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OCTOBER 31

A Penn & Teller secret revealed: Teller has a lovely voice! Smooth and sonorous as an NPR announcer, which he sometimes is, the professional mute actually sounds like a young, less-cranky Jack Parr. And he uses his elocutionary gift to tell wonderfully droll anecdotes, none of which I shall reveal, but some of which may be read in the pair’s new book, Penn & Teller’s How to Play in Traffic. Teller and his more-than-loquacious partner single-handedly rescued the magic show from being sawed in half by its own cheesy hypocrisy. They did so by giving away the tricks, yet they still amaze, confound, and delight. Says Penn, “We had a chance early in our career to be a magic act, and to do much better, much earlier. And we just couldn’t stomach being a magic act. We were going for something very, very different.” Their current definition of difference involves, in part, “a wooden chair, five pieces of rope, a staple gun, two audience members, a cloth booth, a spirit from the dead who declares it’s a fake, Houdini, an electric bass guitar, a Yamaha Disclavier, and a whole lot of music and singing.” And, says Teller, “It ends up making sense.” That’s the other Penn & Teller difference: They base their spectacle on ideas, not machines. Watch Penn juggle broken bottles. See Teller catch a bullet. Or not. That’s the magic. Says Penn, “The day we’re not working on Halloween is the day we’re out of show business.” Penn & Teller sign books at noon at Super Crown, 11 Dupont Circle NW. FREE. (202) 319-1374; and perform at 8 p.m. at George Mason University’s Patriot Center, 4400 University Dr., Fairfax. $27.50-35. (703) 993-3000. (Dave Nuttycombe)