Penn & Teller Fool Us 30th July 2011

For reasons mentioned below I missed the Fool Us show last night BUT saw it tonight… all hail ITV player!

So here’s this weeks thoughts for what they are worth…

Penn & Teller Fool Us 30th July 2011

I thought I’d make a quick point for launching in to this weeks ‘blog….

It may not be apparent, but I write my comments in ‘real time’ as I watch the show. So sometimes I pre-empt things that are said on the show, at other times I’m way off the mark.

I just feel my immediate response is the one I want to share on these pages…


Jonathan Ross  is “Mr Magic” according the voice over announcement at the start of the show! How the hell does that work?

Ah well to the acts…

Shaun Farquhar from British Columbia

A World Champion of Card Magic…

OK – great trick – how the hell – I missed the bit that must have happened yet know where it should have happened BUT the card in the sealed deck with no immediate evidence for break in seal – it’s real magic!

I loved Penn’s reaction  and Teller’s reaction especially with Penn so up close and personal. Great style and approach; I liked the guy before he did anything because of his calm, confident attitude.

Manuel Martinez

Nice characterisation and comic approach with a very commercial effect – also one I was thinking of doing this summer at Lands End … there are numerous methods so I’m sure Penn & Teller would have sussed it.

Nice one Gary …

Etienne Pradier

Some nice moves – one accidentally (?) flashed so confusing the ‘moment’ of the key effect?

I was also a little bothered by the amount of ‘stuff’ on the table – clutter or having utility?

The signed card in bottle was very nice as was the identification of Penn’s selected card – fooled me.

Chris Dugdale

An ‘original idea’ was the pre-filmed claim!

OK as he started I thought “Becker” (some of you will know what I mean) the discovery of the destination was, for me, the strongest effect and so the routine lacked a bit of the punch – the reaction of the spectator to the Malaysia ‘reveal’ was ‘odd’ however

Ahh – now I know why?

BUT I didn’t get that it was Chris ….

Very nice and of course explains the Malaysia bit.

The make-up effect was good and, yes, the on-stage movie style ‘transformation’ was very effective.

The Penn & Teller bit ….

The ‘Houdini Needle’ trick – Teller does this superbly and although I’ve seen him do this several times, each time is as effective as the last.

Great pantomime skills and superb handling of a classic effect turned into a miracle in Tellers hands (or mouth!)

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Just a quick note …

This week has been a bit of a crazy one for me. The first Lands End gig of the season saw the new ‘illusion’ based act that I was asked to put together for the venue.

It’s a 45 minute piece containing, amongst other things a ‘Cube Zag’ illusion.

Ok OK , so what is a mentalist doing performing illusions?

Well you must remember that my business card say’s ‘Enigmatist’ and whilst I am mostly a purveyor of mental enigmas I do like to extend myself.

For the first public outing of this new show there were the inevitable teething problems BUT things will improve the more flight time we have. Bejazzled is the name of this specially created magical interlude and on stage I am supported by two ‘new to magic’ assistants who do a great job.

So, if you’re in Lands End (Cornwall) you might like to pop by and say ‘Hi!’.

The magic show is there every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon throughout August, with additional Bejazzled shows on 11th, 18th and 27th August.

The approximate show times are:-

Merlin Day Thursday August 11th.
Punch 11.30 – 1200
Magic 12.30 – 1.15
Punch 1330 – 1400
Magic 2.45 – 3.30
ILLUSION Show 4.00 – 4.45

Pirate day Thursday August 18th

Punch 1230 – 1.00
Magic 1.30 – 2.15
Punch 2.30 – 3.00
Magic 3.30 – 4.15
ILLUSION Show 4.45 – 5.30

Air Ambulance day Thursday August 25th
Punch 12.30 – 1.00
Magic 1.15 – 2.00
Punch 3.15 – 3.45
Magic 4.00 – 4.45
ILLUSION Show 5.00 – 5.45

All other Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout August No Illusion shows and following times:
Punch 1.00 – 1.30
Magic  2.00 – 2.45
Punch  3.15 – 3.45
Magic  4.15 – 5.00
Magic  5.45 – 6.30

The Punch and Judy Show is from Mr Tickles – a great Childrens Entertainer.

The Magic Show is a family show featuring Mr Tickels and Myself

The Illusion Show is BeJazzled

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Penn & Teller Fool Us : 23rd July

Penn & Teller Fool Us  : 23rd July

Another weekend of prime time magic and more of it please – especially when Jonathan Ross is a little more restrained.


