Penn & Teller's Invisible Thread: lost comedy magic special resurfaces on YouTube

A long-lost Penn and Teller special, "Penn & Teller's Invisible Thread," has resurfaced on YouTube in four parts. Get it while you can! P&T are hustling magicians who find themselves embroiled in a shadowy mystery when the men in black call them in for a consultation. There's magic Marx-Bros-esque shenanigans, grifter humor, and bad eighties hair. It's some vintage funny conspiracy theory stuff -- look for guest appearances from James Randi, Whodini, and Andy Warhol! Man, I want this on DVD.

Penn & Teller's Invisible Thread (Thanks, Tom!)


  1. I remember seeing this on HBO or whatever. Note special guest appearance by two members of the Residents as well as Lydia Lunch (I think).

  2. You don’t want it on DVD, because DVDs are DRM’d and region-locked and you’ve spent years complaining about both things, remember?

  3. Now if only someone would post P&T’s Sin City Spectacular, their Vegas variety show that was on FX in the late nineties.

    I’ve wanted to see that show for YEARS but there have been no releases, either legitimate or bit-torrential.

    1. Sin City Spectacular was also posted on usenet in recent years. It’s probably around somewhere. Bit-torrent is not all there is, you know.

  4. Lost? I’m not at home to check right now, but I’m pretty sure I downloaded a copy from usenet 4 or 5 years ago.

  5. What’s always stuck in my mind over the years about this episode is a part where, challenged to justify the human race’s right to exist, Penn puts forth (if I remember correctly) Elvis Presley, the Velvet Underground and Vincent van Gogh (pretty much what I would’ve said, although I might’ve also mentioned Doris Lessing or Patti Smith), to which the aliens reply that the achievements of remarkable individuals do not justify the whole species’ overall existence…it’s maybe a ten second exchange, but quite thought-provoking.

  6. “I didn’t say ‘sound as art’, I said The Velvet Underground. You got any farting, squawking trashbags that can play ‘White Light White Heat’, huh?”

    Awesome. I only saw small bits from the movie, so this is a great bit of archaeology.
    (And yes, I’d be very happy if a higher quality version surfaced on the net somehow.)

  7. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with P&T (being a bored, nerdy kid from Greenfield, I made a hero out of Penn, who made it out of Greenfield) to the point of trying to get my parents to get cable so we could watch this. So I eventually, obsessively read the script out of the weird psychedelic false pages in Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends. Seeing it now is odd…I’ve never seen it, but I know it by heart. Thanks western massachssian boredom.

  8. Wow, this was one of the highlights of my childhood! I must have watched this on Showtime at least 20 times. I’m sure I’ve still got the videotape around somewhere, but whenever they re-broadcast it, I would stop whatever I was doing and study that show. Great stuff!

  9. There was a short period when I tried to descramble cable as a kid using an tweaked analogue tuner. This was one of the first shows that emerged from the static, desaturated as it was. I remember it fondly and the show that followed, Pen and Teller explain MST3k. All I had seen of Pen and Teller were run runs of SNL. Being a kid, engrossed in SciFi, raised on the Outer Limits and Twilight Zone, MaxHeadroom and reruns of Tom Baker as Dr. Who on a hazy UHF channel. When I saw this show it was magic, truly. It got the heart of a good story and the truth about magic and paranatural phenomena ( which I was a fan of because of In Search Of). Oddly, the show clicked because of it’s message. A little critical thinking can go a long way to saving the Earth, and likely that thought won’t be done by Earthlings.

  10. Been waiting 20 years to catch this one. Like other readers saw scripts in Cruel Tricks but never the film. A friend had taped it off cable but could never find the vhs..

  11. Another coincidence!

    I was reading this just last week, in Cruel tricks for Dear Friends.

    Had a lot of coincidences lately. Like, after watching avatar, I went on a plane trip, and the only unread book in the house was Poul Anderson’s ’78 novel “The Avatar”. And lo, on page 300, there was a jungle planet called Pandora, where blueskinned bipedal natives fired primitive arrows at the heroes.

    Coincidences are a kind of magic.

  12. Hey I remember seeing this on TV but I’ve never had the premium channels so I have no idea what station it was on. But I do remember it.

  13. …there’s forty minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

    I suppose the upside is that this proves Penn and Teller have come a long way over the years.

  14. AWESOME. I’m the one who uploaded these videos btw, i downloaded it from a torrent, and I’ll probably eventually be uploading more Penn & Teller vids, I just wish we could find the Sin City Spectacular…


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