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About Penn and Teller
Penn & Teller is the stage name for the partnership between two American magicians: Penn Jillette (born 1955) and Teller (born 1948). The latter now goes by only that name, although he was born Raymond Teller. The pair, who have worked together for more than 30 years, specialize in performing illusions.In most cases, only Penn speaks during a performance, while Teller relies on non-verbal methods such as mime, which has become part of the duo’s schtick. Away from magic, both men are strong supporters of scientific skepticism and atheism, as well as being libertarian in political outlook.
Developing a Magic Career
Penn was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts, on March 5, 1955, and worked as an entertainer, specializing in juggling. Teller was born in Philadelphia on Valentine’s Day, 1948, and was briefly a teacher. The two men first met in 1975 when they were introduced by Wier Chrisimer who became part of their first act.
Chrisimer left the group in 1981, having been responsible for a few of the couple’s enduring acts, especially a trick using a rose, named “Shadows.” Word gradually spread about Penn & Teller’s impressive stage performances, and their Off-Broadway show won them praise and acclaim in 1985.
Expanding Their Audience
In the same year, Penn & Teller Go Public on PBS brought their act to a wider television audience. Two years later, they opened on Broadway for the first of two runs. In the following few years, they became frequent guests on TV talk shows presented by the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman.
They toured the United States multiple times during the 1990s, winning critical acclaim. On TV, the pair played a number of guest roles in shows as diverse as Babylon 5, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and The West Wing. They were guest characters on The Simpsons in 1996. Penn & Teller have appeared in several music videos, including Katy Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas.”
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