The Unpleasant World Of Penn And Teller – tape 1653

Over to Channel 4 for The Unpleasant World of Penn & Teller. Jonathan Ross’s production company snapped up the duo when they were virtually unknown over here, for a six episode series, which showcases some of their best illusions, and some new stuff too.

This episode features Stephen Fry losing a much loved watch.

My recording is missing a tiny bit after the ad break, annoyingly, where I paused for the adverts and didn’t restart quickly enough.

This broadcast is from January 7th 1994.

This tape is missing the next episode, which featured John Cleese.

Before the next episode there’s the end of an episode of Nurses.

The next episode has Penn juggling. He does juggling with broken bottles, a feat which has occasionally caused him to cut his hands quite badly.

Guest on this episode is Dawn French.

Dawn French with Penn & Teller

Penn also does his fire-eating act.

Penn Fire Eating

January 21st 1994.

Another snatch of the Nurses before the next episode, which features guest Fiona Fullerton, and teaches the whole audience how to do a trick with a fork, a milk portion, and your eye.

Fiona Fullerton

And in “King of Animal Traps” Teller does some trapeze work.

King of Animal Traps

Here’s the whole episode.

From January 28th 1994.

The next episode starts off with some science experiments, including one featuring their pet mouse Billary (named after our president).

Hillary the mouse

Guest on this show is Alexei Sayle.

Alexei Sayle

They do the world’s most expensive card trick, involving (allegedly) Teller using a computer vision system to identify the card missing from a pack, and transmit the name of the card to a large screen in Piccadilly Circus. The ‘MOFO Electronics’ here is a reference to an old bulletin board that they used to run. MOFO was a mind reading gorilla that used to appear in their act, and the BB was named after him. There’s still part of their website referencing MOFO that gives tour dates.

MOFO electronics

From February 4th 1994.

The final episode of the series features Christopher Reeve as the guest star. They aren’t allowed to do the bullet catch, so they do a ‘lima bean’ catch.

Lima Bean Catch

They do their famous cups and balls trick (with see through cups)

Cups and Balls

There’s a sawing Teller into halves trick.

Sawing Teller into halves

Then Penn & Teller meet Christopher Reeve and visit the Magic Circle. I still get sad watching Christopher Reeve.

Christopher Reeve and Penn and Teller

From 11th February 1994.

Finally on this tape is another Penn & Teller show, this time from the US, Don’t Try This At Home. They teach the entire audience how to do the ‘national magic trick’ – vanishing a hankerchief.

Then they do ‘Lift Off to Love’ – a cheesy illusion which they replay with see-through props.

Lift Off to Love

Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson is one of the guest stars.

Penn Teller and Victoria Jackson

There’s a fair amount of overlap between this special and the Channel 4 show, so we get the fire-eating seduction routine, and then ‘King of Animal Traps’.

Then, they do a routine where they produce thousands of bees.

The Bees The Bees

Another guest, Jane Curtin, also from Saturday Night Live, performs a cut and restored ribbon trick while the rest of the audience left the theatre to watch the big finale illusion. She also does ‘The Infected Ear’.

Jane Curtin

Then, the show’s big climax, where they drive a truck over Teller outside Radio City Music Hall.

Teller meets Truck

Here’s the whole show.

The recording stops right after this programme.


  • trail: The Big Breakfast
  • trail: The Time Team
  • Nescafe
  • Videos to Rent – Falling Down/Cliffhanger
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Take-off
  • Nescafe
  • trail: Graham Taylor – An Impossible Job
  • trail: Prospero’s Books
  •  Vauxhall Cavalier
  • Tombstone in cinemas
  • Batchelor’s
  • Allied Dunbar
  • Nurofen
  • trail: Raising Arizona/Superbowl
  • Kotex
  • Comfort
  • Janet Frazer
  • Twirl
  • Fisherman’s Friend
  • Renault Clio
  • trail: Home Improvement/Roseanne
  • trail: New Operas on Four – The Empress
  • Seat Ibiza
  • Thomson
  • Radio Times
  • Sunday Times
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Continental Airlines
  • Midland Bank
  • trail: Eurotrash

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