Electric Monk

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Penn and Teller Perform at the Rio

Penn & Teller provided a large block of tickets for their Friday night show to the attendees of TAM at a discount. After seeing how many had signed up, the JREF team decided that it would be both economical and convenient to charter several buses to bring everyone from the Tuscany to the Rio and back. So, following the dinner with Randi, we all boarded the buses out in front of the hotel.

The tickets said that no cameras would be permitted inside, so I left mine in my room. As it turns out, I probably could have taken it with me without a problem, and you would be looking at some pictures of the trip, instead of a bunch of text. Oh well.

We found our seats with about 30 minutes remaining before show was to start. Penn & Teller actually start the show an hour ahead of the time printed on the tickets with "Music To Look At Boxes By". Everyone is invited to come on stage to look at the boxes which will be used in the escape to be performed by Teller. Meanwhile, Mike Jones played piano, and Penn played the bass.

The remainder of the show consisted of about 10 acts, of varying styles. After Teller's initial escape from the boxes, there was a spoof of a Vegas-style illusion, to which Penn & Teller promptly revealed its inner workings. Then, Penn put on a display of juggling torches (joyfully working in the opportunity to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater) and broken bottles. Other pieces include putting a rabbit in a wood chipper, knife throwing, an artful display of fire eating, and Penn escaping a noose while straightjacketed.

Penn & Teller have long been outspoken in defending the civil liberties of the American people, protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Their penultimate act made a very nice statement in support of real patriotism and love of country. The issue raised was flag burning, and the effect was simply that no matter what was done to the flag, in the end it was back waving proudly on its pole. Penn & Teller handled the flag reverently throughout the performance, and made it clear that they were both patriots and fervent defenders of the liberties of a free people. Well done. That was pretty cool, guys.

Finally it was time for their infamous bullet exchange. This I had seen done on television, but not live. If you have never seen this, the effect is that Penn & Teller fire marked bullets at each other on opposite sides of the stage, and catch them in their teeth. Everything is done with exaggerated precautions to demonstrate that the bullets cannot have crossed the stage in any other manner. I don't know how they're doing it, but it was fun to watch.

During the performance, a few references were made to the presence of the JREF in the audience. During box-inspection time, Mike Jones noted that "some of you might be skeptical...". Later, Penn acknowleged the presence of Randi in the audience.

We then headed back to the Tuscany in our buses, and many of us eventually migrated to Marilyn's Cafe inside the casino for discussions that lasted well into the early morning.

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