So Gazzo in control of his language and level of abuse made for a little less fluid of a routine than I have come to expect from this great performer BUT nevertheless he did the business and demonstrated what makes him such a master of this classic effect. Hearing Penn and Tellers assessment of his mastery was great and simply confirms what many of us know.

In a street situation this guy is matchless – in a TV studio were we can see him biting his vitriolic, yet entertaining tongue, the performance may be  less than ‘turbo’ but the skill is obvious.

Colin McCleod

Love this guy – but I think the effect, which was supposed to be designed to fool magicians, wasn’t the best choice and I think the subtlety of the ‘method’ is best suited to being used as part of a series of effects.

Keelan & Charlotte

An entertaining ‘quick change’ routine with some of the changes being particularly quick….. and becoming  more perplexing complete with  a stunning ending.

As Penn said – “It amazed but did not mystify”

Brynholf & Ljung

Fantastic , amusing act – great guys with fun personalities – the two key bits of technique which could have caused trouble for the performers and been spotted by the magical duo became the key bits of focus for me I guess.

The control was slick and I, like Penn and Teller thought the ‘clipped’ bit at the end was the secret. Apparently not, so I missed it too. Pleased these guys did it as I liked the premise and execution.

Penn & Teller

The cut and restored sheet (aka C&R Turban) performed with the panache and energy that is unique to these guys. Loved the ‘evangelical’ patter.


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Magic School : Magic 4 Learning

The Real Hogwarts came to Liskeard School in Cornwall last week when Advanced Skills Teacher John Golding invited me to present aspects of the Magic 4 Learning programme.

Liskeard School’s Activity week featured a range of extracurrcular activites for students and in the early stages of the planning John Golding invited me to offer a Magic School session as part of the programme.

John and I have worked together on a number of innovative educational projects in the past, he trained as an NLP practitioner with me and got the ‘magic bug’ a couple of years ago.

The Magic 4 Learning programme, which developed from David Copperfields Project Magic (with his permission) uses magic to motivate learning, develop personal, social and thinking skills whilst at the same time allowing young people access to tuition in magic tricks.

The aim is not to produce a batch of new magicians, although this is often a by-product of the sessions, but rather to offer a context in which to develop team work, creativity and communication skills. The programme was developed to support and motivate learning and not necessarily teach the next generation of conjurors.

You can find out more about the programme and its planned development at Magic 4 Learning

You can hear a podcast about the Magic School below and in the next day or so I hope to add some photographs from the event.

It was great to see ALL of the pupils so actively engage in the magic show at the end  of the weeks sessions. The invited audience were not only entertained but amazed by many of the performances. I mean few, if any, of the pupils involved in the sessions knew any magic  before the week started.. The magic kits and Crafy Conjurors book provided gave then a kick start, and of course the coaching and support in learning the trciks helped, but by the third day the young people were developing their own ideas; doing more reading and research and working together towards creating a magical experience for their audience.

It was great to receive Tweets of support from Penn & Teller, The Fool Us Team, Andy Nyman, Richard Wiseman, Piff the Magic Dragon and David Copperfield… it gave the whole magic school a feeling of connection to the world of magic. Using a safe, closed, social media network the students were invited to view and comment of performances from some of the Greats in the world of magic; write reviews of Penn & Tellers Fool Us show and enagage in a discussion about the work they were doing.

It was a GREAT week and the students were FANTASTIC…. one or two may well choose to follow up on the interest created during Magic School and become young magicians….


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Penn & Teller Fool Us : 16th July

Penn & Teller Fool Us  : 16th July

Another great show, the quality and expertise of the acts cannot be questioned even if they do not manage to fool Penn and Teller.

My only real gripe I guess would be with they hyperbole and aggrandisement practised by Jonathan Ross. I mean there is no doubt that Penn & Telller are amongst the worlds elite magicians and are therefore part of a small group. Teller is, of course, exceptionally knowledgeable and I would love to be part of a talk on magic with him and Max Maven (recognised as a great performer and historian of magic) or with Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger (recognised for their devotion to the teaching of the art and craft of magic).

