Teller (magician)

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Teller
Teller 2012.jpg
Teller in July 2012
Born
Raymond Joseph Teller

(1948-02-14) February 14, 1948 (age 71)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma mater Amherst College
Years active1974–present
Political party Libertarian
Parent(s)
  • Irene B. Derrickson
  • Joseph Teller (1913–2004)
Website pennandteller.com

Teller (born Raymond Joseph Teller; February 14, 1948) is an American magician, illusionist, writer, actor, painter, and film director. He is best known as half of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller, along with Penn Jillette. Teller usually does not speak during performances. He is an atheist, debunker, skeptic, and a fellow of the Cato Institute (a free market libertarian think tank that also lists Jillette as a fellow), an organization which is featured prominently in the duo's Showtime series Bullshit! . Teller legally changed his name from "Raymond Joseph Teller" to the mononym "Teller". [1] [2]

Penn & Teller American illusionists and entertainers

Penn & Teller are American magicians and entertainers who have performed together since the late 1970s, noted for their ongoing act that combines elements of comedy with magic.

Penn Jillette American magician

Penn Fraser Jillette is an American magician, actor, musician, inventor, television personality, and best-selling author best known for his work with fellow magician Teller as half of the team Penn & Teller. The duo have been featured in numerous stage and television shows such as Penn & Teller: Fool Us, and Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, and are currently headlining in Las Vegas at The Rio. Jillette serves as the act's orator and raconteur.

Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.

Contents

Early life

Teller was born Raymond Joseph Teller [3] [4] in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, [5] the son of Irene B. (née Derrickson) and Israel Max "Joseph" Teller (1913–2004). [6] [7] His father, who was of Russian-Jewish descent, was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Philadelphia. His mother was from a Delaware farming family; the two met as painters attending art school at Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial. [8] [9] His mother was Methodist, and Teller was raised as "a sort of half-assed Methodist". [10] He graduated from Central High School in 1965. In 1969, Teller graduated from Amherst College with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics and became a high-school Latin teacher. [11]

Delaware State of the United States of America

Delaware is one of the 50 states of the United States, in the South-Atlantic or Southern region. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, north by Pennsylvania, and east by New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean. The state takes its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia's first colonial governor.

Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial building in Pennsylvania, United States

Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, also known as Church of the Evangelists and St. Martin's College for Indigent Boys, is a set of four buildings with a history that unites idealism or religious beliefs, service to the poor, and art. Formerly an Episcopal church in the working-class Bella Vista neighborhood of South Philadelphia, it is best known as the home of the Graphic Sketch Club founded by Samuel S. Fleisher, which offers free art lessons to children and adults.

Central High School (Philadelphia) high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Central High School is a public high school in the Logan section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Central, the second-oldest continuously public high school in the United States, was founded in 1836 and is a four-year university preparatory magnet school.

Although he and his show business partner, Penn Jillette, do not drink or use drugs, Teller did drink alcohol in his early 20s but stopped and later said, "It made me stupid and careless and I disliked that. It also ruined my sleep. I'm just scared of drugs. Messing with your brain seems really dangerous." [12] Teller taught Greek and Latin at Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. [13] [14] [15] In 2001, he was selected to be a member of the Central High School Hall of Fame.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Lawrence High School (New Jersey) school in Lawrenceville, New Jersey

Lawrence High School (LHS) is a four-year comprehensive public high school in Lawrence Township, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States, serving students in ninth through twelfth grades as the lone secondary school of the Lawrence Township Public Schools. The school has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Secondary Schools since 1992.

Lawrenceville, New Jersey Census-designated place in New Jersey, United States

Lawrenceville is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located within Lawrence Township in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the CDP's population was 3,887. Lawrenceville is located roughly halfway between Princeton and Trenton.

