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The Crazed Spruce

Season 4: Penn & Teller & Alyson &... A Chicken?

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I'm so excited for this show to be back. I know nothing about Kayla Drescher. Mike Super was on AGT, and he was fine. Not really my style, but fine. Young and Strange were on the first season of the show, and had a really good act. I've heard good things about them since, and I'm excited to see what they have in store.

 

The star attraction of the episode is Richard Turner, and on his own he's reason for everyone to turn in. He's the best card mechanic in the world. That's no bullshit. You ask anyone with even a moderate knowledge of magic or card handling, and they will tell you that the most skilled sleight of hand artist with cards is Richard Turner. He is unparalleled. He's also blind. Everything he does with a deck of cards he does purely by feel. 

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1 hour ago, SomethingClever said:

The star attraction of the episode is Richard Turner, and on his own he's reason for everyone to turn in. He's the best card mechanic in the world.

Based on this fact alone, I expect him to "fool" Penn and Teller.  Being able to get a legend in the magic community do a one-time set with them will outweigh whether or not they actually know how he does his performance.

Unless he's already got his own show in Vegas.  Then, like Mac King, they'll lovingly bust him.

Edited by SVNBob
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It'll be interesting to see what he does, and if he actually does try to fool them. I think there are things he does that would be possible foolers (not necessarily because they don't know the technique, but because nobody can do it as precisely as he can). More likely though, I think it'll be like when Michael Vincent came on, where they talk about how they know what he's doing because it's classic stuff, but they gush about how unbelievably he does it. 

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My guess for the P&T trick tonight is a new one they created based on counting fingers. IIRC it was developed so Penn had something he could do on the road without any props.  Or I could be way off. Just my guess for the teachable trick.

Edit afterwards: Nope, I was wrong. I think that trick is from Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends, if someone recalls that better than I.

Edited by Amarsir

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Really solid episode

I don't really like Mike Super's whole vibe, and lottery prediction tricks are so boring to me. You know exactly where it's going from the very start, so you have to get creative with building tension or the reveal just seems so anticlimactic.

Young and Strange are a really good act, I'd absolutely go see them do a show. They weren't ever going to fool P&T with that trick, but they're funny and energetic, and they put their own spin on classic tricks.

I was blown away by Kayla Drescher. That's a great magic trick. I'm always jealous of a great wordless trick because I can never pull them off, myself. It was entertaining throughout, is infused with meaning, has a killer payoff, and happens in the spectator's hands. Awesome, awesome trick. If I had less scruples, I'd steal it and do it myself.

Richard Turner is a marvel. I've seen videos of him before, but every time is a pleasure. His second deal is unbelievable. Even as he's telling you exactly what he's doing and the camera is zoomed in on the deck, you can't believe that it's really happening. I have guesses on how he does that last trick, but only because that's the only way I can figure it would be done, not because I can see anything.

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That trick wasn't exactly from Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends, but the structure was the same: here's a mechanical force, and Penn & Teller provide a reveal you can use to surprise your mark.

Kayla's trick was great, and it was so smart to use Teller. He's so good at mime, and he knew exactly what to do to enhance the performance.

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Mike Super's bit was probably the weakest of the night, but that's not a slight on him by any means. All the acts tonight were really impressive.

The only one I figured out was Young and Strange's, but it was an impressive spin on a classic trick. It took a lot of skill and precision on both their parts to pull that off, and it showed.

I've definitely seen P&T do that whole "forced-card-trick-with-video-reveal" shtick before, but it's still pretty entertaining.

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9 hours ago, SomethingClever said:

I don't really like Mike Super's whole vibe, and lottery prediction tricks are so boring to me. You know exactly where it's going from the very start, so you have to get creative with building tension or the reveal just seems so anticlimactic.

I like the aesthetic of selecting the audience via bouncing balls, and then those balls becoming lotto picks. Beyond that I have to agree. If you're going to do mentalism, make it funny or snappy. Or at least predict something more creative than numbers.

