Penn and Teller interview - 0 views
Illusionists Penn and Teller barely communicate outside work – but after 35 years together they still create the most beautiful shows on earth. Ahead of their first British performances for 16 years, Benjamin Secher went to Las Vegas to ask them how they do it .
Penn dominates the stage, pointing, spouting like an evangelist, encouraging us to see the big ideas behind the wizardry, plucking at his double bass, doing dangerous looking things with a nailgun, cracking jokes at the expense of Homeland Security or dispensing a running commentary on Teller’s sleights of hand. He also has a habit of giving away the tricks – before Teller’s red ball act, he declares “this is done with a thread!” – something he describes as “a kind of peace offering” to the audience but which some of the other magicians in Vegas see as a professional blasphemy.
He couldn’t care less what they think. “I have always hated magic,” he says. “I have always hated the basic undercurrent of magic which Jerry Seinfeld put best when he said: 'All magic is “Here’s a quarter, now it’s gone. You’re a jerk. Now it’s back. You’re an idiot. Show’s over”.’ I never wanted to grow up to be a magician. It was never my goal.” He would rather have been a rock star, he says, but the business seemed already saturated with extraordinarily talented people. “So my thinking was, and I will say this outright, music is full of people I absolutely love. I don’t have a chance. They are all better than me. Magic has, ooh, nobody in it that I like.” He rocks back in his chair, cackling. “This is the field for me!”