Penn & Teller: Pretty Magical (Though They Tell You Repeatedly They’re Not)

Vegas was a ton of fun. It had been a very long time since I had visited, and for sure the last time I was there I was not old enough to explore much of the casinos. One thing I had definitely not done during my previous visit was attend any shows. One thing Vegas is very good at is extracting money from those who are there, either through way of gambling or through expensive show tickets.

The performers definitely make it worthwhile though. I had always wanted to see a Vegas magic show, and there was none better than the legendary Penn & Teller. When we arrived at the theater there was simply a plexiglass box sitting on stage as well as a wooden crate of similar size. The audience was permitted to inspect these items in preparation for the show to start.

When the show started Penn described the history of magic shows and discussed Houdini and how he did his magic. In the time of Houdini it was not uncommon to completely obscure the audience’s view of the trick and allow the imagination of those in attendance fill in the gaps. This was necessary as quite often the trick boiled down to Houdini having a backup key in his teeth or some other sleight of hand trick, which would be easily figured out if it was possible to directly observe what was happening.

While that worked for audiences of the time, it is now standard for magicians to do their performance in plain view of those observing, with a few exceptions. Penn then gave the audience members the opportunity to let themselves be fooled, or to spoil the magic of the plastic and wooden box. I opted to close my eyes after teller was loaded into the box. Mandi decided to watch and see how the trick was done. To this day I still don’t know how the trick works, though I suspect it was a trick lock, or maybe a totally normal lock that was simply quietly unlocked by Teller or a stagehand while Teller continued with his prattle.

Mandi Insert: After the show I turned to Adam and asked what kind of person would keep their eyes closed during the trick and Adam goes, “I did!” And this is why we are a perfect match.

Adam on stage at Penn & Teller

In all, the show was incredible. Another outstanding part was the trick they used to poke fun at the TV street magicians. They play it up as them letting you in on the secret and showing how the trick is done, but the trick has a surprise ending, which I won’t ruin here.

To wrap the show Penn & Teller go to the lobby to sign autographs and answer quick questions as everyone shuffles out of the auditorium. Mandi and I had the opportunity to get a photo with both Penn and Teller on our way out. It is a nice touch as many other performers would disappear backstage, never to be seen again until the next curtain call.

All in all I look forward to seeing their show again at some point in the future, as well as other magic shows so I can compare one to the other!

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