Music & Entertainment

Cups and Balls

Penn & Teller

Lesson time 10:24 min

Once you’ve mastered the French drop, you can expand upon that method to develop a routine with cups and balls. Penn & Teller demonstrate a few of the countless variations you can do with cups and balls.

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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[SAXOPHONE PLAYING] - When you have the French drop, you get that down, then you have to put it into some sort of routine like a cup and ball thing. - Yeah, I mean, you asked a very good question earlier when you said, you know, once it's gone, won't they ask-- won't they ask where it went? And the answer in this case might be that it goes, boom, from here to there. - Okay, what? [MYSTIFIED LAUGH] - We're using a venerable magic method called a duplicate. - Huh. - Oh. - And we're going to give you all duplicate balls so that you can each learn to do this. And we're going to combine that with what in magic is called a load, which is almost a self-explanatory term. It's the movement where you sneak a ball underneath a cup. - Hmm. - And in this case, this is a very simple operation. Hold the ball-- you're going to hold the ball like this, just in your little finger like that. And then you're going to take the cup and just place it on the table and let the ball sit underneath it. Really nothing to it. You just-- you take the cup, and you set it down right over the ball. And it's good to have-- instead of having the ball on the outside, have the ball right underneath there. - So that's like this? That's right, exactly. So when you set the cup down, it's the most natural thing in the world to set it down. And of course, you could do that long before the audience expects the ball to appear. They think there's only one ball in play. - Yeah. - So here we are again. And that's-- when I did that for you the first time, I just sort of waved this cup around as if, you know, as if I was not interested in it and did my load very quietly there. - Hmm. - And now you go back and you do your French drop vanish once again using your wand. Let's try that. Tim. Yeah, that's right. So we take it. We put it in our hand, supposedly. We tap the magic wand there-- boo. And then we tap there, and there's the ball. - Boom. - Now we're in a very interesting position here because watch what happens. Here's where I've been left. I've been left with this ball is here, right? So if I if I go this way, boom, and it goes there. And I lift it up. I can show this ball and secretly load this at the same time. - Oh! - So it becomes a little-- so it has this little, slightly cascade effect to it. So there it is. Just watch how that sequence might work. You go here, bang, there, and oh my goodness, there's the ball. Well, let's do that again. Boom, boom, boom, and there's the ball again. And you can do this till you're blue in the face, or at that point you could take this ball and say, well, I'm just going to put the balls away now. Oh my goodness, it's back again. Oh, my good-- [GLEEFUL LAUGHTER] What's interesting about this is that each magical surprise is covering the next move, right? When the ball first appears-- first appears under the cup, it just appeared and, oh, people 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.

I love Penn and Teller, so watching them and learning from them was a treat .I'm also a writer and a lot of what they saw can be applied to storytelling and any art form.

I really appreciated the little details and nuances they shared while teaching. The bonus coaching videos were exactly the kind of thing i was looking for.

I am a Teacher and these tricks have really helped me get control of a classroom of rowdy kids as a reward for good behavior.

Amazing instructors, tricks and life wisdom. Thank you so much for this experience! Truly special!


Bryan D.

Teller's technique is so smooth... it's ridiculous. Even knowing what he is doing at every step... it's imperceptible.

Eyal H.

I can see that you use your right hand while i'm using my left hand to vanish the balls , is it necessary to use the other hand?

A fellow student

I’ve always wanted to learn magic from Penn and Teller, so it’s like a dream come true for me.

Craig R.

Two of my favorite magicians of all time. I love how Teller is pretty much doing all the talking. Total role reversal here.

Carol W.

FACINATING. Very well presented. Altho I think it’s a shame we live in an age where these magic tricks are revealed to the general public on a regular basis. All the same, this will be fun to do for friends. THANKS.

Brett G.

Was expecting MUCH more from this "pro" series, and for the price of admission, I should have gotten much more. It was OK for the most novice and beginner of folks who want to start learning how to preform magic tricks. I would not recommend this series to anyone who really wants to be a magician, since there are much better DVDs by other professional magicians who provide dozens of truly dazzling tricks along with all of the instructions on how to perform them.


Great fun Or Saturday women that’s beautiful is what I have is this something every household is :


The girl’s white bang looks so unique and so cute. Her reactions to the magic tricks are lively, fun to watch.

Alexander S.

This was unexpectedly good, and I was immediately able to make 3 or 4 scenarios. Practice is essential. I French drop for ten minutes a day as I wish to perfect the smooth transition.

Ben D.

After working through this a few times, it’s amazing how far forward you need to be thinking but also how purposefully you need to set things up (ie. where you set the cup) to make it look free flowing and natural.