Quote

 

Young and Strange are a really good act, I'd absolutely go see them do a show. They weren't ever going to fool P&T with that trick, but they're funny and energetic, and they put their own spin on classic tricks.

 

They really know how to leverage having two personalities, like P&T sometimes (but not always) do. Unfortunately some of the bickering seems over-rehearsed in it's delivery (I'm including their first appearance) and would be just a hair funnier if they sold it better. But the "no prep required" implication of a cardboard box was a great turn on an old trick. Speaking of which:

Quote

 

I was blown away by Kayla Drescher. That's a great magic trick. I'm always jealous of a great wordless trick because I can never pull them off, myself. It was entertaining throughout, is infused with meaning, has a killer payoff, and happens in the spectator's hands. Awesome, awesome trick. If I had less scruples, I'd steal it and do it myself.

 

Yeah that was beautiful. We all knew it was torn & restored, and the steal was easy to see even with a generous camera cutaway. But I don't think any of us care about the mechanics because it transcended into art.

I did however find myself wondering how well it would work with a non-Teller audience member. @Monty is right that Teller was enhancing the pantomime. But how easy would it have been for someone to miscut the heart, or do the corner tear horribly wrong?

Quote

Richard Turner is a marvel. I've seen videos of him before, but every time is a pleasure. His second deal is unbelievable. Even as he's telling you exactly what he's doing and the camera is zoomed in on the deck, you can't believe that it's really happening. I have guesses on how he does that last trick, but only because that's the only way I can figure it would be done, not because I can see anything.

Then you're well ahead of me. I'll have to watch 6 more times to even begin to fathom a guess.

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I've never seen that Jimmy Ichihana card trick before. Really really cool effect, and I assume it takes a lot of mental power to pull off, as well as some mechanical skills.

Edited by Amarsir

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I did not care for the way the cutting-myself-in-half trick was presented on television. They cut to the audience while the magician was still in the contraption, and then they cut back and he was standing next to it. I really wanted to see how they made it look like his torso reconnected to his legs, but the TV show skipped that part.

I will say that the legs in the contraption had on brown shoes, but the shoes on the magician were black.

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I really liked Ichihana and Burns. I thought Burns was really funny. There were times when I knew the joke that was coming, but I laughed anyway because of the way he delivered it or the little twist he put on it (throwing the glitter out of the egg is a terrific little bit). The trick is a fun play on a classic, but it worked for me because his personality worked for me. 

Ichihana did a great trick, and he made it look effortless and came off as totally charming and personable in the process. Just really excellent card magic.

I didn't love the chicken trick, but damned if it didn't fool the pants off me. 

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On 7/21/2017 at 3:02 PM, Monty said:

I did not care for the way the cutting-myself-in-half trick was presented on television. They cut to the audience while the magician was still in the contraption, and then they cut back and he was standing next to it. I really wanted to see how they made it look like his torso reconnected to his legs, but the TV show skipped that part.

I will say that the legs in the contraption had on brown shoes, but the shoes on the magician were black.

Completely the same for me. It's not the first time this show has done a friendly cutaway, but it was the most blatant obscuring of something we quite reasonably anticipated. I can only assume it was terrible.

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I didn't notice the shoes, but Caserta set himself up as a dick in his intro before he did his phony looking trick, and then followed through by sending it to the judges.  Smile, be gracious and thank them for the opportunity, moron.  Fooling P&T is not the point of the show for the participants.

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Since it's heavily edited, it's possible I got the entirely wrong impression, but the vibe I got when they sent it to the judges was that perhaps whatever keyword/tipoff phrase Teller was using to explain to him they had him, possibly he didn't recognize. So even though they told him his method, he thought they hadn't. Or something like that. Not that he was trying to get it on a technicality, but that he was confused. He looked it, to me.

