Cat with bear hat and mustache, a red-striped bowtie, is the only non-human in the show. He was named after the cartoon character "Mr. Magoo".
Magoo is the most popular character in the show's history. His catchphrase, "I see what you did there," is used by fans as an ironic reply to the show's catchphrases. The characters are named after magicians Penn and Teller. The first magician to name the character "Magoo" was Penn Jillette (as opposed to Teller, who was named by John Cameron Mitchell in honor of a character he created for the show, who is referred to only as "John"), after their appearance as Magoo and the Great Danton. Jillette is also the voice of Magoo.
The show is an "odditorial". The two men are the "treats". They host, direct and edit the show.
The show has three basic elements. First, there are stories of ordinary people caught in the grip of bizarre or magical events. Second, the pair present humorous commentary on the stories in a manner reminiscent of the British satirical comedy television show Yes, Minister. Third, the pair often end each segment with a segment of magic tricks or comedy routines. They call these segments "magical moments".
A typical episode lasts between 90 and 120 minutes and is made up of between eight and ten stories, including a few guest stars. The show is broadcast live, but is prerecorded and edited into the program in the last few minutes. Most episodes are hosted by Jillette. Occasionally, however, he has guests, and occasionally Teller also hosts.
The first episode was broadcast in January 1999. The series' fourth episode (broadcast on 3 December 2007) was watched by 3.6 million viewers, a record for cable and cable-affiliated channels (though it was a rerun from a previous episode). Since the premiere, ratings have been consistently higher than for the American version of Penn &, Teller: Mind Over Magic. It is believed to be the highest-rated program on GSN.
The show has been criticized for relying heavily on Penn and Teller, for having a "safe" format, and for not taking its premise seriously. Its lack of intellectual content is due partly to the nature of GSN, a channel where entertainment programs are the rule.
Penn Jillette – Host
Penny Toler – Host (later left to work in other GSN shows)
Penn and Teller have had guests from the beginning. In the first episode, they had Paul F. Tompkins as their "special guest magician". After the first episode, Tompkins was replaced by the cast of MADtv for the first five episodes. He has made guest appearances in every episode since then, and appeared on more than 100 episodes. In the first few years, the show had a regular roster of actors and magicians who appeared as part of the show. The list of guest stars since the beginning includes:
The show's format is very close to that of Penn &, Teller: The Penn &, Teller Hour, and it was intended to be a successor to that show, in the same way that Penn &, Teller's other projects are extensions of their earlier work.
Season 1 (1999–2000)
Season 2 (2000–2001)
Season 3 (2001–2002)
Season 4 (2002–2003)
Season 5 (2003–2004)
Season 6 (2004–2005)
Season 7 (2005–2006)
Season 8 (2006–2007)
Season 9 (2007–2008)
Season 10 (2008–2009)
Season 11 (2009–2010)
Season 12 (2010–2011)
Season 13 (2011–2012)
Season 14 (2012–2013)
Season 15 (2013–2014)
Season 16 (2014–2015)
Season 17 (2015–2016)
Season 18 (2016–2017)
Season 19 (2017–2018)
Season 20 (2018–2019)
Season 21 (2019–2020)
Category:American comedy television series
Category:2000s American television series
Category:2010s American television series
Category:1999 American television series debuts
Category:Cable television programs
Category:English-language television programs
Category:Gulfstream (TV channel) original programming
Category:NBC original programming