On Creating Magic.

On Creating Magic.

Raymond Joseph Teller is an American magician, writer, actor and film director. He is half of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller, along with Penn Jillette, where he usually does not speak during performances.

Jillette shared the story at an event where we were both speaking on stage to a large group of entrepreneurs that Teller started out in stand up comedy being relentlessly heckled by the audience. His routine was part comedy, part street act and he was so shy and nervous about being heckled by rude audience members who would throw beer at him that he eventually switched to doing all sideshow, sleight-of-hand and magic tricks without saying a word during his performances.

Penn and Teller have been performing together for over 40 years. Their act continues on Broadway, in theaters across America and on their very own stage in Las Vegas. Their Showtime series, Penn & Teller: BS!, was the network’s longest-running series and was nominated for 16 Emmy awards. Their current show on The CW, Penn & Teller: Fool Us, has launched the careers of many new magicians. They’ve earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and have played their animated selves twice on The Simpsons.

When asked how they’ve sustained such an illustrious career in what started as a street act, hustling for loose change and dollar bills on city sidewalks before the cops would disperse the crowd, and now achieving their level of fame, something that almost seems magical, Teller said this:

“Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.”

What a lovely answer. I’ve seen so many different versions of this answer from highly productive individuals with long-standing success stories that it’s a huge pearl hidden in plain sight. In comedy, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld and Judd Apatow share similar stories of practice, practice, practice. From sports, to politics, business and leadership, magic is often created by someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.

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Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.