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I don't know quite how I feel about Shin Lim. He's a massively talented sleight of hand artist, but there's something very self-serious about his magic that I find a bit off-putting. Also, I really can't believe Penn and Teller got fooled by this one. There are some individual moves that they probably didn't catch, but the core techniques of many of those vanishes and transformations are pretty transparent if you know what you're looking for. This is a good performance, and very magical, but I didn't think it was as good as his first one.  

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17 hours ago, SomethingClever said:

I don't know quite how I feel about Shin Lim. He's a massively talented sleight of hand artist, but there's something very self-serious about his magic that I find a bit off-putting. Also, I really can't believe Penn and Teller got fooled by this one. There are some individual moves that they probably didn't catch, but the core techniques of many of those vanishes and transformations are pretty transparent if you know what you're looking for. This is a good performance, and very magical, but I didn't think it was as good as his first one.  

I'll agree with the core of that. I feel like he's doing a lot of stuff spread over a whole routine, with no single big "tah-da!" And so they don't feel like going over it with a fine-tooth comb to call out each bit. I do think making serious magic work is harder these days than comedic. Continued over a whole show I don't know if it would work for me, but as an isolated act I thought his tone was fine.

On another note, I thought Teller did a great job with the Thomsoni bit. Did Alyson not introduce Georgie or was she mentioned and I missed it?

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It made me wonder about the rules. Like maybe there's some threshold with the judges of how much P&T need to call out? So if he does say 15 techniques, and they know 10 (or there are 15 possible techniques he could have used to accomplish everything, but he only used, say 7, and they can't necessarily pick the right 7 but also aren't allowed to just name all 15) and that's not good enough and they know that so they just say, fine, fooler? I'm making this up, but that's the gist of what came to mind.

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I'm just really surprised because with the first routine, it genuinely did feel like a fooler to me. Like, there were a few moves you could pick out, but even as an educated observer, I had to watch it 3-4 times before I had a real grasp of what was going on. Here, I just can't fathom that they wouldn't have been able to say

Spoiler

"black art and a half-and-half deck"

That covers 80% of what he's doing. 

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On 7/28/2017 at 1:19 AM, SomethingClever said:

Also, I really can't believe Penn and Teller got fooled by this one. 

I agree with that, but I did find Shim Lim very enjoyable.  He did a fairly routine close up magic act, which I'm sure Penn and Teller (and maybe especially Teller) are big fans of.  I don't think he actually fooled them, but I think they gave him the Fooler just because he just was so damn good at it.  They really appreciated the artistry of it.  There have been times before when they've given out the Fooler just out of respect to the magician, usually when it's a classic act that influenced them - David Roth comes to mind, and when Mark and Nani Wilson appeared in their son Greg's act.

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20 hours ago, SomethingClever said:

That covers 80% of what he's doing. 

Yeah, I even picked up on that much, which makes me either it's the speculated "respect fooler", or it was built in such a way that everyone knew they'd know that part, but the part the judges wanted them to say in order to claim unfooled was the 20%. Like maybe they knew it when they saw it there was a specific chunk that they could not identify, and that bit was the basis for fooling.

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Am I the only one who found the bird act at the end that Teller did to be extremely dull?  I appreciate the old-timey stuff, but just found that to be very "meh".

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6 hours ago, funky-rat said:

Am I the only one who found the bird act at the end that Teller did to be extremely dull?  I appreciate the old-timey stuff, but just found that to be very "meh".

It has to be appreciated as a tribute to their mentor. Absent that element, I would say that it's a little slow and repetitive for a modern act. Birds from handkerchiefs is fine, but (especially from P&T) it has to be jazzed up.

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11 hours ago, Amarsir said:

It has to be appreciated as a tribute to their mentor. Absent that element, I would say that it's a little slow and repetitive for a modern act. Birds from handkerchiefs is fine, but (especially from P&T) it has to be jazzed up.

I think if it had been a few minutes shorter, it would have been fine to me, but I think it went on a bit long.  I appreciate magic in general - I don't need to be wowed - I appreciate someone doing the simplest of tricks if their presentation is good.

