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Tony Grist

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Penn And Teller: Fool Us [Jul. 31st, 2011|12:41 pm]
Tony Grist
I've always liked magic shows. Penn and Teller: Fool Us (awkward title)  is a magic show with a touch of the X Factor. Aspiring performers strut their stuff and if Penn and Teller can't tell how they worked a particular trick they get booked for Penn and Teller's Las Vegas show. The only thing I don't like about it is the compering of Jonathan Ross- who combines tastelessness (two jokes about wanking last night) with a grovelling need to be loved. Great comics never ingratiate.  Penn and Teller (who would still be a great double act without the magic) don't ingratiate. Penn is a blaggardy loud-mouth and Teller is a cunning imp. Paul Daniels (great British magician who used to be big on TV) was saying in an interview I read yesterday that he advises young magicians to learn from non-magic acts. Magic isn't enough. You've got to entertain around the tricks. Daniels himself took Bruce Forsyth as his model. With Penn and Teller you've got the classic big man/little man dynamic. They've learned from Laurel and Hardy, from the Marx Brothers, from the Three Stooges. They're dangerous.  They're unstable.  At any time Penn could explode with wrath or bombast or Teller do something really sneaky and mean.  
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: steepholm
2011-07-31 11:59 am (UTC)
The only thing I don't like about this show is that the format means the best acts don't always get to Vegas (not that I would want to go to Vegas myself - every time I see pictures of it I wince at the carbon footprint - but tastes vary). Last week, for example, there was a marvellous act using cups and balls, but because P&T do that kind of thing themselves it didn't "fool" them, and the man's consummate technique, patter and professionalism counted for nothing. Whereas, both that week and the previous one, a rather inferior act whose trick P&T failed to guess won the big prize. Technique lost out to novelty value, as it so often does.

I also suspect that the some of the successful acts have laid false clues - last week a clumsy movement that was meant to look like a deck switch but wasn't, for example - in order to lead P&T to make a wrong guess. It's a clever way of playing the system, but it's not entertainment.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-07-31 12:10 pm (UTC)
You're right. Maybe next season they should adjust the criteria- and allow P & T to put through the acts they like best.

I just love magic. I could watch this stuff for hours on end.
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2011-07-31 01:24 pm (UTC)
Years ago when I was teaching art one of the items on the curriculum was to teach the students the elements and principles of design. I found some wonderful videos staring Penn and Teller that demonstrates all of them in funny and very entertaining ways. Those guys are awesome!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-07-31 03:22 pm (UTC)
We haven't seen much of P & T over the years- and it's great that they've finally been given this show on British TV.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2011-07-31 09:46 pm (UTC)
If you still have links to those videos, I would love to see them!
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2011-08-01 02:32 pm (UTC)
That was some time ago and they were VHS tapes. I'll have to do a search though I am guessing that if they are still available they are listed on sites that carry art teacher materials. Unfortunately I don't recall the name of them and I have no access to the school items anymore.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-08-01 09:33 am (UTC)
Boring and pointless people doing boring and pointless things. Penn Jillette is a loud-mouthed glibertarian atheist and Teller is condemned just by standing next to the fat fuck. If you want them, take them, but only if you take back Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan as well -- curiously, both equally loathsome for much the same reason.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-08-02 07:12 am (UTC)
Aw, but they're funny- and they do the most amazing tricks.

I don't care about Penn's atheism, I just think he's a brilliant entertainer.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-08-02 10:08 am (UTC)
Honestly? I did not find them entertaining at all. They used to appear on Saturday Night Live, many years ago. I knew nothing of their politics and still found them simply awful. No offense, but to now find someone that actually enjoys their act is just bizarre.
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