Teller explains the psychology of illusions

HappySmurfday sez, "Without the assistance of Penn Jillette, Teller explains some of the psychology behind illusions."

Teller Speaks! (Thanks, HappySmurfday!)


  1. Interesting. I’ve heard Teller speak before but not to the extent of this. After watching this I kind of wish Penn played the silent shtick.

    When I was 12 I vividly recall this stunt they did on TV.

    I was amazed at the reveal. It didn’t inspire me to be an illusionist, but I gained a whole lot more respect for these two than say, David Copperfield.

  2. aaaaaaaAAAAAAAHHHHH I hate it when he talks!!!!!!!!!!

    (I know, what did you expect when you play the video ‘Teller Speaks!’).

  3. For more information on this topic, read the book Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions by Stephen L. Macknik, Susana Martinez-Conde and Sandra Blakeslee. The book’s web site has additional videos. The Apollo Robbins pickpocketing video has great audio and is fun to watch.

  4. I know of at least 2 other segments where Teller speaks. One is from a 3-part miniseries where Penn and Teller went to China, India, and Egypt to show some of the origins of magic. I don’t remember if it aired or was just a cut scene on the DVD, but Teller talks about an Egyptian magician showing him a trick that fooled him.

    There’s also a documentary called Grand Illusions: The Story of Magic in which he speaks about the history of magic along with a lot of others.

  5. I don’t know what the other commenters are talking about. I love listening to Teller whenever he speaks. It’s so rare when he does so. Perhaps because of that, it makes it so that whenever he does speak, he does so to impart some wisdom from his massive amount of experience and to relate some amazing observations about the nature of magic.

    I found the video fascinating. Thanks for posting it.

  6. Penn’s speaking for Teller was a brilliant idea but has reached its limits, oder? Penn Jillette grows and improves over time but, based on P&T’s recent Seattle show, remains 90% great and +/- 10% 1960’s-era it’s-us-against-the-bints(/our dads).*

    I heard Teller studied Latin. That’s beautiful.

    * I can’t forget how at that performance they asked for a volunteer from the audience, picked a girl who was pulling her little black dress up and down anyway, made her climb onto a board with her head hanging off and her boobs in Penn’s face. Whereupon, he played with her hair for ten minutes while chatting to the audience.

  7. #13 Yeah, he does – it’s completely heartbreaking too. :( It’s an odd film but I love it. :D

    #14 As I understand it, Teller always had a silent act. He found it was the best way to get people’s attention, especially when performing on the street or at noisy parties. He used to sit down and put needles in an apple, silently, with a sign in front of him that said ‘When all of the needles are in the apple, magic will happen’. (This kind:

    Also not only did he study Latin, he taught it, and by all accounts he was an amazing teacher.

    I <3 Teller. :)

  8. I could be mistaken, but I’ve seen P&T shows where Teller speaks, but he’s offstage doing narration while Penn performs a solo trick. Doesn’t he sing, too?

  9. This is one of the best Teller vids IMO. I think with his knowledge of magic, and intellect, he sometimes gets a bit jaded with ‘underling’ magicians trying to impress him. His reaction to this Egyptian’s trick is wonderful:

    1. Well… Check out Teller’s expressions in the Fool Us series, it is truly delightful to watch him react to the magicians. Jaded is definitely not what he seems to be, quite the opposite.

  10. Haterz gon hate. But if you take the time to listen closely, you’ll hear a bunch of money quotes in that clip. It’s stuff to live by.

  11. Such as, “Every time you think you know what is happening, I’m changing the method.”

    (Seem familiar?)

  12. Wait, what? Why would anyone post a video of Teller speaking?

    The interwebs have killed a little part of me today.

    I think I’ll watch it twice.

  13. Guess I will have to watch it when I get home from work. No details on the contents of the video in the comments.

    1. To pick the ball up with one hand, in order to plant that the ball is supposed to BE in that hand. Then when he palms the ball in the other hand, your mind thinks it should be in the hand he picked it up with. Since this is a demo, he did it twice. On stage, it would be once.

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