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Teller's Silence: Does Teller Talk?

Updated: Jun 5

Does Teller Talk? Why does he remain silent? Is he the only magician not to speak onstage?


Magician Teller, the silent half of Penn & Teller sitting on thrown-like chair with cards flying all around him
Magician Teller (Raymond Joseph Teller) of magician duo, Penn & Teller

Why Does Teller Remain Silent


Few artists have left their mark as profoundly as Penn & Teller in the vibrant and ever-evolving world of magic.


For decades, this duo and host of Penn & Teller Fool Us has enchanted audiences with their quirky tricks and unique style. Teller, the 'silent' half of the Las Vegas magician duo, is particularly fascinating.


Many have wondered whether Teller speaks or if his silence is a lifelong vow.


Today, we will unravel this enigma.


 

Does Teller Speak?


If you’re intrigued by the silent magician who forms one-half of the globally acclaimed duo Penn & Teller, you’re not alone!


Despite the silence, the Las Vegas duo is known for their outspoken, edgy, and often controversial style.


Can Teller talk? Yes, Teller does talk. In real life, Teller speaks but chooses to work silently only in the act. The magician duo utilize silence (referred to as "selective mutism" or "voluntary silence") to create a distinctive contrast between performers.


But there’s more to the story, so read on!

 

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II. Who is Teller?


Teller (born Raymond Joseph Teller) is an American magician who was born in Pennsylvania and has been a prominent figure in magic since the late 20th century.


Teller was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His dad, Joseph, was from a Russian-Jewish family, and his mom, Irene, was from a Delaware farming family. They met in art school. Teller’s mom was Methodist, and he grew up sort of Methodist, too.


Drunken Kids


Teller graduated from Central High School in 1965. He then attended Amherst College and graduated with a degree in Classics in 1969. After college, he became a high-school Latin teacher.


Teller started doing magic while playing fraternity parties.


"I am a small man with a not particularly strong voice. If I had tried to talk over a room full of drunken kids drinking beer, they wouldn't have paid any attention to me. But with the spotlights and swallowing razorblades, they watched me and stopped heckling."

He noticed the drunken kids drinking beer paid attention when he wasn't speaking.


"When I was playing fraternity parties at Amherst College, I found that if I used a few lawn spotlights and put them on me, and did creepy things like swallowing razor blades, the kids paid attention to me."

Teller started performing with his friend Weir Chrisemer in a group with a funny name about unusual music.


He met Penn Jillette in 1974, and they, with Chrisemer, formed a group called Asparagus Valley Cultural Society. They performed at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and later in San Francisco.


In 1981, Penn and Teller started performing together as Penn & Teller, and they are still performing today.


Imposing Proportions


Together with his larger companion, Penn Jillette, he forms the dynamic duo known as Penn & Teller, which is recognized globally for its innovative performances.


Teller’s persona is that of the smaller, silent partner in the act, contributing to their distinctive brand.


The intrigue surrounding his silence enhances the duo’s overall mystique. Silence plays a crucial role in the execution of a magic trick, as it adds to the misdirection and illusion.


 

III. Understanding the Silence


Teller's on-stage silence is more than a quirk; it's a deliberate strategy emphasizing non-verbal communication's power in their performances.


By being silent, Teller compels the audience to focus on his precise and subtle movements, increasing the impact of their illusions.


Watch this classic Penn & Teller magic routine performed on Saturday Night Live:


 

IV. Behind the Scenes: Teller off-stage


The world outside the stage paints a different picture of Teller.


Despite his mute persona during performances, Teller is quite articulate and communicative off-stage. From engaging interviews to insightful lectures, Teller indeed does speak.


He has even lent his voice to various animated characters, further proving his eloquence.


Here is Teller's voiceover work for TV and Videogames:


  • The Simpsons (TV Show) - Teller voiced himself

  • Scooby-Doo and Guess Who (TV Show) - He voiced himself as Teller

  • Oh Yeah! Cartoons (TV Show) - Teller voiced the characters Jake Clones and Delivery Man Clones

  • Borderland 3 (Videogame) - Teller voiced the characters Terror and Ramsden

 

V. Does Teller Talk?


The straightforward answer is yes, Teller does talk. His silence is primarily confined to his onstage persona and not an overarching lifestyle.


Teller is as vocal as anyone offstage, contributing significantly to discussions on magic, creativity, and education.


WATCH: Teller Explains Why He Remains Silent On Stage


 

VI. The Impact of Teller's Silence


Teller's silence has not only defined his career but also transformed the landscape of performance magic.


His unique style has inspired a new generation of magicians and changed audience expectations. It's a testament to the power of non-verbal communication in connecting with audiences and creating memorable experiences.


Want to witness this magic yourself? Check out our detailed "Penn and Teller: Fool Us Episode Guide" and immerse yourself in their spellbinding performances.


 

VII. Frequently Asked Questions


Q1: Do Penn & Teller get along?

Yes, Penn & Teller share a great rapport, both on and off the stage.


Their dynamic partnership has thrived for over 40 years, a testament to their mutual respect and shared passion for magic. Their differing personalities - Penn's loud, larger-than-life character and Teller's quiet, contemplative demeanor - balance perfectly, contributing to their successful collaboration.


Q2: How old is Teller?

Teller was born on February 14, 1948. As of June 2024, he is 76 years old.


Q3: Why doesn't Teller from Penn & Teller speak?

Teller's silence is a strategic decision to make their magic acts more compelling. By not speaking, Teller commands the audience's attention to his actions, enhancing the impact of their illusions.


This also creates a unique stage character, adding to the mystique of their performances.


Q4: How did Penn & Teller meet?

Penn Jillette and Teller met in the early 1970s.


They were introduced by a mutual friend, Weir Chrisemer, and soon formed a three-person act known as "The Asparagus Valley Cultural Society," which performed in Philadelphia and San Francisco.


Eventually, the trio split and Penn & Teller continued as a duo, making their off-Broadway debut in 1985.


Q5: Has Teller from Penn & Teller ever spoken?

Yes, Teller has spoken, though typically not during performances.


Offstage, Teller is as articulate as anyone, contributing to discussions, giving interviews, and even performing voice-over work.


His silent stage character is a creative choice, enhancing the duo's magic act's mystique and allure.


 

VIII. Conclusion


So, does Teller speak? Absolutely.


But his silent on-stage persona is a testament to his creative genius, proving that words aren't always necessary to captivate an audience.


We invite you to explore the captivating world of Penn & Teller further, appreciating the duality of Teller's on-stage silence and off-stage voice.


To learn more about the television show where Penn & Teller shine, check out the "Penn & Teller Fool Us Guide" and learn about the new host on the "Penn and Teller: Fool Us Host."


It provides fascinating insights into the dynamic between the hosts and the duo, adding another layer to their enchanting performances.

 

That's It!


Don't be silent! If you enjoyed this article, hit the ♥️ below and share your comments.


Don't miss these articles from Magician Masterclass.


 

What To Read Next:


Ryan Joyce - Magician, Illusionist, Hypnotist & Speaker

​Ryan Joyce is a professional magician, entertainer, and speaker who has performed over 6000+ shows worldwide. Ryan is the Executive Director of the Ontario OWOW Magic Festival. He has appeared on Penn & Teller's Fool Us, Canada's Got Talent, and every Canadian national television network. He has over 10+ million views on YouTube, Facebook, and social media and is trusted by Fortune 500 companies to deliver world-class performance.


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