Teller's Chat Transcript
TELLER - ok folks, start
<fuzzyone> Q: Any chance we'll see you in Canada?
TELLER - If it ain't on the schedule, then it ain't in
the cards at the moment.
<MsUnivac> Q: When did you realize you were an
TELLER - oh, let's see.... hmmm... it's hard to pin
down I don't think I named it "athiest" until i
hung around with Penn for a while...
* Rand0m > (when jesus told him he is)
TELLER - and realized that I wasn't merely
uncertain, I positively BELIEVED there was no God.
<IslaStar> Q: I met you for the 2nd time last month
in Boston. My name is Amy and Im a friend of Penns. I
talked to him briefly about this but would love to hear
more about how you did the upside-down thing in your
movie. It must have been incredibly difficult!
TELLER - A: (Upside-down) both Penn and I are rather
fair-skinned...so they had to paint us with really thick yellow
grease paint... they call it
"Anti-Red"... every bit of our costumes were
taped to our flesh, and we had video monitors that were
sitting right-side up, so we could see what we
looked like upside-down, because we were upside-down,
looking at the monitors. When we first did it on SNL, I
thought we didn't have a chance in HELL that we'd execute
all that stuff without one of the dingbat camera men moving the camera too far up/down...
<IslaStar> Penn said you broke all the blood
vessels in your faces...
<TELLER> and those tricks we do, like when
Penn throws the light bulb through the hoop... well you just can't imagine how
HARD that stuff is when gravity is in the wrong place.
<Psyonia> Q: Would you ever consider publishing a
book just for your short stories and essays?
TELLER - YES, I probably will publish a book of my
short-stories and essays.. give me ten more years or so, to get a few more
in the bag.
<XmasPlant> Q: This is a question from Kara. I
really enjoyed The Juliet Letters article! It made me fall in love with that album.
Any other musical recommendations that inspired you or have had a
profound effect on you?
TELLER - the piece that changed my life was the
Wanda Landowska recording of the well-tempered Clavier by Bach. I
was studying for my finals in the Illiad (in Greek of course) in the room of
a fellow student, who had crazy Wanda on his phonograph. I got
REALLY sleepy aboput 4am, and tottered to my room for a nap. For the
next solid hour, I dreamed Greek text, with a soundtrack of Wanda at the
harpsichord.. it was CREEPY! There was so much power in
<Miriam> wish I'd heard the beginning of this
story the way that music was put together...
* daputz is 19/m/Canada and recently saw Penn &
Teller at Balley's in L.V. and wanted to tell him what a good show it was
TELLER - A: (continued) that I HAD to understand
it, so I started taking Music & Theory courses. And those courses led
me to think about art in time, in a way that still effects me today. I
don't think I could plot a P&T bit if I hadn't had that Bach stuck in my
head back in college.
<Solinas> Q: Your effect with the flower and the shadow gives me chills. What
was your inspiration for the effect?
<TELLER> (Shadows) I was sitting in my room
late at night when I was about 16. I had lit a candle, and I was
fascinated with playschool blocks. So I built a tower of the blocks on my
tabletop Next to the candle. I noticed the shadow of the blocks on
the wall. On an impulse, I reached over and touched the
shadow... and at that same moment flicked the fingers against the tower of
blocks. They clattered to the desktop and I got chills. I spent the
next 11 years thinking about the idea off & on. For some reason
Playschool blocks didn't seem right for the stage. I built myself voodoo
dolls & tried it with that... but the dolls looked mechanical.
Somewhere around 1975... I hit on the notion of using the rose, and almost
immediately the idea at the blood at the end came to me. I planned to prick myself
on the thorn of the rose, but when I tried that in front of the audience, they didn't
understand the gesture. So now I cut myself on the knife, and everyone understands.
Someday maybe I'll be a good enough actor to convey the idea of the thorn.
<Jivaro> I always thought you pricked yourself with
<MsUnivac> Q: You have a knack for picking great
subject matter for your articles. Could you discuss your selection process... how
you decide something is worth pursuing and writing about?
TELLER - I write things that capture my interest to my friends on the
internet. They're just letters. Every once in a while,
when I finish a letter... I'll think "You know? This would make
sense in an article!" my pieces also sometimes start out as diary entries.
