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.

It was worth it just to hear Teller tell it like it is ! Entertaining and I have some things to practice now...

It was great, I just wish we learned more tricks and it had a few more episodes.

The Magic Shop was the funnest place to go on Newport Blvd in Costa Mesa. My brothers would say "girls can't be magicians"

Really fun, great intro to magic. I wish it went a little more in depth, but I am excited to continue learning through some of the resources they suggested. Overall very well produced.


Tiana R.

It's really useful to watch this in slow motion. If you didn't really get some of it, then slow motion helps, A LOT. Great tricks!


I keep thinking that all these lessons are really most important for the next generation. In another words clear plastic visuals. I got back to forcing and “feeling that.” So says the dead language dude. Always appreciate to your understanding for the next bunch of plastic cups and disappearing buildings. Thanks

A fellow student

The details are incredible for this staple in slight of hand. After years of performing the french drop, the detailed and thorough explanation allowed me to modify the slight to be even better.


Magic performances make me genuinely anxious / frustrated because I KNOW there's stuff going on I'm too dumb to see. I hate that feeling. This Masterclass is brilliant - not because it just shows how a trick is being done, but the teaching of it is a fantastic window. Thanks!

Charles J.

In addition to the right to left French drop, I've seen other techniques for moving the ball from one hand to another, but not in any detail. I wonder if there’s a book that focuses specifically on hand transfers.

Jose C.

So simple yet so hard when you're a novice. I have a lot more respect for magicians...


I just saw the introduction and started now watching this first lesson. Right now I feel a mixture of what I felt during my first performance of simple card tricks, and this amazing feel of wonder, when you see something and you know, THATS exactly what I was looking for. Damn, if I could start my career again ... but wait, perhaps it's not too late?


Ive tried to do this "French Drop" with my bills...…. alas they do not disappear... have any real disappearing tricks.. LOL. Im loving this class and about fell over when I finally heard Tellers voice...

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