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Arts & 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've taken a dozen of these courses (mostly just learning from the videos and not doing the workbooks). This Penn & Teller and the Ron Howard courses are my very favorite. But let me add that absolutely ALL of them are terrific!

AWESOME!! COOL MAGIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SO tickled to see you guys 'back stage' and teaching me actual magic. Thank you both so much. We have loved you both for many years. God Bless.

Penn & Teller are certainly masters; they have been working at the highest level of their craft for close to 4 decades. It is extremely refreshing and informative for them to step back and explain some fundamental things about what they do that makes them such strong, original and artistic performers.


Dr Taliesin C.

Really enjoyed the lesson, and seeing how effective the French Drop can be. Also, really enjoyed the routine.

A fellow student

Any tips on smoothly loading the ball under the cup? I make noise and it isn't smooth at all...

Matthew S.

Great lesson. I am spending my quarantine time learning these techniques. I can't wait to show my students at school. The break downs are easy to follow. Thank you!

A fellow student

Oh my GAWD!!! I KNEW I was gonna enjoy this, but I had no idea how much! This has been my carrot-on-a-stick; I just finally finished my bachelor's degree, and promised myself this class as a reward, once it was completed. Grinning from ear to ear. Also - Y'all are even better teachers than you are performers, and that's saying something. Excellent breakdowns and drills. Thanks so much!!!!!

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.