Career

Performing

Teller began performing with his friend Weir Chrisemer as The Othmar Schoeck Society for the Preservation of Weird and Disgusting Music. Teller met Penn Jillette in 1974, and they became a three-person act with Chrisemer called Asparagus Valley Cultural Society, which started at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and subsequently played in San Francisco. In 1981, they began performing exclusively together as Penn & Teller, an act that continues to this day. On April 5, 2013, Penn and Teller were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the live performance category. Their star, the 2,494th awarded, is near the star dedicated to Harry Houdini. [16] The following day they were recognized by the Magic Castle with the Magicians of the Year award. [16]

Harry Houdini American magician, escapologist, and stunt performer

Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-born American illusionist and stunt performer, noted for his sensational escape acts. He first attracted notice in vaudeville in the US and then as "Harry Handcuff Houdini" on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up. Soon he extended his repertoire to include chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, straitjackets under water, and having to escape from and hold his breath inside a sealed milk can with water in it.

Voice

Teller almost never speaks while performing. There are exceptions, such as when the audience is not aware of it; for example, he provided the voice of "Mofo the psychic gorilla" in their early Broadway show with the help of a radio microphone cupped in his hand. Teller's trademark silence originated during his youth, when he earned a living performing magic at college fraternity parties. [17] He found that if he maintained silence throughout his act, spectators refrained from throwing beer and heckling him and paid more attention to his performance. [18]

Fraternities and sororities, or Greek letter organizations (GLOs), are social organizations at colleges and universities. A form of the social fraternity, they are prominent in the United States and the Philippines, with much smaller numbers existing in France, Canada, and elsewhere. Similar organizations exist in other countries as well, including the Studentenverbindungen of German-speaking countries.

Other exceptions to his silent act include instances in which his face is covered or obscured, as when he spoke while covered with a plastic sheet in the series premiere of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! , [19] and when he was interviewed while in shadow for the 2010 History Channel documentary, Houdini: Unlocking the Mystery, [20] while Teller spoke at length in an NPR story on Houdini in 2010. [21] He was also interviewed, with his mouth obscured in shadow, in the Nova ScienceNow episode "How Does the Brain Work?" Teller appears to say "Science!" in a falsetto voice in Penn and Teller's appearance on the television show Bill Nye the Science Guy, episode "Light Optics," but it was actually spoken by Penn, using a ventriloquist technique combined with the movement of Teller's mouth. Teller also spoke in his 1987 guest appearance in "Like a Hurricane," a fourth-season episode on NBC's Miami Vice [ citation needed ] and had speaking parts in the movies Penn & Teller Get Killed (he speaks in the final scene), Long Gone and The Aristocrats . He gave voice to an animated version of himself in two episodes of The Simpsons ("Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder" and "The Great Simpsina"), and voiced a series of cloned store clerks in "Zoey's Zoo," an episode of Oh Yeah! Cartoons , as well as the English version of the 1988 animated feature Light Years (original French title: Gandahar), where he was the voice of Octum. Teller speaks at length about magic performance and sleight-of-hand in the documentary "Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour". Teller has been shown screaming and swearing in the "Anger Management" episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!. Teller has a brief speaking part in Atlas Shrugged: Part II , where he advises Dagny Taggart (played by Samantha Mathis) to go out the side door of the Taggart Transcontinental offices.

<i>Penn & Teller: Bullshit!</i> television series

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! is an American documentary television series that aired from 2003 to 2010 on the premium cable channel Showtime.

<i>Nova ScienceNow</i> television series

Nova ScienceNow is a spinoff of the long-running and venerable PBS science program Nova. Premiering on January 25, 2005, the series was originally hosted by Robert Krulwich, who described it as an experiment in coverage of "breaking science, science that's right out of the lab, science that sometimes bumps up against politics, art, culture". At the beginning of season two, Neil deGrasse Tyson replaced Krulwich as the show's host. Tyson announced he would leave the show and was replaced by David Pogue beginning season 6.

Falsetto is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave.

Teller did break his silence in his portrayal of Mortimer in the 1995 film version of The Fantasticks , though almost all of his dialogue was edited out of the film's final version (his "Dying isn't easy" scene is included among deleted scenes on the DVD release). He appeared as a "cat" in the Dharma & Greg season 1 episode "The Cat's out of the Bag". He also appeared in an episode of Tosh.0 giving "advice" to a fellow magician. He stood staring at the gentleman for several seconds before uttering "Practice once in a fuckin' while" while walking away. Teller spoke at length during an interview on the Charlie Rose television program on January 27, 2014. During their performance in the series premiere of Penn & Teller: Fool Us , Penn is rambling on and Teller yells out his name, Teller can then be heard telling Penn to "shut up". Also, during their performance on the season 1 finale, he tells Penn that he is okay after breathing helium and while he is in a trash bag. In another episode, he says "Fuck, no!"

