Welcome to the wild & wacky world of Penn & Teller

Jan 8, 2001 9:50 PM

The dynamic duo of Penn & Teller bring their madcap world of magic, comedy and philosophical wit to the Samba Theater at the Rio, now through Jan. 14.

"We’ve been doing magic together for 25 years, and are so sick of it we could spit," said Penn Jillette. "So, in the new show, we are moving into the field of religion and will be performing real miracles."

Obviously, Penn & Teller are a couple of eccentric performers who have learned how to do a few entertaining things. Together since 1975, their award-winning theater show has been a long-running hit on and off Broadway. In addition to TV specials, the duo keeps a busy touring schedule, performing live more than 100 times this year alone.

After playing small clubs, theaters and the Renaissance Fair circuit, Penn & Teller’s off-beat brand of magic and comedy gained national attention when their stage show opened off-Broadway in 1985, leading to appearances on "Late Night With David Letterman," "Saturday Night Live" and "Miami Vice." In 1987, their stage show moved to Broadway for the first of two successful runs.

Besides ranking among the favorite guests of all the late-night talk shows, Penn & Teller are also frequent guests on popular TV series, having appeared as Drell and Skippy in the ABC hit series, "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch"; as attorneys Fenn & Geller on "The Drew Carey Show"; as well as appearances on "Friends," "Dharma & Greg," "Babylon 5," "Home Improvement" and "The Simpsons."

The pair also won two Emmy awards for their PBS special, "Penn & Teller Go Public," and they received an Emmy nomination for their series, "Penn & Teller’s Sin City Spectacular."

Other TV projects include ABC’s "Penn & Teller’s Home Invasion," the Showtime movie, "Penn & Teller’s Invisible Thread," the NBC special, "Don’t Try This At Home" and the PBS children’s series, "Behind the Scenes" and "The Unpleasant World of Penn & Teller."

Outside the realm of entertainment, the duo serve as Visiting Scholars at MIT, and have lectured at the stately Smithsonian Institute and academic Oxford University.

Tickets for Penn & Teller in are $45. 

Rosanne ”˜alter ego’ stars in Legends of Comedy

Tina Peeples says she is nothing like Rosanne. Born down South and raised in the Midwest, Peeples’ background is that of a country, blues and gospel singer. But when she takes the stage nightly in Legends of Comedy at the New Frontier Hotel & Casino, Peeples loses all her inhibitions and literally becomes Roseanne.

It was an ironic twist which led to Peeples’ impersonation of Roseanne. While working at American Costumes, another of ”˜Legends of Comedy’ cast member, Bill Sacra (Rodney Dangerfield), walked into the shop and did a double take. Sacra told Peeples that he liked the way she laughed and that she could do Roseanne. He said to put together a tape of her doing Roseanne to show Legends of Comedy creator Bill Kirchenbauer.

"At first I thought about it and said ”˜no’," she said. "I didn’t think I was the Roseanne type at all. I was doing Wynonna (Judd) and other classic Hollywood stars for American Singing Telegram and barely gave it a second thought."

Kirchenbauer, a stand-up comedian himself, worked with Peeples on her timing and rhythm of jokes and it wasn’t long before she became a member of the show.

Legends of Comedy plays twice nightly at 7 and 10:30 p.m., dark Tuesday.