Michael James: “Penn and Teller: Fool Us” – Fooled Us

Penn and Teller: Fool Us

A couple of notes from my recent Vegas trip…

The Matrix – Revisited

I was stunned by the amount of feedback on last week’s article “The Trip Planning Matrix Returns”. Some of you had mentioned or implied that by having the entire vacation locked down that there would not be the flexibility to improvise. However, that wasn’t the case.

Because Mr. Vegas Bright was actually in Las Vegas the prior week, the deadline for my article was a week before it was published. In that ensuing week, we made a change in plans. Many a Vegas website and even a Caesars E-mail mentioned that Penn and Teller Fool Us was taping their TV shows in mid-April, and my wife and I decided to attend a taping. By reviewing The Matrix to see what was already ticketed, we saw that we could re-arrange the first day and include the taping on the afternoon of our arrival (more on that experience below).

For various reasons, we also did not get to the Shark Reef (we decided to go to tour an examination room at an urgent care facility Sunday morning instead) and we also skipped the Mob Museum, despite having tickets (too much walking for the non-me urgent care guest of honor). Finally, we didn’t get to either the Peppermill Fireside Lounge or Rum Runners for evening drinks because, frankly, we’re old and the days seem a lot longer than they did ten years ago.

But getting back to the comments from last week’s article, it is good to see that I am not alone in trip planning and hope that The Matrix can give ideas to others. The Matrix will be put to use again soon, as I am scheduled to bowl the men’s national tournament in Las Vegas on April 30 and May 1, 2017.

“Penn and Teller: Fool Us” – Fooled Us

I first learned of the Fool Us taping in a tweet by Marc Meltzer two days before we left. I discussed with the wife and we jumped at the chance to receive tickets. The tickets had certain nuggets of information…

  • Arrival at 1:00 PM
  • Expect to be there for four hours after arrival
  • Wear nice clothes
  • Arrival at 1:00 PM (didja catch that one?)

Figuring that it was “first come, first served,” I had the clever idea to arrive around 12:30 PM. That would get us near the front of the line while all the others were getting in those last hands of blackjack. Unfortunately, only about a thousand others had the same idea as I did… they just got there earlier.

With no signage and only directions to the Penn and Teller Theater from the valet, we headed down that long hallway past Guy Fieri’s new place and to the Hash House A Go-Go when we saw people standing along a wall in a line that looked like it would never end. Those people had pieces of paper that didn’t look like tickets, so I made the correct decision to keep on down the hallway. Eventually, the line of about 100 people was stopped dead in the hallway.

Penn and Teller: Fool Us

Getting into the Penn and Teller Theater for the taping of Fool Us was a string of guesses, starting from “Which line?” through “Anyone know what’s going on?” and ending with “We’ve made it this far”.

This was the line to turn in our tickets, and when we got to the front, the lady told us to continue down the hallway and stand in the line on the left. As we walked, I wasn’t sure if it was the left side as you walk down the hallway or the left side as you turn to look in the direction of the theater. So when we finally got to the end of the line (past the UPS Store, for those that know the layout), we chose the shorter of the two lines.

And we stood – without moving a step – for seventy minutes. More than once, my wife and I would give each other glances, wondering if we should bail. This was valuable Vegas time we were wasting just standing in a hallway with no end in sight.

Another frustrating thing was that there was nobody to communicate what was going on. We were just standing in one of two very long lines and looking at our watches. Finally, the other of the two lines started moving, which we watched for at least another 10 minutes more before our line moved.

And when we got to the theater? Right. The upper balcony… Section 7, to be exact. We were so far away that we could only tell Alyson Hannigan from Penn or Teller because she was wearing a dress. I was a little upset because I wanted to get a close-up of her because of this one time, at band camp

But the frustration didn’t end there. Though we were a zillion feet away from the stage, we knew that we were not there for our entertainment, but to produce a show that works on TV. That apparently meant keeping the sound very low (which makes sense as I can’t imagine an echo makes for good TV). But the sound was so low that it was hard to hear anything.

The magicians did a good job on the stage, projecting to the crowd, so it wasn’t too hard to hear them. But when Penn was describing the outcome of the act, he stayed seated in his chair facing the stage, and we could barely make anything out. I think my wife was ready to go after one act, but I knew that Penn and Teller do a magic act at the end, so I convinced her to stay. And even then, their act was not the greatest I have seen.

So Penn and Teller fooled us. Their prize is to continue their act at the Rio. But Caveat Emptor is in play… you get what you pay for, so buyer beware. We stood in line for well over one hour and could barely see and hear the show. Clearly getting there much earlier would have netted a better seat, but is that really a good use of Vegas time?

[Images: Michael James]

About the Author

Michael James
Michael James is a true Vegas Nerd. First falling in love after hearing details of an aunt's visit in the '70s, and nurtured when the gambling bug hit as casinos started opening on every street corner across the country in the '90s. When not reading Vegas blogs and message boards, he's a metals buyer by day and a competitive bowler by night in Milwaukee.

3 Comments on "Michael James: “Penn and Teller: Fool Us” – Fooled Us"

  1. LovesLasVegas80 | April 17, 2016 at 10:26 pm |

    This reminds me of when my husband and I saw a taping of Let’s Make a Deal with Wayne Brady at the Tropicana in 2010. We thought it would be an hour maybe two but it took 5 to 6 hours with no food or water. Cool to see a game show but we could have used our precious Vegas time better. Needless to say we won’t attend anything intended for TV.

  2. I went with some friends to see a taping last spring and you have hit the nail on the horribly boring and unorganized head.

    AWFUL experience. I’ve seen P&T’s normal stage show several times and it’s been great, but dear god, that TV taping was horrendous. One of our friends is an insomniac that hadn’t slept in days, but was out cold throughout the whole taping. He was even on TV in a few crowd shots sleeping if you knew where to look.

    6 hours to see6 acts each do one trick… and some not very well. Rough.

  3. shell scott | April 21, 2016 at 6:01 pm |

    TV tapings are always terrible for the audience. It’s the nature of the beast. But there’s no real way to warn people ahead of time.

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