Raymond Joseph teller was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Irene and Joseph Teller on 14 February, 1948. He is famously known on stage and off stage as just Teller.
Penn Fraser Jillette was born in Greenland, Massachusetts to Valda Rudoph Jillette and Samuel Herbert Jillette on 5 March, 1955.
Jillette became an atheist at an early age on reading the Bible. On one occasion he was asked to leave the church on asking questions regarding the bible.
Jillette considers Illusionist James Randi as his idol because of whom he chose magic as his career. He got enchanted with Randi’s approach to magic that uses deception as entertainment rather than others who portray supernatural powers.
They won Emmy Award for the PBS special “Penn & Teller Go Public” in 1985.
Teller began his stage performance with his friend Weir Chrisemer with the name “The Othmar Schoeck Society for Preservation of Weird and Disgusting Music.”
After graduating in 1973 Jillette teamed up with his classmate Michael Moschen to performe juggling acts. He later graduated from Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Clown College.
Penn and Teller first met in 1974 through their mutual friend Chrisemer and began performing as three member group “Asparagus Valley Cultural Society” beginning with Minnesota Renaissance Festival.
Their main attraction is presenting the act in a “trick gone wrong” manner with comical side to it. Their theme includes graphic tricks, pranks political satire and exposing frauds.
Teller has performed some of the most daring tricks such as hanging upside down on cushion of spikes, run over by 18 wheel tractor trailer and being submerged in a water container.
They were honored with Richard Dawkins Award in 2005 for raising public awareness in Atheism in 2004.
The main theme of the show is to reveal to the audience how the trick is performed. Usually the trick is created by them for the sole purpose of exposing it. Hence the tricks are designed and performed in a more spectacular fashion than usually required for a normal magic.
Penn is sometimes known to write “There is no God” with his signature whenever he signs autographs.
Sometimes their routine also includes “Magician Vs Juggler” where one performs card trick and the other juggles. In between they deliver the monologue about the difference between the two: “Magicians are misfits who stay indoors and teach themselves magic while jugglers are social children who go out and teach others juggling too.
In the Music video “It’s Tricky” by the hip hop group Run-DMC, they appeared as three card Monte scam artists in 1987.
They have developed a nail gun trick where series of nails (with blank rounds in between) are fired on a wooden board and then on their palm without any injuries. They reveal to audience how the trick works and then pretend to forget the sequence of the nails.
In another trick Teller is placed in a black plastic bag filled with Helium. Audience id blinded with a bright light (for Teller to escape) and then the bag is allowed to float to the ceiling. It was first shown to public in Las Vegas in 2010.
They have always shown their displeasure with government authority in several of their shows. They have heavily criticized the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service.
They have also shown support against Gun Control and Circumcision as well as expressed their disbelief in Pseudoscience and Paranormal.
During an interview with Larry King Jillette said that their success on a long run has been due to them not being too close to each other. They have very little common besides magic and respect each other’s personal space.