I realised, sitting in the fourth row of the Hammersmith Apollo on Friday night, that I’m basically the ideal Penn & Teller audience member.
I’m predisposed to like them and enjoy their company a great deal, which helps, but that’s not what I’m getting at. I mean in my approach to watching the magic they do – and I suspect I’m far from alone here – I have what must be close to the perfect attitude to maximise my admiration of their performance.
What I mean is: I’m just smart enough to be really stupid.
Or, I’m just stupid enough to think I’m being smart.
I have just enough superficial, surface-level understanding of magic, and deception, and of Penn & Teller’s usual way of doing things, that I briefly delude myself that I can watch out for the clever tricks, the subtle palms and whatnot they must be doing to make something appear where it wasn’t. I think I know misdirection when I see it, so I peer carefully at the other hand and keep my eagle eyes peeled for any tiny hints of subterfuge.
In other words, I am precisely the right kind of idiot. I think I’m watching out for the right things and will have some idea where they’re going and what they’re about to pull. And they still fool me and produce some grand last-minute flourish out of nowhere, that I could never see coming even after it’s happened. Every. Damn. Time.
And obviously they’re going to fool me every damn time. They’ve been doing this for decades, and what the fuck do I know?
It’s a wonderful performance, and I can’t really think of anyone for whom I wouldn’t recommend it. You may have missed your chance in London this time (though, as I type this, there are still tickets available for tonight’s final show (and there was at least one tout outside the theatre when I went)), but if you ever find yourselves in the same city as them when they’re performing in future, go.
If you like magic, go. If you like comedy, go. If you like entertainment, go. If you like joy, go. Just go.