<Jivaro> Q: Have you been thinking about doing
TELLER - Right now we're in a top-secret deal about
a TV series, we'll let you guys know as soon as we're allowed to talk about
<Mofobabe> wow , that is good news
<Rand0m> Q: What is your favorite myth, or
mythological cycle, and why? And in the same vein, to what mythological figure/type
would you relate yourself/your work?
TELLER - ..thinking...
TELLER - hhhmmmm....
TELLER - ( TEX - you stumped him!)
* JR laughes
<XmasPlant> he he he
* MagicGirl sets back siping her tea
* TellerBot is stunned by his namesake
TELLER - as much as you might think I'm a big
mythology buff, cause I used to teach Latin, I don't really pay much attention
<XmasPlant> Q: I ADORED the Mutter!! Do you have a
favorite section or exhibit?
TELLER - The wall of skulls.
<dymphna> Q Is there any chance the Fantastiks will
see the light of day? On video or anyplace else?
TELLER - from everything I hear from the studio,
I'm sorry to say...NO.
<Mofobabe> if anybody did not get answered ask
> <JR> q: The one about secrets revealed was it
<Falsto> no my secrets revealed q didn't get
<JR> I 2nd that falsto i want the answer on that
<Keet> i 3rd it
<MagicGirl> Q: What do you think of David Blaine?
he did that show "Street Magic"
TELLER - I loved that show, I thought it was the
best magic special I've ever seen on TV. It doesn't bother me that
Blaine is not the greatest close-up performer in the world....
<JR> agreed here teller
TELLER - That show had GRIT. You could feel what it felt
like to watch a great magic trick.
<XmasPlant> it was a great magic show
<XmasPlant> Q: Is there anything you miss about
TELLER - (pause)...not that I can think of!
<fuzzyone> Q: What do you think of David
<MagicGirl> Fuzz dont go there
<JR> I 2nd that falsto i want the answer on that
<fuzzyone> Sorry, didn't mean to offend.
TELLER - I don't really think of him much at all.
He's working in an entirely different form. Um, to me it's like a foreign
language...I don't get it.
> <Falsto> I wish Stuttering John would go at DC
with his questions
<JR> the guy cracks me up...
<Falsto> Q: What's up with this "first TV
interview" you did for TLC?
TELLER - uh...better keep your eyes on that
carefully. I think its an imposter posing as me. You never see his lips
move, do you?
<Psyonia> Q: Do you ever see any of your former
students at shows?
TELLER - Frequently, they're all bald and have 2 kids.
<Psyonia> hee hee hee
* XmasPlant chuckles
<tgoddess> Okay, here's the question AGAIN. Where
did the names Skippy Buggs and Rudy come from?
TELLER - Long ago, there was a first initial attached
to my name... One reporter thought it was the letter R. He took Penn
aside and said "So, what does the R stand for?" Penn acted very
serious and embarassed...
<XmasPlant> how can you be serious and embarrassed
at the same time?
TELLER - he said "If you PROMISE not to tell Teller
I told you, I'll tell you"..the reporter promised... Penn
whispered "It was Rudolph"..the reporter was gleeful, and kept
his dirty little secret to himself. Naturally, Penn was lying. So, when we came to
name our little company, we wanted to call it "________ and Rudy's
Discount Corp. We needed one Syllable. We were discussing gansters at the
time.. Buggs seemed perfect. Skippy? I don't know, we nickname people
all sorts of names...
TELLER - A: (continued) we call our
business manager Binky. Our old Director of Internal Affairs we called Sweetie Pie...
TELLER - When we performed with the Boston Pops,
the conductor was so small and Cub Scout-like, we called him Skippy.
<tgoddess> And Krasher is just "Krasher."
And Glenn is Shecky. And Nate is going to end up being "Pierco, the Goped
<TheBosley> <---doesn't want to know what they
call the Stalkers!
<Miriam> LOL. I thought maybe there was a fan
<XmasPlant> he he he
<Miriam> How did you guys get to be on babylon 5?
TELLER - A:(Bab5)they called us out of the blue, I
suppose it's because they wanted a comedy team, and there's nobody left
as a comedy team except us and the Smothers Brothers. And I bet we were
<Keet> Q: what did you think of the "secrets
TELLER - Didn't see either one, heard they were BORING.