Teller's voice can be heard on season 13 of Celebrity Apprentice , "Episode 10: The Mayor of Stress Town", when speaking with contestant Penn Jillette over Penn's mobile device. He also spoke about Tim's Vermeer , the feature documentary he directed, on KCRW's The Treatment. [22]

Teller plays himself, with voice, in Showtime's Dice season 2, episode 4. [23] He also appeared in the season 11 finale of CBS's The Big Bang Theory as Amy's father. Throughout the show, he is prevented from speaking by his wife, played by Kathy Bates. Once Penny shuts her down, however, Teller tells her (albeit in a whisper) "Thank you." In the first episode of season 12 he participates in dialogues normally.

Writing

Teller collaborated with Jillette on three magic books, and is also the author of "When I'm Dead All This Will Be Yours!": Joe Teller – A Portrait by His Kid (2000), a biography/memoir of his father. The book features his father's paintings and 100 unpublished cartoons which were strongly influenced by George Lichty's Grin and Bear It . The book was favorably reviewed by Publishers Weekly . Teller's father's "wryly observed scenes of Philadelphia street life" were created in 1939. Teller and his father's "memories began to pump and the stories flowed" after they opened boxes of old letters that Teller read out loud (learning for the first time about a period in his parents' lives that he knew nothing about, such as the fact that his father's name is really Israel Max Teller). Joe's Depression-era hobo adventures led to travels throughout the U.S., Canada and Alaska, and by 1933, he returned to Philadelphia for art study. After Joe and Irene met during evening art classes, they married, and Joe worked half-days as a Philadelphia Inquirer copy boy. When the Inquirer rejected his cartoons, he moved into advertising art just as World War II began. Employing excerpts from letters and postcards, Teller successfully re-creates the world of his parents in a relaxed writing style of light humor and easy (yet highly effective) transitions between the past and present. [7]

Teller is a co-author of the paper "Attention and Awareness in Stage magic: Turning Tricks into Research", published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience (November 2008). [24]

In 2010, Teller wrote Play Dead , [25] a "throwback to the spook shows of the 1930s and '40s" that ran September 12–24 in Las Vegas before opening Off Broadway in New York. The show stars sideshow performer and magician Todd Robbins. [26]

Directing

In 2008, Teller and Aaron Posner co-directed a version of Macbeth which incorporated stage magic techniques in the scenes with the Three Witches. [27] In 2014, Teller and Posner co-directed a version of The Tempest , which again made use of stage magic; in an interview Teller stated that "Shakespeare wrote one play that's about a magician, and it seemed like about time to realize that with all the capabilities of modern magic in the theater." [28] In 2018, Teller and Posner co-conceived and directed a brand new production of Macbeth at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Chicago, Illinois. [29]

Teller directed a feature film documentary, Tim's Vermeer , which was released in 2014. [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] He and Jillette served as executive producers, with distribution by Sony Pictures Classics. [35]

Books

Film and television

YearTitleRoleNotes
1989 Penn & Teller Get Killed Self
1995 The Fantasticks Mortimer
1995;
1997
The Drew Carey Show GellerSeason 1 episode 6: "Drew Meets Lawyers"
Season 2 episode 17: "See Drew Run"
1998 Dharma & Greg Mr. BootsSeason 1 episode 20: "The Cat's Out of the Bag"
Babylon 5 ZootySeason 5 episode 8: "Day of the Dead"
1999;
2011
The Simpsons SelfSeason 11 episode 6: "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder"
Season 22 episode 18: "The Great Simpsina"
2000 Fantasia 2000
2003–2010 Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
2004The West WingSeason 6 episode 8: "In the Room"
2011;
2015–present
Penn & Teller: Fool Us
2016 Director's Cut Rudy Nelson
2018 The Big Bang Theory Larry Fowler3 episodes

See also

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References

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