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Arts & Entertainment

Bonus Chapter No. 2: Piff the Magic Dragon

Penn & Teller

Lesson time 16:36 min

A professional magician with years of experience, Piff the Magic Dragon gets advice and coaching from Penn & Teller and Johnny Thompson on a new routine that he has created largely from scratch.

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] PENN JILLETTE: We first met Piff the Magic Dragon when he performed on our show "Penn and Teller-- Fool Us." He came on, we fell in love with him immediately. And over the past years, he's moved to Vegas. He's got his own theater over at the flamingo. And we work with him a lot on different things. Not only do we help him with his magic, but he's also come in and rehearsed with us and given us ideas for our show. And he's just a friend and someone we work with a lot. He's brought us a trick that we've not seen that he's having some trouble with, for us to kind of brainstorm with Johnny Thompson and see if we can get the trick to be a little better and maybe go into his show. He is in his full Piff the Magic Dragon wardrobe. You should always rehearse in the actual wardrobe you're going to wear. That's a rule that I know, but I never follow. When Penn and Teller rehearse, I rehearse in jeans. But he should be in his magic dragon costume. So Piff, show us a trick. - Look, first of all, I'm a genuine magic dragon. - Okay. - All right. So I'm just here naked, as I usually am. Basically, I didn't get dressed today. All right? - And you've also got Mr. Piffles and Jade with you. - He's in his dragon outfit. - Yes. - Yeah. - She's in her showgirl outfit. - She's in her showgirl outfit. I am-- - Butt ass naked. - Let's continue. - Okay. - One of my favorite periods in magic-- and there's really only one of my favorite periods of magic-- was back in the day between 1910 and 1940. Those 30 years, people were just doing crazy stuff with magic. Like, when they were writing magic books, they would just make up effects and then just make up even more ridiculous methods. So you read these things, you go, how is that possible? Spoiler alert-- - It's not. - Bang. My favorite period in magic. When magic was real magic. Now, during that period there was a guy who was called Alexander. And he toured all over the place as Alexander the Man Who Knows. And even now, his posters are incredibly famous. - Alexander was not exactly a magician. Alexander was a mentalist. - Yes. - Who did really obnoxious, horrible readings of the audience. You know-- - Correct. - He would threaten the audience with revealing their secret affairs. You know, and he'd have people out doing research on them so that he could. It was creepy. - Yes, but hang on a minute. PENN JILLETTE: This is your hero. - He did, also, marry 12 women and kill three men, so it wasn't all bad. - - So this crazy, crazy person would wear a turban on onstage and he would do readings from the audience. And the audience would come in, they would write down questions and throw them in a bowl. He would then concentrate, look into his crystal ball, and receive these messages. Now, the messages weren't coming from outer space. They were coming from two metal plates that he was standing on, a...

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.

With Penn & Teller, how could I go wrong? Thank you so much for excellent audio and video. Worth every penny. Oh, the magic was above and beyond too.

Penn and Teller are a wonderful pairing, I felt that I got insights that I was not expecting, like their ethos in magic.

I enjoyed the humor. I did like the ethical aspect of magic. Overall, I liked the simplicity and ease that was more engaging than from am book.

I loved it I learned the whispering Queen and other tricks!



I would love to see this act if it has been preformed since, would be cool to see the original idea, the discussion and evolution then the final product

A fellow student

Another way to do it? Depending on how simple it is...if he wanted to keep it as close as possible? Just....have the turban with a light on it. And then have a guy getting the messages in the PA system booth.

A fellow student

how do you do this FINAL NOTES: If you have the opportunity, as the duplicate card is being retrieved from the “impossible location” or while the audience is reacting to the trick, casually look through the deck, find the force card and sneak it out of the deck. Drop it into your lap or put it into your pocket. Then, if anyone wants to look through the deck, they will see that the selected card is not there, therefore the card found in the “impossible location” must be the same card.


These guys are a pleasure to listen to. So intelligent and focused, I never considered that there was a philosophical aspects of magic. Although this is a class about magic, there are great insights for all performers and non-performers as well. And I learned great, easy to perform magic tricks from some of the best in the biz! Thanks P & T.

Matt A.

And THIS is how much of our magic goes... Back to the drawing board, eh? I found this lesson slightly annoying - not because it wasn't good information but because I have been doing a mind-reading dog act for the last few years. But hey, a good idea is a good idea. That said, I've already solved the issues he's trying to solve here in this video. :) I don't use a real dog, mind you. Instead, it's just a stupid drawing that comes to life and interacts with me. Using some ventriloquism, I can then do exactly a 2 person mind-reading routine with my dog drawing and I have no issue with the electronics of that particular piece. But these are very good conversations about how to elevate a trick - and it also shows having a team of smart friends in the business can be SUPER beneficial.

Bryan I.

These lessons are really fantastic. I must say that I am a little disappointed in these 'mini' Masterclasses which seem to be more common as time goes on -- whatever happened to 20 hours of the master really giving deep insights into the most complex parts of their craft? But we get to see a glimpse of this when Penn and Teller improvise a better routine with this dog act. Very worthwhile.

Kevin W.

This may be a generational thing, but if I wrote something on a piece of paper and kept it, then someone read it, I would naturally assume that there was electronic trickery involved. I've grown up around technology and bluetooth and tablets (not to mention studying magic) so that makes the trick a little "too perfect" as Penn says. If that's the only way the trick could have been done, I'm going to naturally assume that's how it was done.

Stephen T.

this video caused me to exacerbate a preexisting injury with a hair dryer thanks a lot penn and teller

Nathan M.

This is a phenomenal session. The work they do to articulate what makes the effect entertaining, and cut away everything else that does not serve that, is -- well -- a master class...