Penn and Teller ripped off by Koreans
February 28, 2008 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Today on Penn Jillette's video blog he mentions a hilarious crew of Koreans have ripped off an old Penn and Teller trick.
posted by byronimation (52 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
When does the hilarity begin?

(The P&T version is great, though.)
posted by DU at 10:41 AM on February 28, 2008


Does Penn get drunk before he does his video posts?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:46 AM on February 28, 2008


No, he's unfortunately like that all the time.
posted by item at 10:48 AM on February 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Can I assume Crackle is Sony's Youtube? Wondering why Penn's vid had a big ass Sony credit at the end. The HDNA thing was also a give away.. woooo.
posted by cavalier at 10:50 AM on February 28, 2008


Can I delete my obvious comment? They're not hiding it, rather, the About page is all about Sony making a youtube with some hipster pics.
posted by cavalier at 10:51 AM on February 28, 2008


No, he's unfortunately like that all the time.

I kinda get the impression that he's trying to mask annoyance with laughter. (Of course, I don't know the guy personally, but that's how it appears to me.)
posted by blenderfish at 10:52 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I understand his complaint. They ripped off his routine beat for beat. But I don't understand his complaint, because it's a standard of stage magic, and they're real contribution was simply exposing the trick. I mean, intellectual property? That's like complaining that someone store your "black people drive like this" joke because they used the same words. Hey, guy, it was an old joke to begin with.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:52 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wondering why Penn's vid had a big ass Sony credit at the end.

Because libertarians love their corporate overlords.
posted by DU at 10:54 AM on February 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


I once met Penn Gillette.

He is, by all accounts, a fat man.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 10:54 AM on February 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


That was actually kind of a drag. As I watched the P&T version, I knew exactly how they did it even before they did the clear box version.

I think I spent too much time watching magic shows as a kid.
posted by quin at 10:56 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Alternately, you may have seen "Don't Try This at Home!" on TV as a kid, and simply remembered the "how it's done" rather than the whole routine.

Happened to me (true story!)
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:01 AM on February 28, 2008


Jillette's laugh is really creepy in this clip. Just...off.

Like his show on Showtime though.
posted by aerotive at 11:01 AM on February 28, 2008


I also thought he was trying to mask annoyance (or display it) by the creepy laughter.

That Said, I find him to be a hot fat man.
posted by theredpen at 11:04 AM on February 28, 2008


Is it wrong that I could sing this song note for note, having only seen it once when I was very small? BLAST OFF/TRAP DOOR

Anyway, Penn & Teller should invite the Koreans to do a trick on Live TV, rehearse it, and then when it's time to do the trick, actually do another trick that totally schools the Koreans. That would rock.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:08 AM on February 28, 2008


It sounds like the only original part of the P&T bit is the "reveal" and that the first part is a trick performed by many magicians. So in essence, he's only annoyed that the Koreans are ALSO revealing how the trick works. It does not seem that that portion of the bit can be considered proprietary to P&T under any IP laws here.

Otherwise, would any basketball player who dunks from the free throw line have to pay Michael Jordan royalties, for instance?
posted by adamms222 at 11:14 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I saw Penn up close and personal a few months ago. He's not fat. He's HUGE. Like Frankenstein/Manute Bol/Andre the Giant huge. (Then again, maybe Teller's just tiny.)
posted by turducken at 11:20 AM on February 28, 2008


Teller is tiny but Penn is also huge. 6'4" IIRC. But I say this dismissively, since my dad is 6'8".
posted by DU at 11:29 AM on February 28, 2008


I understand his complaint.

I don't think he's complaining. He mentions that they ripped off his bit, and that he's a stickler for IP rights, but then he tells everyone how hysterically funny it is, and to GO WATCH IT.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:31 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had the opportunity to see Penn and Teller in Vegas, and they did this routine. Definitely worth seeing if you're in the area -- they're hilarious on stage, and it's great to see how even when they show you how they're doing things, they often still remain amazingly cool to watch.

It's hard to know how to feel about it. Yeah, you can't really say P&T "own" the original trick, but I'm sure, as Penn says, that he and Teller worked pretty hard on the choreography and all that. It's not like they just did a similar trick, they literally used the same soundtrack and dance moves, which is pretty crappy.
posted by tocts at 11:31 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Regardless of his creepy laugh in that crackle thing, their Letterman appearances are pure gold. It is a joy to watch cynical Dave get legitimately freaked out on live tv.
posted by mecran01 at 11:41 AM on February 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Jesus H, Penn is a lunatic. The random cackling is terrifying. The Vegas show is a ton of fun, though. Especially with a flask of bourbon at your side.

