When Teller talks I listen……..
During a breakneck visit home from South America before leaving to go back to South America, I enjoyed a magical treat of a lifetime. I’m sure that no one ever thought that Teller (the silent half of Penn & Teller) is silent due to a lack of words and in his lecture this morning he proved every bit as articulate in speech and meticulous in thought as any magician I have ever heard.
The lecture was part of Paul Stone’s ‘Innovention’ in Las Vegas. Although I was only able to attend this one event, it was obvious instantly that Paul had done a superb job of re-inventing the standard magic convention.
Stone’s many years producing top league corporate shows was very evident and everyone attending the event seemed delighted with this one of a kind gathering of magicians. Bravo, Paul you did a first rate job and with lectures by performers such as Criss Angel and Teller you have raised the bar for all such future events.
Teller took the time the share the way he created one particular addition to the ‘Penn & Teller: Live in Vegas’ show at the Rio Hotel.It was a fascinating tour through the brilliant mind of a creative and slightly obsessive perfectionist. He demonstrated not only the evolution of his re-staging of a classic piece of magic but also how he developed it into pure and classic ‘Penn & Teller’ material.
With the aid of witty and minimalistic AV and one or two live demonstrations, Teller was able to accomplish a feat of forensic psychology that was an inspiration to everyone present. His demonstration gave an insight into the attention to detail that made it obvious why he may be one of the most original minds ever to tackle the business of getting something right.
As he related each physical and psychological change he made along his journey with this particular trick, there was a feast of information and knowledge to be gained by those of us lucky enough to be in attendance. The detail of the tweaks and development in the music that accompanied the creative process were fascinating and the fact that it has ultimately ended up being presented silently in the show was one of the insightful elements that I particularly enjoyed. I was reminded of Oscar Wilde who explaining he was just exhausted from working. When asked what he had done that day, he replied; “ I worked all morning on a poem and added a comer, then this afternoon I toiled for hours on it again and removed the comer. I am quite, quite exhausted.”
The incremental development of Teller’s new masterpiece showed the exact same attention and re-attention to detail that marks the genius of someone who creates in steps and stages before achieving exactly what he wants to achieve—even if he’s not quite sure what it is until he arrives there.
It was also fun to get a glimpse of the working dynamic between Penn and Teller that has created such a successful and slightly unlikely partnership. I learned a lot about both of them and even more about the creation of great magic. There are currently more lectures filled with more tricks than the magic world could ever need, it was great to be given a view of the big picture and the amount of tiny brush strokes needed to create it.
Thank you Teller (and Paul Stone) for allowing us this unexpected and in many ways unprecedented delight. The multiple standing ovations at the conclusion of the lecture were ample evidence that my enthusiasm was shared by all the attendees. If you ever have a chance to spend an hour touring the mind and methods of this modern magical master—do NOT miss the opportunity.