It's not as easy as it might seem to expose a trick and make
<tgoddess> It wasn't easy for this guy to do the
tricks WITHOUT the exposure and make it entertaining.
<MagicGirl> I hated those shows
<fuzzyone> I did too. I don't want to know!
<Falsto> Valentino can toss my salad
<MagicGirl> Q: There is a rumor that the reason you
don't talk (much) on stage is beacuse you don't like your voice. Any truth to
TELLER - See our show, listen to the spirit singing
in the cabinet. What extraordinary beauty of tone, pitch, and
<XmasPlant> he he he
tgoddess> Teller's singing voice is lovely.
<XmasPlant> yes it is quite
<Miriam> I agree, TG!!
<MagicGirl> I guess that's a no on the truth factor
<Rand0m> Q: Are you more intuitive or logical in
the process you go through when coming up with bits? From what you've
described, it sounds as if there have been quite a few "happy
accidents" resulting in your pieces.
TELLER - I watch for accidents. Watching for them
makes them happen, and makes them useful.. but once that moment of
inspiration is over, logic, research, labor, and much furrowing of the brow is
what turns that accident into something worth the price of admission.
Believe me, if you had seen me in my room with the playschool blocks, you
wouldnt have paid a dime.
<Rand0m> oh, I know a few people who probably would. *grin*
<UriSux> wow..Tex spells goooood
<ctuna> : Teller, Hi from Diane (Bubbles) and me!
Also, do you know a place near L.A. called "Aladdin's Books and
Magic", (nostalgic Magic supplies, etc.) and would you like to meet for lunch
while youre in the area?
TELLER - Why yes I know Aladdin books, thanks very much.
<JR> Q: How much of a role do you play scripting
the bits as far as what Penn says?
TELLER - A:(scripting) It's hard to nail down exactly
where all the text comes from, but my and large, once we have decided what
"beats" we are going to hit, Penn leaves the action to me, and I leave
the words to him.
<fuzzyone> Q: Have you ever performed in Canada?
TELLER - Yes, many times, we were in the Missisauga late
<MagicGirl> Q: what (if any) advice do you have for
a magician just geting started?
TELLER - 2 things... ONE - read books on magic
rather than buying a lot of junky props from the magic store. TWO - perform.
No, not just in front of your mirror...
<Falsto> is he hella "lapper"?
TELLER - perform for PEOPLE. Go after every birthday
party, Cub Scout banquet, and Bar-Mitzvah that you can get. Your
first 1,000 shows will probably be AWFUL... painful.. the kids may throw
things - they threw things at me -but if you've got a real calling, you will
go home, wash the goo out of your costume, dry your tears, have a nice
strong cup of tea, and pack for the next show.
<UriSux> U can tell a magician... he's the only non
Jew that remembers his first Bar-Mitzvah
<tgoddess> Q: Who is the best close-up worker
you've ever seen?
TELLER - impossible to say. I've seen lots of
breath-taking, throat-clutching, close-up. I've seen Jamy Swiss, Eddie
Fechter, Mike Close, and MANY others. Some of these guys are so good,
it really makes me ashamed to call myself a Magician.
* daputz waves goodbye to everyone nice to see you
teller, have a good
<Mofobabe> okay, I'm asking this for someone else
OKAY....... but ... their question is " does it ever get bothersome
for you that people tend to call you " cute" all the time?
TELLER - yes, I think it's revolting.
<XmasPlant> Q: I heard a rumor that you were going
to take on writing a column for a magazine or newspaper... Is there any truth
to this rumor?
TELLER - Yes, Esquire mag., starting as soon as I can get my ass in
<tgoddess> Georgia, are your fingers falling off
<Falsto> Q: What do you think of Howard Stern? And
have you ever been asked "really good" questions by Studdering
TELLER - A:(Stern) I've met Howard only once, he's
a hard-nosed businessman. Thats my whole impression of him.
<tgoddess> Q: What magic books (if any) have you
read recently that you'd recommend?
TELLER - Recently :"The Genius of Robert
Harbin" by Eric Lewis, quite inspiring.
<IslaStar> Q: Has there ever been a time, perhaps
when you weren't as successful, when it seemed like you should move on to
other projects separately? Have your goals/vision always coincided?
(hope that's not too broad)
TELLER - (goals) Let me think...
