Bullshit! contains explicit attacks on the Vatican. On Penn's twitter page, he says the episode is "hardcore" and "we attack the Vatican." He also brags about attacking an encyclical on sexuality, saying "I'm dressed as Darth with a condom cock saber." The Catholic League, an organization that monitors anti-Catholicism, has made a press release about this here.
Perhaps the most appaling remarks were those made about Mother Teresa. In 2005, Penn called Mother Teresa "Mother F*cking Teresa" and her order of nuns "f*cking c*nts." In 2006, he said Mother Teresa "got her [sexual] kicks watching people suffer and die."
- I think it might be, given that the Catholic League has often complained about their behavior on air.  ADM (talk) 04:46, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
Never heard of these guys (maybe because I am not from the USA), until I have seen a Babylon 5 episode with them. I have seen it yesterday again for years and wanted to know who these people were. Now that I read this page.. WOW. They are such fanatical atheists? And their guest starred in that Babylon 5 episode?
How hypocritical is that? In that episode the dead visit the living, and even talk about heaven and hell. There was no "it was all a dream" resolution at the end, quite the opposite.
Being such fundamentalist atheists and starring in a episode like this, how hypocritical can they get?
- Mmmm no. Penn was in an episode of Lois and Clarke, endorsing his belief in Superman, by your logic. If you've got an argument which is relevant for the entry, please make it. If you're just blowing off steam about about them, take it somewhere appropriate. MartinSFSA (talk) 18:31, 25 September 2009 (UTC)
No one believes that Superman exists, but many people believe that an afterlife exists. Penn & Teller want to squash that belief - so of course it hypocritical to appear in an episode which endorses the opposite of what they say.
- You are aware this is a talk page for improving the article, not a forum for wide ranging discussion of their malfeasance? If you do have something relevant to add to the entry you may wish to append it to the Babylon 5 discussion above. But avoid the following things: fiction, spurious logic and anonymity. MartinSFSA (talk) 19:29, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
The little dealy on the upper right hand side of the page treats the duo like they are a single person with a DoB and a birth name and all that junk. Needs to be fixed. 126.96.36.199 (talk) 02:36, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Careers: Bullshit! - redundancy in list of topics & wording change suggestion 
I think the second sentence about their show 'Bullshit' in the 'Careers' section is a bit redundant:
"Their Showtime Network television show Bullshit! takes a skeptical look at psychics, religion, the pseudoscientific, conspiracy theories, and the paranormal. It has also featured critical segments on gun control, astrology, Feng Shui, environmental issues, PETA, weight loss, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the war on drugs."
Where it says it has *also* featured segments on astrology and Feng Shui that implies that those topics do not fit in the categories listed in the previous sentence. As astrology and Feng Shui are pseudosciences I don't think they should be listed separately, unless the fact that they were featured was somehow especially significant in which case that should be indicated. Also, I think 'the pseudoscientific' doesn't sound correct.
Therefore I propose these lines be changed to:
"Their Showtime Network television show Bullshit! takes a skeptical look at psychics, religion, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, and the paranormal. It has also featured critical segments on gun control, environmental issues, PETA, weight loss, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the war on drugs."
I wanted to add this to the talk page rather than go ahead and make changes anonymously (I don't have an account). If the maintainers of this board agree with my suggestions I kindly ask them to make the change on my behalf. If you disagree with my suggestions I am interested in hearing why. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.8.131.52 (talk) 20:24, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
New Picture 
- The infobox talks about their Birth Name. What? They were not born "Aspargus Valley & CUltural Society"! Update somehow?
- The picture is from the 1988 Emmy awards. Someone else must have a more recent free picture? That's a 22 year old picture!--Allmightyduck (talk) 21:42, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
Were they really introduced by Weir Chrisemer? 
I went to TAM6 and heard James Randi say that he introduced them and suggested that they look into doing a magic show together. They were both in the room at the time, but may not have corrected him out of respect if he were mistaken, but given the long history of collaboration between them I doubt Randi would be so mistaken. --184.108.40.206 (talk) 01:11, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't know who introduced them, but I worked at the same Renaissance Festival as they did in the late 1970's. Why is their Renaissance Festival career not noted? In the late 1970's and early 1980's they worked as separate acts at these Fests (Teller = magician; Penn = comedic juggler). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Cinrit (talk • contribs) 10:55, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
No criticism? 
Penn Jillette admits, that he won't attack Scientology because of business reasons and Islam because he is "afraid of it". Basically, the reason why he is "brutal" to Christians, is because they won't bite back.
Into the Wild Green Yonder TV? 
Is there a specific reason for "Into the Wild Green Yonder" being listed under TV appearances and not film? While it's part of the Futurama canon, which is a TV series, it is a direct-to-DVD film which has only been aired on TV after its film release. - quispiamtalk [Anton Nordenfur] 21:02, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
The first paragraph of the Tricks section is confusing. Specifically, "Teller swinging going through Penn's hands." What does this mean? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.127.116.11 (talk) 19:49, 27 February 2012 (UTC)