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Arts & Entertainment

Bonus Chapter No. 1: Advanced Student Coaching

Penn & Teller

Lesson time 14:27 min

Matt Donnelly is a co-host of the podcast Penn’s Sunday School and has recently started to learn magic. Penn & Teller team up with legendary magician Johnny Thompson to coach him on a chop-cup routine that requires a lot of practice and technical skill.

Penn & Teller
Teach the Art of Magic
In their first-ever MasterClass, Teller breaks his silence as he and Penn teach their approach to creating moments of wonder and astonishment.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - Matt Donnelly is a really interesting case in magic, the only one I know of. He has 25 years experience in improv, professional comedy, and we've known him for about 10 years. And he had no interest in magic. He didn't have an interest in magic as a child, nothing. But he started writing on our show, "Fool Us," just giving jokes to the magicians, and then just decided, that since he had access to magicians, he would become a magician. So we had Johnny and Teller and me and Mac King and a bunch of other people in Vegas each give him a trick-- and learning magic for, what, a year? - Like a young baby, I still measure by months. So yeah, I've been doing magic for 14 months. - Okay. - Yeah. - And magicians always learn the tricks, get obsessed with all the moves, and then add in the show business and comedy. And this is one of the only cases I've ever known where someone had all the show biz and all the comedy and wanted to add in the magic. So show us. - Yeah, yeah. So I took every favor I could call in, and I asked each magician I could find to teach me one trick. Johnny taught me three. He handed me this thing; he called it the chop cup. Right? And I was learning six or seven tricks at the same time for my show, and this was the only one that actually involved doing magic moves. Right? So like everything else, I went to someone. I said low magic skills, high performance would be great. You know? And then this one you gave me a year ago, Johnny, and it was too difficult for me to do. I cut it from my show and replaced it with another trick. I decided to bring it back. The Ballantine ale thing didn't seem contemporary, and I want to be contemporary. So I had a solo chop cup made. - And why? - I've been meaning to talk to you about that. - All right. So this trick involves-- - Why don't you get the beer can out of there? - Yeah. - Yeah. - Okay. Do you want me to just do the routine? - Yeah. - Yes. - Okay, great. All right. Now, as I said, I'm a Vegas magician. Okay? And a lot of people think, oh, you live in Vegas, you must be all about drugs and gambling and prostitution. And the truth is I've never been much of a gambler. But there is one game I do like gambling on. It's a simple game. It involves a ball and a cup. And I'm looking for somebody here who has the same pension for games of chance that I do. Sir, did you dress yourself today? - Yes. - And then you picked out that shirt and those shoes? - Yes. - Well, you're the type of gambler I'm looking for. All right. Now, what I want you to do here is just pay attention-- ball in a cup. Ball in a cup. Now, no Vegas casino has these dealers sittin' around with a ball in a cup, do they? No. - No. - That's because I learned this game in Jersey. This is Jersey gambling, where I grew up. And I want you to tell me ...

Open your mind with magic

With more than 40 years performing together, Penn & Teller have sold out shows around the world, earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and created the longest-running headline act in Las Vegas. Now the legendary magicians are taking you behind the curtain. Learn fundamental magic tricks and the psychological tools that create amazement, at home or on stage. Expand your perception of the possible.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

P & T are my favorite people in the world, I think.... :-)

From the breakdown of some very simple tricks to the philosophy behind doing magic "honestly", this class is great for anyone from the beginner up

Coolest way to teach a course ever!!! Stay Awesome--With Love and Respect MM

Penn and Teller provides lovely moral of Magic trick and meaning of it. I learned how magic tricks should be performed in beautiful ways.



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A fellow student

What's beautiful about this trick is not only how smooth it is...but that 'punch' at the end. I've seen size be impressive, but in those cases the size has to be RIDICULOUS. (Watermelons, mainly).

Greg R.

It's clear that they wanted someone very new to coach for this so they could give advice that would be suitable for anyone like us. It's interesting that even Teller is spending two years matching a routine by Johnny Thompson before he starts adding his own style to the routine. I guess that catches a lot of people out - they immediately try and do it in their own style, before mastering the trick. Now I know why magicians use lemons (or small apples). I always had a hunch that Penn & Teller's jacket pockets were larger than normal, but hadn't noticed they had no flaps on them either. Subtle details, but essential for making close-up magic look fluid!

James B.

So how do you get the magnet into the cup? Can you do it yourself, or do you need to buy it specially made?

Casey D.

This was cringe worthy at the start but then quickly became one of the most informative lessons. If there is a school of magic, it ought to be taught in this manner.

Arthur M.

How amazing was this lesson. Imagine having these 3 comment on what you are doing. A great instructional video which so much can be learned if you have been doing the chop cup for years or months. Well done.

A fellow student

I feel like Matt have set his self-expectations too high lol. These are world class magicians.

andrew P.

WOW ! Being coach by Penn & Teller and " Johnny Thompson" ! How cool is that !

David R.

This was maybe my favorite thing so far. I'd love to watch some sort of show like this.

George A.

This bonus lesson was perfect, as I am presently working the Chop Cup into my close-up routine.