Appearing on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us! (part 1)

I’m often asked about what it was like to perform on the popular television show Penn & Teller’s Fool Us (spoiler alert: It was spectacular!) Over the next couple of weeks, I give you a peek behind the curtain and explain a little about the experience.

My path to the show started in 2009 when I published my first magic book, High Spots. Page 19 featured an explanation to a signature trick of mine called “26!” which was particularly well-received by magicians. I won’t spoil the trick; you can watch an old performance of it below.

The trick proved popular in the magic community because it contained a few elements that really stumped fellow magicians. In fact, some of the biggest names in magic have admitted to being fooled by it during late night card magic sessions. In 2012, a fantastic magician named Eran Biderman performed my routine to rave reviews on an Israeli television show called “To Topple The Master.” The show was based on the Fool Us concept and featured famous mentalist Max Maven as the Master. Eran went on to win first place in the competition.

In 2015, I was approached by a magician asking for permission to use the trick in his audition for Fool Us. I was intrigued but politely declined. With his encouragement I submitted the trick myself. The producers thought it was great… but they also liked another trick of mine. In fact, they liked the other trick even better. It was something I created in 2010 called the Fully Automatic Card Trick. The premise is that cue cards in the deck lead a participant through performing their first card trick. The producers thought that this concept would work great with the show’s host, Alyson Hannigan. You can watch the original version below.

Once we decided to go with that trick, I spent nearly every waking hour thinking about how to improve it… to make it more entertaining… to make it more likely to fool magicians. After lots of creative sessions with my closest magic friends, we work-shopped the trick into something that I was extremely proud of. I knew that whether I fooled Penn and Teller or not, this was going to make for a great television segment.

The story continues… next time!