TRAP DOOR!
posted by uncleozzy at 11:42 AM on February 28, 2008


Does Penn get drunk before he does his video posts? - Astro Zombie

Penn doesn't drink at all. In fact, he's kind of militant about it.
posted by rush at 11:47 AM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hm, good thing I didn't offer him a swig after the show.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:53 AM on February 28, 2008


I have been a huge Penn and Teller fan since I was a kid. I have a bootleg of Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends, I own all their books, I love their Vegas stage show, I frequently check to see if Penn and Teller Get Killed is coming out on DVD. I enjoy Bullshit. But I have learned to avoid anything that Penn does without Teller by his side.

Penn is going to be on Dancing With the Stars next season.

Would Teller do that? (I bet Teller can dance).
posted by Bookhouse at 11:55 AM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]




Does Penn get drunk before he does his video posts? - Astro Zombie

Penn doesn't drink at all. In fact, he's kind of militant about it.


Living in Vegas he must be in a constant state of leaving.
posted by Mr_Zero at 12:04 PM on February 28, 2008


Penn doesn't drink at all. In fact, he's kind of militant about it.

I'm always puzzled about people who reject a common human experience. It's like being militant about never having sex or never eating ice cream. Hey, bully for you, you giant weirdo. More sazeracs for me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:15 PM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Teller's recent project is kinda interesting too. I'm very sorry that a prior engagement kept me from seeing him speak (!) last night.
posted by phearlez at 12:40 PM on February 28, 2008


People who "reject a common human experience" often have a good personal reason, in the case of alcoholism a reason such as having experienced serious alcoholism either in their own lives or in their families.
posted by Peach at 1:42 PM on February 28, 2008


Their show on Showtime sucked.
posted by oddman at 1:49 PM on February 28, 2008


People who "reject a common human experience" often have a good personal reason, in the case of alcoholism a reason such as having experienced serious alcoholism either in their own lives or in their families.

Nothing I have ever read from Penn indicates that this is the reason. And I've known a lot of alcoholics, and none of them walk out of the room when I have a glass of wine. There is something much crazier going on with this.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:05 PM on February 28, 2008


And I've known a lot of alcoholics, and none of them walk out of the room when I have a glass of wine. There is something much crazier going on with this.

I do wonder if he's being honest about leaving the dinner table if someone drinks. That is admittedly extreme. Teller, by the way, has also never had a drink of alcohol.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:16 PM on February 28, 2008


And anyhow, who could drive the desert bus all the way to Vegas without a handful of greenies?
posted by uncleozzy at 2:19 PM on February 28, 2008


Their show on Showtime sucked.

I enjoy it for the entertainment like it is supposed to be. What really sucks is people bringing up the "facts" they've gleaned from their shows in conversations about said topic. As if P&T are really spewing anthing other than their opinions.

And anyhow, who could drive the desert bus all the way to Vegas without a handful of greenies?

I'm going to beat that game someday!
posted by P.o.B. at 3:01 PM on February 28, 2008


It's always been really odd to me that they're huge libertarians who live in Vegas and think noone should drink. Mind you, they'd never support laws about it, but it's really odd.

I actually think it was pretty funny how much he was laughing about this. Of course he's annoyed, but he also thinks it's hilarious. That's a great response to it.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:02 PM on February 28, 2008


More sazeracs for me. - Astro Zombie

For someone with whom I commonly disagree so vigorously (if not vociferously), you have impeccable taste in cocktails. Cheers.
posted by rush at 3:07 PM on February 28, 2008


Penn and Teller are upset because the "rip off" act is funnier, wittier, and more dynamic than their transparent (ahem) rehearsal of an old vaudeville trick.

Hooray for open secrets and cross-cultural fertilization!
posted by mistersquid at 3:28 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a follow-up, mecran01's link to the Penn and Teller Letterman appearance is fantastic. I love it when Letterman is all "No, I'm not . . . I'm not . . ." as Penn consider chucking some random animal giblet Letterman's way.

in my earlier comment, did i really use "funnier" and "wittier" in series?
posted by mistersquid at 3:46 PM on February 28, 2008


Oh, and I forgot to add. Penn is a giant Velvet Underground fan. A VU fan who will never do any drugs at all! Would he leave the table if Lou Reed bought a beer?

Viva the world that has such weirdos in it.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:48 PM on February 28, 2008


All of the sideshow stunts I invented in the 1990's are now being performed by others. I don't feel "ripped off" at all, in fact I feel it's a compliment, as it demonstrates that the performers feel the stunts are worthwhile enough to perform. However, no one was duplicating the stunts contemporaneously when I was performing them, which probably would have aggravated me.

There is still an ethic alive in sideshow where performers will ask the originators if it is OK to use their stunts. I've had several such polite requests, and always encourage them. I don't know if the same holds true in the world of magic.

