On Monday, May 18, the quarantine magic show Penn & Teller: Try This at Home is airing on The CW. The special features the magician duo Penn & Teller performing tricks and allowing viewers behind the curtain. In the Penn & Teller: Try This at Home preview, Penn said, “Welcome to our homes. We’re going to show you how to do a bunch of tricks. We’re giving away our secrets!”
Penn Jillette and Teller, born Raymond Joseph Teller, met over 40 years ago, and they have been performing together for decades. They are performers at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, and the duo has been a part of many TV series, including Penn & Teller: Fool Us, a magician competition show that is going into its seventh season.
A centerpiece of their act is Teller remaining silent on stage. Many people may be wondering if Teller can talk at all, and if so, why he doesn’t speak while performing magic. Here’s why Teller remains silent on stage:
Teller Explained Why He Remains Silent on Stage During an Interview in 2015
Teller can talk. He explained why he doesn’t speak during performances in an interview with Google in 2015. Here is a video of the interview:
Teller shared the origin story of why he doesn’t speak during his act. He said, “When I was a teenager, I rebelled against the idea of Magic Patter because it always seemed redundant. A guy would be standing up there going ‘Here I have a red ball.’ Well, yeah.”
According to Magiczilla, “A Magician’s ‘Patter’ is their commentary as they perform a magic trick. For some tricks, the patter may be a story. With others, it may be jokes.”
In the Google interview, Teller said, “I thought it would be interesting to drop Patter so that people would have to put together what they’re looking at on their own. Nothing fools you better than the lie you tell yourself. So if I say, ‘Here is a perfectly ordinary pack of cards,’ you’re going to mistrust me.”
While making a card shuffling gesture, Teller continued, “If I hand you the cards and you shuffle them, then you’ll believe that’s a real pack of cards, even if it’s fake.”
Teller decided to not speak during performances partly because he didn’t want to do “redundant” Magic Patter and partly because he believes that without speaking, he can make his magic act even more convincing.
During the 2015 interview with Google, Teller said, “Eventually, working with Penn all these years, what I’ve discovered is there’s something absolutely incredible that happens when you don’t talk. Everything becomes very intimate because you’re looking at them, they’re looking at you, and that intimacy is really thrilling to me.”
Teller Spoke Publicly at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2011
Although Teller doesn’t speak while performing, he isn’t shy about speaking at fan events. He briefly spoke at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2011. Penn and Teller were taking part in the event to promote their six-part series Penn & Teller: Tell a Lie.
The show aired in 2011 and as per the official IMDB page for Penn & Teller: Tell a Lie, “In every episode Penn and Teller present a number of stories. All but one are true, it’s up to the viewers to guess which story is false.”
Here is the video: