There are still plenty of people out there that know and appreciate who Penn and Teller are and, even if they don’t get it, appreciate the fact that the duo are quite hilarious since, as Mike Floorwalker of Looper states, one of them never shuts up and the other never says a word. Well, maybe that’s not entirely accurate since Teller will speak when he’s offstage or when his face is obscured as it’s not quite as revealing then. But when he’s in full sight of the audience and is performing a trick or on screen and performing a guest role, his lips are pretty much sealed save for the rare occasion. The reason for this is kind of easy to understand but also a bit ingenious on Teller’s part since it has a lot to do with just being able to gain the attention of the crowd. Apparently back in his younger days Teller would perform for frat parties and as you can imagine many such parties are likely to be loud, raucous, and gaining the attention of an audience is just about impossible unless a person has a hook that can make people focus up and zero in on what’s going on. Teller found out the trick was staying silent, turning off the lights, and making sure that the only spotlights in the room were on him during this period of time.
Many magicians and other performers can likely attest to the fact that hecklers are going to appear in just about any crowd and this is a part of why Teller doesn’t speak as well since he doesn’t want to deal with said people. That leaves his partner, Penn, to do all the talking, and as anyone that’s seen the two together on stage have discovered, Penn has no problem at all talking, whether it be to tell a joke, explain a trick, or to talk down a heckler. He’s the mouth of the two by far, but Teller is still an extremely talented man since he doesn’t have to speak to get his point across when he’s performing as his actions are good enough for many people considering that he knows how to position himself and how to gain the attention of the crowd as he and Penn tend to feed off of one another’s energy on stage. The role of a silent comedian isn’t a new one or a trademark solely of Teller as others have done the same thing, but have used music and other props to further their act in a way that Teller describes as cheating. While he does speak and is a very intelligent man, this act is something that Teller has done for so long that trying to imagine him doing it any other way is just too difficult at this point.
There’s something to be said about a comedian that can take control of a room with a few gestures and, of course, the attention focused on him while he’s on stage. When he’s with Penn there’s no doubt that a lot of the attention is on the big man as he continues to yammer on at times to keep the show moving forward, but after so long the act is well-known to so many people that it’s almost never assumed that Penn is just being a jerk and not letting his partner speak. This is how the act works for them after all and it’s the way they’ve been doing it for a long time now. Penn is what you might call the frontman while Teller is kind of the heart and soul of the duo, giving a lot of the substance where Penn is responsible mostly for the flash and pomp that gets people to pay attention. Together they work out very nicely since they both compliment each other in a way that’s part of a formula that has been in play for years and has entertained a lot of people. Considering how many guest spots they’ve done on various shows one might assume that Teller might finally get the chance to speak, and he has, rarely. But otherwise the duo have kept up their act when they visit other projects as well and it’s a kick for the fans since not breaking kayfabe is actually what makes their appearance work. One thing that’s evident is that people like to see their favorite celebrities acting the way they remember them while they’re performing, otherwise it might appear to be a little out of character.
There are those folks in show business that can do more without saying as much and Teller has a lot of them beat since he doesn’t say much of anything most times and he makes people laugh in a very big way. Now that’s a talent.
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