I must confess that we stole stunts from other performers. We got our hands on a videotape of a group called the "Tokyo Torture Boys", who did a very rapid string of sideshow stunts. The coolest stunt was a guy who put dry ice into his mouth and blew white "smoke" out. I was tasked with figuring out how to pull this off, and it's actually fairly easy to do.

Yes, Penn can be brusque. I remember complementing him for having alluded to Avogadro's number in their show. I think I failed to get the correct number of significant digits correct, as I remember he started to argue the point or correct me...

I have had the distinct pleasure of spending time with Teller. After I saw them do a handcuff stunt I gave Teller some lockpicks I made, though I'm not sure he pursued that skill. Teller is perhaps the most genteel man I have ever met.

There is not a distinct demarcation between magic and sideshow; I've seen a magic trick or two thrown into sideshow performances, and I've seen Penn and Teller do sideshow stunts. Frankly what I think Penn is doing on his video blog is simply good old fashioned hype.
posted by Tube at 4:42 PM on February 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Penn's a libertarian pseudoskeptic blowhard stage magician who spills the beans on the workings of his illusions. It's not surprising that his pathological need for a control and rationality would also manifest as an aversion to alcohol and other substances that lead to irrational thoughts and blurriness around the edges.
posted by bunnytricks at 4:44 PM on February 28, 2008


Anyway, Penn & Teller should invite the Koreans to do a trick on Live TV, rehearse it, and then when it's time to do the trick, actually do another trick that totally schools the Koreans. That would rock.

Really? That would rock? Actually that's pretty stupid.
posted by cazoo at 5:19 PM on February 28, 2008


I saw them do that exact same routine live on Broadway 20 years ago. Get over it already Penn. And write some new shit.
posted by vronsky at 10:27 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


A VU fan who will never do any drugs at all! Would he leave the table if Lou Reed bought a beer?

I always thought he didn't drink because he preferred weed? He's always been a big critic of the War on Drugs, and definitely looks like a man who is prone to the munchies from time to time.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:26 AM on February 29, 2008


From the NYTimes article Bookhouse linked: (In the article Mr.Walton performs (on Broadway) some magic tricks that had been performed by Mr.Jay in his Broadway show)

Teller, the non-speaking half of Penn and Teller, who has seen Mr. Jay’s shows but not Mr. Walton’s, said such debates arose quite often in the magic world. Outright ownership isn’t at stake, he added, but Mr. Jay’s act constituted a painstaking and innovative revival of some little-practiced classics, and a certain code of courtesy should apply.

“If an act hasn’t been prominently performed for a long time, and someone takes the trouble to bring it back from absolute death and put it into his act with fine touches, and which at least hasn’t been seen by a current generation,” he said, “the gentlemanly thing to do is say, ‘That’s his for now.’ ”

That said, he added, “magicians are not unique in their absence of creativity.”


Nice article on the topic. Thanks.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:26 AM on February 29, 2008


"Tokyo Torture Boys"

Tokyo Shock Boys? I've seen them busk. They are very silly indeed, in a'live scorpions down the trousers' kind of way.
posted by Sparx at 3:50 AM on February 29, 2008


Is this where we put in our bets about how long he'll last on Dancing With the Stars? I mean, he even got botox for it. Clearly he's a serious contender.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:56 AM on February 29, 2008


Oh, and for those of you calling him fat, the guy's lost about 50 pounds already for the show.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:57 AM on February 29, 2008


Man, that display Swiss Army Knife in the background is mesmerising... once went past a shop that sold all that sort of stuff... I was so tempted to get one of those robot model butcher things slowly waved a cleaver up and down on a fake side of beef. Look great in living room window.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:43 AM on March 1, 2008


Teller is awesome, because he schools newspaper columnists on grammar.

Dear Holly Love,

I enjoyed your article in the August Metro, and thought - as a former Latin teacher and grammar nut - I might be able to help you understand a few terms about which you might be a bit hazy.

First off: "split infinitive."


"My mission has always been (and I split that infinitive in the name of standard usage) to ignore virtues like integrity and altruism and judge people on their syntax savvy instead."

That's not a split infinitive. An infinitive is a verb form beginning with a "to" as in "to ignore." It is called "infinitive" because it is locked into no one position in time.

You are separating two parts of a verb whose helping verb is "has." That's perfectly conventional. "I have never been a grammarian," is a fine sentence.

Here's an example of splitting an infinitive: "It's easier than it looks to accidentally misuse the term 'split infinitive' in an article on grammar." And, hell, nowadays that's deemed perfectly acceptable.

posted by Locative at 4:41 AM on March 1, 2008


Apologies for the formatting. What have I done?
posted by Locative at 4:45 AM on March 1, 2008


Oh the koreans rip things off of US/Janpanese shows all the time.
no biggie, I mean like it seems like they have a rule where if you "translate" it to another language.. it's not plagiarism
posted by insatiablehee at 6:15 AM on March 12, 2008


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