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All About Penn

When was Penn born?
Penn was born on March 5, 1955 in Greenfield, MA.

What is the significance of Penn's one red fingernail (left ring finger)?
There are three common answers to this question.
1) It means he once shot a man for asking personal questions
2) When Penn first began performing, his mother told him to get a manicure because people would be looking at his hands. In response to this, Penn had all of his nails painted red as a joke. The one remaining red fingernail is in honor of his dear mother.
3) The red fingernail provides excellent misdirection and is just plain cool.

How tall is Penn?
Penn is 6'6" in bare feet.

How did Penn get started in magic?
Penn was never really involved with magic until he met Teller. Penn began juggling at a young age, and performed along with his neighbor, Michael Moschen.


All About Teller


When was Teller born?
Teller was born on February 14, 1948 in Philadelphia, PA

What is Teller's real name?
Teller's full legal name is just Teller. He has one of the few US passports that has been issued with a single name.

How did Teller get started in magic?
Teller received a Howdy Doody magic kit from his parents when he was five years old.

How tall is Teller?
Teller is 5'9".

Why doesn't Teller speak during the show?
When Teller first began performing at fraternity parties in his college days, he discovered that if he didn't speak, the frat boys would set down their cups of beer, remove their hands from their girlfriends' breasts, and pay attention to what he was doing.

What does Teller's voice sound like?
Teller has a pleasant tenor voice with a Philadelphia accent. He is an eloquent and enthusiastic speaker.

Has Teller ever spoken during a Penn & Teller performance?
If you listen carefully, you can hear Teller speak during many parts of the Penn & Teller show. He does the voice for Mofo the Psychic Gorilla as well as the singing for Houdini's ghost in the Seance. Teller also speaks throughout his Salute to Recycling. From time to time, Teller has been known to speak out during TV performances, usually yelling something that must be bleeped out by the censors. During the run Sincity Spectacular, Teller spoke and sang in many of the bits.

The Early Days

When did P&T; meet?
Penn and Teller were introduced to each other by a mutual friend, Weir Chrisimer, on April 10, 1974.

What did P&T; do before they started working together?
Penn worked as a juggler on the New Jersey boardwalk and attended Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Clown College.
taught high school Latin in Lawrenceville, NJ.

What educational background do P&T; have?
Penn graduated from Greenfield High School in 1973. Teller graduated from Amherst College in 1969 after studying Classics.
Both Penn and Teller are visiting scholars at MIT.

What was the guys' original act like?
Penn, Teller, and Weir Chrisimer teamed up to form the Othmar Schoeck Memorial Society for the Preservation of Unusual and Disgusting Music which later became the Aparagus Valley Cultural Society. The AVCS shows contained many of the same bits (in slightly different versions) as the current P&T; show, including Teller's East Indian Needle Mystery, Shadows, Fire-eating, Juggling, and Suspension. The show also contained music, with Penn on bass, Teller on keyboard and slide-whistle, and Weir on accordian.

When did P&T; form their own show?
Penn and Teller became Penn & Teller in 1981.


Penn & Teller Show Stuff

Why do P&T; wear gray business suits?
P&T; wanted to have a costume that would be unobtrusive and similar to the attire of their audience members.

Who makes Penn & Teller's suits?
Their original matching gray suits were made in the mid 1980's by a tailor named Vincent. In the early 90's, P&T; switched to suits made by Canali. Since 1998, they have worn Zegna suits.

Why do P&T; use the 3-of-clubs so often in card tricks?
P&T;'s main reason for using the 3-of-clubs is that it is a card that can be easily seen on TV cameras.

P&T; use a lot of bugs in their act. Are there any insects that bother them?
From Teller: "Leeches were the worst animal I ever hope to work with. Slimy bloodsucking slugs."
From Penn: "I don't think I'd like to do the bees again."

How do P&T; come up with the ideas for their tricks?
From Teller: "Our 'process' comes down to two men sitting in a room trying to imagine good stuff. Ideas move from discussion to stage in anywhere from two weeks to six months. Some ideas take way longer (we get them, don't know how to complete them, then suddenly a second idea solves the problem)"


Personal Stuff

Where do P&T; live?
Both guys live in Las Vegas, NV. Penn's house is called "The Slammer" and Teller's is tentatively named "Saurus".

Why did P&T; choose to move from NY to Las Vegas?
From Penn: "It was mostly Teller's idea to move to Vegas, but I love it. We're on the road half the year anyway, it's really cheap, and it has a good airport. It's also nutty. It's like living on the moon."
From Teller: "Vegas is diabolically convenient. A center of live entertainment where we can come home and sleep in our own beds at night. Nice weather. No city or state income tax. Cheaper to run a show here than NY by a lot. I miss having the latest, hottest movies always at our elbow, but that's easy to fix in LA. And I simply love the desert light."

Is either of the guys married? Do they have any children?
No, neither Penn nor Teller is married. They do not have any children.

Do P&T; have tattoos?
They do not have any permanent tattoos (at least none that they will admit to). Penn has had several "Tattoos of Blood." (See their third book, How to Play in Traffic for more detail).

What movies do they like?
Penn likes Double Indemnity, South Park, and Dawn of the Dead to name a few. Teller likes Hitchcock films, Psycho and Rear Window in particular.

How do P&T; feel about religion and skepticism?
This is a HUGE subject, and is very difficult to answer concisely. Both Penn and Teller are outspoken atheists and skeptics. They are great admirers of James (The Amazing) Randi and his attitudes toward paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.
Penn has suggested that fans read this article about science and religion.

What movies have Penn and Teller appeared in?
Partial filmographies for Penn and Teller can be found in the Internet Movie Database Check here for a fan's listing of P&T;'s movie appearances.


Web Info

What is the Jungle?
The Jungle is a private BBS for P&T; and their close friends. Membership is by invitation only.

Is there a newsgroup devoted to P&T;?
The newsgroup is called

Are there other P&T; discussion groups?
The Penn and Teller bulletin board is a web-based forum.
The Mofo Tightcircle is an email-based discussion list

Are there any P&T; chat rooms?
For live chat check out #Mofo on IRC.

Can I send an email message to P&T;?
You can write to P&T; at

Wat is a Pen Telar?
This question, asked most often by people from Singapore who visit the #Mofo chat channel, will result in unrestrained laughter from #Mofo regulars.


P&T; FAQ by Anne Ferrel AKA Nita, last updated March 27, 2003.


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