<ctuna> Comment: Just wanted to say
"THANKS" to both you guys for doing this kind of thing for your fans.
<fuzzyone> Me too. It's great what you do for your fans.
TELLER - We have had doubts, and we have had fights so
deep and long that they make me think of fights between
Tyrannosaruses and Stegasaruses. But...we have always been able to rely on
one another. It's that reliability, that assurance, that when the gig
happens, your partner will show up SOBER and do his job. That's a lot
more important than agreeing on every artistic point.
<tgoddess> Teller would make a good marriage counselor.
<IslaStar> But there was never a point when one of
you said "I think I'm going to dental school; see ya"??
<UriSux> Q: have U heard from Elaine Lund lately
AND... whats the news on The Foxy one passing after DMC?
TELLER - Spoke with Elaine Lund maybe 3 months ago..she's
an impressive lady. Bob was a great guy, but not a very good
organizer. he left her the world's most interesting private museum, and
Michigan's biggest organizational headache. But Elaine is very strong. She
and that museum will survive.
<UriSux> uh huh...tough old broad...LOL
<XmasPlant> Q: Have you done any interviews in
print lately that we should be reading soon?
TELLER -Nothing national, it's all been press for the LA run which starts March 24. But do make sure to tune to
Dharma & Greg April 1!
<Rand0m> Q: We know about what fascinates you about
magic, what you love business?
TELLER - Magic is a REALLY hard form to work
in. Everything you do has to look impossible. This isn't any stroll in the park, ya
know...I mean... all a song writer has to do is write a clever song. He doesn't have to
make the guitar do backflips in the air over the audience while he's
singing. OH! It's too damn hard!
<ctuna> Don't tell Nugent that.
<fuzzyone> You do make it look easy though -
impossible, but easy
<UriSux> Q: and the news on Karrol?...have only
<ctuna> Yeah, we need GOSSIP!
<UriSux> no...gossip is bad
TELLER - A:(Karroll) Karroll Fox died in Las Vegas
at his hotel room last Wed. night or Thurs morning.
<JR> oh NO!
<UriSux> I got an email but didn't believe it
<tgoddess> someone on alt.magic wrote a nice little
obit about him...
<Solinas> alt.magic was very quick with the news
<UriSux> well i called Mullica and he hasnt
returned yet and grrr....thank U
<Keet> good night everyone
<tgoddess> I have a question about the barrel bit.
I could have SWORN that in a very early iteration of it, both you AND Penn
were on stage together during it and you were talking about how tall
you were (it was in Cleveland a couple years ago, I believe). Am I
hallucinating on this?
<tgoddess> If I'm mistaken, I owe Swiss an apology.
We argued about this for 20 minutes....
TELLER - No Maggie, on this one thing, you're NOT halucinating!...
<tgoddess> HA! I KNEW it!
TELLER - That was our very first attempt to put the barrel trick
on stage. Don't you feel privileged to have seen such an unspeakably bad
performance? That's what proves you're a REAL fan. You
still like us after you saw THAT.
<tgoddess> What do you mean "THIS TIME?"
<TheBosley> <---Was at that Cleveland show too!
<tgoddess> Oh, Teller...you know I'm only a fan
'cuz Krash pays me under the table! Hee-heee.
<Solinas> <----- sad he's never seen it.
<XmasPlant> Q: You said once that if you weren't a
magician, you'd be a film director. Are there any directors now that you feel
are doing a great job? And, are there any directors you'd like to
TELLER - Thinking...Many. Any.
<Jivaro> Q: I'm not sure if you saw my message
earlier. I've seen (and met) you about four times (in AZ) when you were at the
Scottsdale Center of the Arts and Gammage Audotorium. I was the t-shirt/rat
trap/bible guy. Remember me?
TELLER - Remember you? Of course I do!.... I remember every
single person who has ever come on stage in the 5 or 6 THOUSAND
performances Ive given.
<Jivaro> You let me pet the rabbit once. :)
<tgoddess> I'm looking forward to the "new
& improved" Barrel segment in June. It'll one part the Stalkers won't have memorized
<Falsto> Q: How would a guy get a job with such a
fine organization as yours, and what kind of skills would be needed/are you
<UriSux> LOL...Fals still lookin fera gig
TELLER - If you can invent brilliant AND practical
material, that suits our style, there's a lucrative job waiting. But i
will caution you.... many have tried. ALL have failed.