TV and Showbiz Talk is about presenting ‘stars’ with all the titles and honours it can bestow and sometimes the over enthusiastic ‘billing’ of its artists can be amusing. Take for example one of the acts on tonight’s show (Michael Vincent) he has a lesser billing to the stars of the show (understandably) BUT is recognised worldwide by magicians as one of the finest exponents of ‘classical magic’ with books, DVD’s , Magic Awards and international lectures to his credit he truly deserves the label ‘’great’. Of course, he is not a household name and I guess that’s what the game is all about. Sometimes its not simply about talent, it’s about marketing and ALWAYS about exposure.

AND this, by the way, would be my answer to some of those magicians who are concerned about the “Fool Us” premise of the Penn & Teller Show. I accept magic is not simply about fooling people, it is about the art and the craft BUT, let’s be honest magic is about that moment of awe and wonder when the dramas presented by the magician cause the mind of the spectator to question HOW, WHAT, WHEN?

HOWEVER, this programme is, for the most part, showcasing great talent and magicians who otherwise might not be known by the general public – and that has to be a good thing!

So tonight’s show …

Cubic  Act

This was a great routine, nicely constructed and beautifully executed, the plot of the confused magicians is straight from Cardini. I was with Penn most of the way with only a slight clue of what was going on – Teller got it so no trip to Las Vegas for Cubic Act.

I do think that this act was a great union of abstract art and illusion and also think that some viewers may have jumped to an early, incorrect, conclusion as to method and so be blinded to the art of the

Nick Einhorn

A great premise, easy to follow with the premise of testing female intuition… the ‘chair plot’ taken to the nth degree….

The opportunities given for the spectator to change their mind really confounds the eventual climax of named person in right seat with correct food holding the right coloured envelope.

This fooled Penn & Teller and so a big WELL DONE must go to Nick.

I loved the routine – and, not wishing to imply I know more than the dynamic duo, there was one question that occurred to me which, if asked, might have lifted the veil of mystery on this exceptionally smart routine. If my assumption is half-way correct Nick not only managed to fool Penn & Teller but pulled off one of the most beautiful of Becker-esque-style subtleties. (Hint for fellow mentalists there to see just how far off mark I am).

Of course Nick may not have done what I think he may have done, my thoughts are tentative and untested, and in which case I am lost too.

Michael  Vincent.

What can I say…

Immaculate card handling especially with Penn & Teller sitting at the ‘critical angles’ and a plot that was so direct – the transposition of signed cads from a red deck to a blue deck. The display of the selected ‘blue cards’ and the switch for the ‘signed red cards’ which HAD to have taken place was invisible…

It’s so hard to convey to non magicians how elegant, smooth and flawless Michaels work is. His technique is invisible to many of the world’s most magical eyes and represents decades of practice, mentoring and personal dedication.  Love your work Michael – inspirational and aspirational!

Morgan and West

The 4th Dimensional Tourists…  From the outset I loved their Victorian style characterisation.


The art of cutting silhouettes is something we don’t see very often and the few times I have seen it performed live have been very entertaining. The premise of this act was great and I too thought they did what Penn & Teller said they did… The fact that they did not makes their routine even more intriguing. I want to watch this routine again for that non-switch..

Penn& Teller Nail Gun Roulette

What can I say – wonderful routine.

Loved the delivery, the menacing humour and the fact that Penn spoke of the ‘ethics’ or ‘real danger’ on stage.

If you were to ask me what makes Penn & Teller so good, apart from being nice guys – I met them once on their first UK show several years ago – is the fact that Tellers obvious skill is support by Penn’s ability to deliver great lines. Their attitude to the magic, what they do and what can be implied by their effects is sharp, challenging and intelligent.

Both are masters of their art and have carved themselves a niche in the world of magic not because of what they do but HOW they do it.

Aspiring magicians take note – it’s YOU and YOUR attitude that is perhaps more important than what you do. Great magic can be ruined by poorly constructed presentation – the dynamic and interesting performer can make a good effect a miracle.


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Penn & Teller Fool Us 9th July 2011

Penn & Teller 9th July 2011

So I’m a bit late this week with my blog on the Penn and Teller show. I was gigging last night and today had to collect an illusion for my summer show and do the radio bit for Penwith Radio. However I have literally just finished watching it and here’s the ‘blog.

Daniel Kramer

The 15 Year Old from London who is ‘dedicated to ‘ his ‘art’….

He performed Six-Card Repeat with a nice attitude and line of ‘patter’ and great confidence. The ‘arm twister’ mini-illusion was nice but obviously not designed to fool Penn and Teller. I loved the fact that the producers included this act to inspire younger magicians.

It was a confident performance from an aspiring young magician who by the way got a great boost from the feedback offered by Penn & Teller’s.

