“a magician is not a magician
a magician is just an actor, merely an actor
…playing the part of a magician”
i’ve always liked this houdin quote. note this is robert houdin, not harry houdini. houdin was french. houdini was hungarian-born but really american. both are intensely of interest to me, but the quote here is houdin’s and the poster above is just put there because i really, really like the art on it.
but read that quote twice. it bears it.
really, this post started just as a quick reference and pointer to an interesting article that teller did for the smithsonian.
teller’s article is here.
but some might ask: who is teller? well, he is the other half of penn and teller, along with penn jilliette. he is the one who in the stage act, never speaks. although, as you’ll see in the interesting clip below, he not only speaks but is very eloquent about his craft and the nature of illusion.
he was born ray joseph teller. before becoming a performer he was a latin teacher at a new jersey high school. he was actually jon stewart’s (yes, the daily show‘s john stewart) latin teacher, back when jon stewart was still ‘jon leibowitz’. anyways – he and penn have performed together since the 70s. like all the truly great magicians, they are more than just performers.
they are skeptics and debunkers of nonsense. they make no bones that any magic act is just tricks – that it is illusion. and they have disdain for people who act as though magic or any other conjuring powers are anything more than simple show business. their magic show in vegas, which i’ve had the pleasure of seeing, is about not just the tricks, but deconstructing the tricks – even exposing them outright. it’s curious that a magic trick can be more interesting when you KNOW the trick and still are amazed as you watch it.
he and penn had a tremendous show for 8 seasons on showtime called bullshit, which is worth a look.
anyways – check out the article above and look at this clip below. all this penn and teller talk makes me want to talk about james randi, which i’ll do below…
meet james randi. his educational foundation is here.
penn has said numerous times that if there was no james randi, there would be no penn and teller. who is this bearded man who inspired these guys?
he is a retired magician who now is probably the world’s most known and respected debunker and demystifer of charlatans, pseudo-scientists, psychics and paranormal rip off artists. he has famously offered a $1,o00,000 price for anyone who can prove psychic powers. he has offered this challenge since the mid-nineties. it still stands.
most of my blog posts have a point of view or an idea i’m trying to get across, even when it’s a review of a movie that i seem somewhat neutral on. this post is more like me sharing some things i was watching on youtube and am interested in. i rarely watch youtube videos or viral videos or any of that. but when i do, this is the type of stuff i seek out.
take a few minutes and find out more about people like penn and teller or james randi. for me, they are endlessly fascinating and entertaining.
below: see a ted talks which features the amazing randi debunking cold reading psychics and the like.