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Apologies if I use my first post here to jump right in, but I saw this episode last night and greatly enjoyed it. On the whole, I am finding this season superior to the last; I particularly like how the majority of magicians (Shin Lim notwithstanding) this season are doing a single trick, rather than a panoply of effects. 

I thought Johnson very good. I guessed the gimmick a few seconds before Penn explained it (I'm not surprised Johnson didn't know Seven Keys to Baldpate--my God, there's an oblique reference!), but that was irrelevant at least to me: he did a first-class, suspenseful, fun water-tank routine.

I underestimated Tieber until he said that he hadn't used a force. As is, I'm still not wild about his act (for whatever reason), but the trick is impressive, and it certainly fooled me. 

Fields was fine, and the trick fun. I'm no magician (merely an amateur who likes this stuff), so I didn't guess the secret to his trick at first, but with Penn's reference I think I have the gist of it.

I liked Jessica Jane Peterson as well--I knew how she did both parts of her trick very quickly, but the routine was well-done and great fun.

The biggest problem, I thought, has to do with P&T themselves. I know I'm not the first to say this, but are they running out of tricks? They've used all their "classic" routines, along with several from TV specials. This episode's "trick" was a joke: what can they have left? Has Penn ever mentioned this on his podcast?

Edited by Salzmank
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3 hours ago, Salzmank said:

I underestimated Tieber until he said that he hadn't used a force.

But he didn't say he didn't use a force, he said he didn't use a waterfall force.  

Regarding Penn and Teller's trick, I was confused by it.  Was it even a trick?  Is that computer program real?  Not sure what the point of that was, even though I think I've seen them do that before.

By the way, did anybody catch Penn and Teller on Jimmy Fallon last week?  They did the trick where they wore the inflatable costumes.  Again, it wasn't so much a trick as it was a visual joke.  But it was entertaining, and that's the main thing.

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6 hours ago, Salzmank said:

The biggest problem, I thought, has to do with P&T themselves. I know I'm not the first to say this, but are they running out of tricks? They've used all their "classic" routines, along with several from TV specials. This episode's "trick" was a joke: what can they have left? Has Penn ever mentioned this on his podcast?

I'm one of the ones who has been concerned about this before. Yes Penn talked about prepping the closing tricks. Yes he talked about this one. No, he hasn't to my knowledge expressed concern that they're getting thin.

This trick (I'll call it "Extravagant") was performed 30 years ago on Saturday Night Live as "The most expensive card trick ever." If you picture the technology then, it was more impressive. I'll go into more in the "how the tricks were done" thread. But also you might want to search youtube for that SNL clip. (I'd link but on mobile atm.)

I will say this: some of their tricks are not to fool you, but to watch them fool someone else. P&T were on The Tonight Show last week and they did a trick which in hindsight - and possibly to the audience at the time - was completely obvious. But it was fun and it seemed to fool Jimmy in the moment. So that was the enjoyment of it. Similarly, you could appreciate this trick from the pov of his two volunteers who picked a card, told Penn nothing about it, and were told what it was.

That said, especially knowing what I know, I think it could have been better presented.

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3 hours ago, rmontro said:

But he didn't say he didn't use a force, he said he didn't use a waterfall force.  

Regarding Penn and Teller's trick, I was confused by it.  Was it even a trick?  Is that computer program real?  Not sure what the point of that was, even though I think I've seen them do that before.

By the way, did anybody catch Penn and Teller on Jimmy Fallon last week?  They did the trick where they wore the inflatable costumes.  Again, it wasn't so much a trick as it was a visual joke.  But it was entertaining, and that's the main thing.

Ah, did he? For some reason I thought he said he hadn't done a force at all. I'll have to take another look at it, then.

 I was equally confused by P&T's "trick." I'll expand on this in my response to Amarsir, but I don't mind its not being a trick, I just didn't like this particular effect. And I'm still wondering if they're running out of material.

