Music & Entertainment

Sleight of Hand: The French Drop

Penn & Teller

Lesson time 15:58 min

Penn & Teller teach the French drop, one of the most fundamental sleight of hand methods. With students watching, they break down the steps of the trick and explain how it’s a building block for hundreds of other tricks.

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] - We're about to teach you the real backbone of magic, the most important move you could learn, the French Drop. We thought before we get some students together, we would show the way we use the French Drop and a few other moves. But mostly, this is all stuff we're going to be teaching. But this is our version of a trick that's known all over the world, perhaps the oldest trick in all of magic, the Cups and Balls. And we've seen this trick in India, Egypt, China. And they all have different props that they use. They use metal cups handed down generation to generation, hand-carved wooden cups, fancy little flocked balls. But we felt as we traveled around the world, we're representing the United States of America, so we used red plastic cups and aluminum foil balls. So this is the totally disposable Cups and Balls. And it goes like this, same way it does all around the world. Take the first ball, place it in our hand, vanish it, and it appears underneath the cup. All around the world to the second ball, put it in our hand, vanish it, and it appears underneath the cup. Take the third-- now here's a little variation that Teller came up with. He takes the ball, places it in his hand, then shows you underneath the cup, yet it still appears underneath the cup. Now we're all set for the next phase. We have three balls, three cups. Take the center ball. Place it under the cup. Take the two side balls. Put them away, but they rejoin in the center cup. I'm just going to take a moment and do a little bit of juggling for you. But then a giant ball is in the center cup, one more on either side, and of course for the finish, it's an American baseball because that's the American Cups and Balls. But after we'd done that for awhile, we thought we should do a more specific Penn and Teller version of the Cups and Balls. And we're known for breaking rules of magic so we thought we'd break a few rules of magic. Now the first rule of magic is you never do the same trick twice. So we're going to do the same trick twice. Second rule of magic is you never tell an audience how a trick is being done. So I'm going to tell you exactly how this trick is being done. The third rule of magic is you never let the audience see your secret preparation. They must not know what is hidden in which pocket. And the fourth rule of magic is unwritten but I believe any magician in the world would agree with us in a second-- that you never ever do the Cups and Balls with clear plastic cups. So here's the Penn and Teller version of the Cups and Balls. We take the first ball, pretend to place it in our hand, and I've already snuck it underneath the first cup. Then the second ball, simultaneously secrete it beneath the cup. Pretend to place it in our hand and show it. Take the third and final ball, pretend to place it in our hand, pretend to show you underneath the cup, but replace it in the cup, and then secretly secrete it and reveal it. Now...

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.

the masterclass has taught me how to do magic to my fullest

Excellent! I couldn't stop watching it. Provided entertaining knowledge.

Amazing course! Penn & Teller do not only propose to learn tricks (actually not so many) but to adopt the attitude and what it takes to be a magician

It has furthered my respect for magic! Very enjoyable lessons.


Jake B.

i have mastered the french drop but people always get suspicious and say let me see your other hand, how do i deal with this


I don't know if this will be covered in future videos but how do you deal with people who keep nagging at you? haha. People that don't let you finish the trick, keep interrupting you and say stuff like: "Show me the other hand!! NOW" I've done some card tricks before and for some reason people can get really annoying with that. Oddly, I also feel like that happens more often with friends? Almost as if people who know you better have LESS respect for what you're trying to do than some random stranger. Or they just feel more entitled to touch you or try to grab your hand. It really destroys the atmosphere one tried to build


Thanks for the extra content. Very helpful, but now I cannot download and review offline. Disappointing.

James B.

The movements are easy to get the hang of. Unfortunately, I have the noticable tell of not closing my other hand once I've pretended to move the ball to it.

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.

Tracy R.

Making magic accessible in a fun and entertaining way. And is great to hear his voice!

Julie S.

Its really great, I think the new standard for Masterclasses... EXCEPT functionally when you pause the lesson the dialog box covers up what I need to see to practice Teller's move (which has been stated below) .

A fellow student

Who were the people there? Did they volunteer? Did they need to pay? Were they invited? How? Thanks!


It's so simple but it is a powerful trick. Did it with a coin since I have no tinfoil at the moment and the effect is much the same.

stephen A.

ive been a magician for 20 years. Normally doing street stuff and close up. This is so clearly taught and penn and teller are amazing guys. Met them both two weeks ago at the show here in san antonio and i knew right then and there i was buying this lesson