<dymphna> Q Recently in People magazine there was a
story about a fellow who claims to speak (for a price) to the spirits of
deceased loved ones. Why do you think that charlatains like these keep popping
up? Why do people want to believe in frauds like this?
<tgoddess> Read Mike Shermer's book, WHY PEOPLE
BELIEVE WEIRD THINGS, and you'll get a better idea of why, dymphna.
<Rand0m> fabulous book. also read a lot of Martin
Gardner, just to secure yourself even further against such atrocities. ;}
<dymphna> it's on my list Maggie. Im asking for an
TELLER - The world is very complicated. Complexity
scares some people, and they retreat to simple, and invariabely wrong but
consoling explanations of things... Beats me why they should be
<UriSux> hey...we seellin books here??? have I GOT a
book for U!!!
<tgoddess> So Teller...are you going to take that
guy up who offered to put you and Penn in a porno movie? Hee-hee.
<tgoddess> I just want you guys to know that I DO
forward your stuff to the guys.
<XmasPlant> hey now, maggie!!
<MsUnivac> Q: I was surprised to learn you and Penn
started out not each other. When did things start to change? Do you
genuinely like each other now?
TELLER - (TEX - ok, MsUnivac's question will be answered, then ONE more....then
<fuzzyone> Q: Will you do this again?
<tgoddess> Oh, sure...bail when I ask the JUICY
<ctuna> <-- wondering what the title would be
(of porn movie)
TELLER -It took about 10 years for us to realize that,in
spite of our almost daily, knock-down, drag-out fights, we were each
the best friend the other would ever have.
<Rand0m> Q: Is your work an outlet for your
emotions, ordo you stay detatched from it emotionally?
TELLER - Art is not an easy outlet for the emotions, it's
not like screaming or dancing around in a circle. There's
work involved. But once the work is done, you end up feeling your emotions
expressed with more freedom than any random exclamation could equal. There's nothing
in the world more satisfying.
TELLER - Of course I'll do this again.... good night!
<MsUnivac> Thank you
<Jivaro> Thanks for being here!
<fuzzyone> Thanks - that was great!
Nick change: TELLER -> Tex
<Mofobabe> thanks for being here teller
JR thanks teller for being here...as i'm sure we all do
Additional Questions & Answers************
Upon reviewing the transcripts of the chat, Tex (Gerogia Maher)
noticed that 4 questions were not answered. She asked
Teller if he would mind answering the questions via email and he graciously
agreed. Here are those questions and answers:
<IslaStar. Your piece "The Price of
Admission" is beautiful. Can you say
more about how artists 'pay' for what they do?
TELLER : I'm afraid I said it all as well as I could in
that piece. The rest is the reader's job.
<MsUnivac> How did you hit upon the notion of
refusing to apologize to each other in your professional relationship? How do you
make it work?
Teller: We noticed that apologizing seemed to be a way to
continue an argument, usually more meanly. "I'm sorry I
smashed into your car. There just didn't seem to be another way out of the
driveway you were blocking...."etc. We can smell a fight coming
now, and when it happens, we just quickly stop. Sometimes this means walking away
from each other and pulling it together. Sometimes it's just a quick
change of topic. Now, mind you, this does NOT apply to artistic
disagreements. On artistic disagreements, we really hash stuff out to the
last hairsplit. It's not always fun, but it's how we make progress and
get the really hard stuff in place. The development of our newish Houdini seance/opera
piece was one long artistic argument, and the result is something I'm very proud of, a rich, strange event neither of us would
ever have dreamt up by himself.
<TFinn> If you could kill Andrew Lloyd Webber
without fear of punishment, how would you do it?
TELLER - Oh, I'd let the gnome live, confine him to
the set of Sunset Boulevard, and force him to listen to Sarah Brightman and
Michael Crawford 24 hours a day. That's the hell he deserves.
<tgoddess> Are you going to take that guy up on his offer to put you & Penn in a porno movie?
TELLER - I don't think we've decided yet. It's sure an intriguing proposition. And I suspect we'd be in
character rather than romantic lead roles.
A HUGE thank you to Teller for being so gracious,
patient, sharing and wonderful!
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