All you guys at the Magic 4 Learning sessions at Liskeard Magic School take note!


Romany was a member of the Jeff McBride Master class I was involved in a couple of years ago and so I knew what to expect from her act. I really like her stage persona, the vamp-burlesque character suits her presentation and Jonathan Ross played a great patsy.

Of course the old spiritualist tie wouldn’t fool Penn and Teller, but I must admit I like what Romany does and love her stage presentation.

Alan Rorrison

An ‘underground’ close-up magician from Port Glasgow – Scotland has produced some great close-up workers so I was interested to see what he would do.

The Matrix is a classic close-up effect which was nicely handled as an opener and led to a cod explanation. The ‘in-the-spectators -hand’ version of the matrix is something new to me – great idea!

I wasn’t sure of the method, but would have hazarded a guess which tied into what Teller, through Penn, intimated. Having said that I loved the idea and the thinking – nice use of the ‘method’ in question. Some very very smooth handling of both ‘props’ and spectators. This guy was doing stuff that would play very well in the real world.

Richard Bellars

Ahh, I thought I recognised him as being on the show before –how did he get that chance.

Ok – this was a superb prediction effect and I’m not sure how the information got to where it was supposed to go?

So on watching again there are some interesting possibilities – nice blocking with quite a lot going on. I have ideas….. BUT this was a lovely sequence and well deserving of a place in Vegas.

Penn & Teller’s bit….

As always a lovely bit of entertainment and mystery. An object lesson in how build an effect and engage the audience.

Another good show!


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Penn & Teller Fool Us 2nd July

Penn & Teller Fool Us 2nd July .

So the Saturday night ritual is becoming well and truly established. Make sure everything is sorted by 8pm so that is possible to sit down and watch some great magic before heading off to any shows that are booked. So far ITV player hasn’t been required, next week things will be different,  but for now I sit with a coffee ready to enjoy magicians doing their stuff.

PIFF – The Magic Dragon

Loved the concept from the outset and the guy had some great lines toped by a superbly visual transformation of a signed card.

Whilst Penn and Teller got the method in outline so sharing what everyone would’ve been thinking the exact method was only really talked about with Piff. This is an important point I think as I have heard that some magicians are uncomfortable with the notion of exposure. To date, however, I don’t think Penn and Teller have exposed methods but simply stated what a critical spectator would have thought.

Soma – The Current World Champion of Magic

Soma, from Hungary, presented a lovely act with manipulations (multiplying ‘phones), a great use of the leaning-gag and a super paper tear. A delightful act which wouldn’t fool an informed magician in terms of method but the technique was flawless.

Alan Hudson

A prediction effect with CD’s placed into different CD players –very entertaining and a great plot. Unfortunately Penn and Teller got it AND I am forced to take back something I said above. In this instance the method was fully revealed in the questions asked and the subsequent banter.

I guess the real point is the fact that even though magicians can often suss a method it’s a mistake to think that the audience is stupid. If they (magicians and the audience) are being entertained and amused by the act and the performer the ‘method’ is far less important.

Damien O’Brien – Street Magician

Ok, first thing for me is the delivery in terms of use of inane ‘patter’ – “what I’m going to do” and other such phrases.

Do street magicians need to script their routines?

However the effect was great!

The handling of the cards and the multiple realities was superb – again Penn mentioned the word ‘force’ but in this case the method was not tipped to the audience. I don’t think anyone watching other than other magicians would be able to reconstruct that drama played out by Damien.

As with the other shows, the fooling of Penn and Teller seems to be secondary to the quality entertainment presented by the magicians on the show.

Teller closed the show with what I  think is one of the most original ‘misers dream’ routines I’ve ever seen….

A fish tank, some great sleight of hand and goldfish!


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Johnny Depp in Magic Movie???

Carter Beats the Devil
Image via Wikipedia

I really hope this bit of gossip is correct….

A quality story with a quality actor… just need a good screenwriter and director!

Depp is reportedly at the top of Warner Bros.’ wish list to play the lead character in ‘Carter Beats the Devil, as real-life 1920s magician Charles Carter in a fictional caper involving President Warren G. Harding and a sawed-in-half trick gone wrong.

Attempts have been made before to bring the 2002 novel by Glen David Gold to the screen (Tom Cruise was once attached), but now the film is back on the fast track.

All reports suggest that a new screenplay has been written and the studios are looking for a director.

Watch this space.

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