Penn and Teller and Me

You'll have to indulge me today. This is less a blog post and more of a diary entry. I don't really use this blog as a journal, but the nice thing about writing it daily is that it does serve as a journal of my thoughts (if not my activities). For instance, I know one day I'll look back on the day I had the idea for Project 8X and be glad I made note of it in real time. I've always flirted with the idea of keeping a journal but then I fight against it. I feel like if I write down every interesting or fun thing that happens to me then I'm content with just sporadically having interesting or fun things happen because I'll have this book I can reference them in. But if I don't have a book then it's up to me to do interesting and fun things all the time in the present because I don't have a document of moments in the past to relive all the time. Does that make any sense? Yeah, not really.

But this pretty much is a diary entry, because I want to be able to look back and remember this night.

So I'm on the subway now, going back into Brooklyn. I just saw the final Broadway performance (ever?) of Penn and Teller.  

It took place in the heart of the theater district/Times Square area. (What's funny is people will come to NYC, spend a lot of time in that area and say to themselves, "Well, I guess this is what it's like living in New York City." Meanwhile, no one I know ever steps foot in that part of town. Times Square is the least  "New York" part of the city.)

I was sitting in the dead center of the orchestra section. My friend was sitting to my right and to my left was a stumpy little 11-year old with glasses on a sports-strap around his head. Right after he sat down he dropped his theater program and it fell under my seat and he proceeded to bury his head in my crotch as he reached to get it. I'm not exaggerating. I felt his cheek against my dick.  Half way through the show he had his legs spread, he was reaching up  the leg of his shorts, feeling around his ballsack and then pulling out his hand and smelling his fingers. I swear on my life this is true. After the third time he did it I turned to him and said, "What the fuck are you doing?" He kind of chilled out after that -- he was still kind of restless but the sniffing of his own genitalia went down 100%.

How was the show? It was amazing. The best magic show I've ever seen. I saw them in Vegas a few years ago and it was good, but there was an extra intensity and emotion last night. Maybe because it was their final night in NY, or maybe the show was just better than the other one I saw. I don't know. There's definitely a different energy from a Broadway show to a Vegas show. It also may have to do with the fact that when I saw it in Vegas I saw it alone, and when I saw it last night, I saw it with a friend who was really into it, and for whom the show was pretty much all new. So I got to see things I've watched for maybe 25 years through the eyes of someone who hasn't seen them before.

The setlist was:

  • Turn On Your Cellphones (Cell-fish)
  • Pulling A Rabbit Out of A Hat
  • TSA
  • Red Ball 
  • Psychic Comedian
  • He's a Little Teapot
  • One-Minute Egg
  • Polyester in Excelsis Deo
  • Looks Simple
  • East Indian Needle Mystery
  • Sawing A Woman Into Halves
  • Silverfish
  • Close-Up Magic With Little Cows
  • Nail Gun
  • The Vanishing Elephant
  • Shadows
  • 10 in 1

17 tricks and they were all highlights. I can't even really break it down, and there's no point really -- the show is over, you can't go to it. But you can go see them in Vegas, or if they come to your area at some point in time. And you really have to go. You might think, "Well, I've seen most of these bits on tv." And that may be true, but you are maybe getting 45% of the effect that you will get from seeing them in real life. In fact I think tv might be the medium they are least successful in, outside of maybe old Letterman or SNL appearances. The stage show is flawless. And the books they put out together in the late 80s, early 90s are also incredible and had a big influence on this site. 

Are there still people who don't like Penn and Teller because they're "exposers"? They don't still exist, do they? God, what a fucking embarrassment those people were. Actually... let me save that rant for another post. 

The thing magicians should take from Penn and Teller (and I'm including myself) is the variety in their act. Of the 17 pieces they performed, none of them felt similar, but they all felt like they belonged in the same show. I think the biggest mistake magicians and mentalists who want to be seen as "real" make is they've convinced themselves they need "define their abilities." "My character can read minds, but he can't bend metal," they'll say. Oh, knock it off. It would be one thing if they could then put together an entertaining 45 minute show of just mind-reading, but they never do. And what's funny is that they harp on this consistency-of-character notion like it's very important. Which it would be if they were trying to tell some cohesive theatrical story. But they're not, they're just doing a bunch of disconnected tricks. The reason they don't want to mix it up is because they still want people to see them as having real powers. They have it in their mind they're going to convince the world they're the next Uri Geller. Bad news, folks. When Uri Geller was most popular he was a joke to 50% of the population. And now he's lived long enough to be a joke to 98% of the population. That's your best case scenario. 

Another thing about the P&T show was how well everything has aged. Tricks that are almost 40-years old feel fresh and vital. I love Copperfield, but when I think back to his 80s specials, his patter might as well be, "So Spudz McKenzie spilled my Jolt cola and then Loni Anderson told me I have a new disease called AIDS." Like that's how dated some of his presentations are. But Penn and Teller's stage show is timeless.

I realize I'm rambling now. I just wanted to get some thoughts out after the show. As I said, it was the best magic show I've ever seen and it was one of the best nights of the year for me (because an 11-year old smashed his face against my cock.)