Thanks!

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4 minutes ago, Salzmank said:

And I'm still wondering if they're running out of material.

Minor bit of a relevant spoiler:

Spoiler

Not all of the closing acts are done by P&T. One is a tribute to them based on another old SNL bit, but performed by other people.

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38 minutes ago, Amarsir said:

I'm one of the ones who has been concerned about this before. Yes Penn talked about prepping the closing tricks. Yes he talked about this one. No, he hasn't to my knowledge expressed concern that they're getting thin.

This trick (I'll call it "Extravagant") was performed 30 years ago on Saturday Night Live as "The most expensive card trick ever." If you picture the technology then, it was more impressive. I'll go into more in the "how the tricks were done" thread. But also you might want to search youtube for that SNL clip. (I'd link but on mobile atm.)

I will say this: some of their tricks are not to fool you, but to watch them fool someone else. P&T were on The Tonight Show last week and they did a trick which in hindsight - and possibly to the audience at the time - was completely obvious. But it was fun and it seemed to fool Jimmy in the moment. So that was the enjoyment of it. Similarly, you could appreciate this trick from the pov of his two volunteers who picked a card, told Penn nothing about it, and were told what it was.

That said, especially knowing what I know, I think it could have been better presented.

Thanks for letting me know the background, Amarsir. Much appreciated.

Let me clarify that I don't mind at all if Penn and Teller do "non-tricks," or tricks that are only for the volunteer. Their knife-throwing routine is a definite favorite, and I always like "Blast Off" and the cups and balls.

Simply put, though, this last "non-trick" seemed a bit of a mess. Was it for the couple? Fooling us by pretending it's a computer program that does the work (what I'm thinking, but then there's no "reveal")? I'm looking around for the SNL clip and will let you know when I find it.

Thanks again.

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23 minutes ago, Amarsir said:

Minor bit of a relevant spoiler:

  Hide contents

Not all of the closing acts are done by P&T. One is a tribute to them based on another old SNL bit, but performed by other people.

 

Do you mean that P&T do not perform the trick themselves on

Fool Us, or that they do it but as a tribute to other people? (I thought Teller's "Great Tomsini" bit last week was lovely.)

I can only recall the business with the acrobats/dancers as a trick where other people did the final act.

Edited by Salzmank

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1 hour ago, Amarsir said:

This trick (I'll call it "Extravagant") was performed 30 years ago on Saturday Night Live as "The most expensive card trick ever." If you picture the technology then, it was more impressive. I'll go into more in the "how the tricks were done" thread. But also you might want to search youtube for that SNL clip. (I'd link but on mobile atm.)

I thought I'd seen them do that before.  I guess that answers my question about whether or not the software was real.  I doubt that computers could do something like that 30 years ago (maybe I'm wrong).  Now days it's not hard to believe at all.  Anyway, I agree as long as the act is entertaining, it doesn't matter if the "magic" is weak.  I loved that bit they did on the Tonight Show.

I don't know if they're running out of material, but maybe the answer is for them not to do a trick every week.  It isn't really necessary for the format, when you think about it.

58 minutes ago, Salzmank said:

Ah, did he? For some reason I thought he said he hadn't done a force at all. I'll have to take another look at it, then.

Check it out by all means.  IIRC he said he didn't do a waterfall force.  He then went on to say that they could have said "stop" at any point and it wouldn't have made any difference.  I don't think that's the same as saying it's not a force though.  Actually, I have no idea how the trick works.  Maybe there was no force.  If there was a force, it was kind of an odd choice that both Penn and Teller's cards were red 8's (the eight of diamonds and the eight of hearts).  Seems kind of random.  So maybe there was no force, I have no idea.

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1 hour ago, rmontro said:

Check it out by all means.  IIRC he said he didn't do a waterfall force.  He then went on to say that they could have said "stop" at any point and it wouldn't have made any difference.  I don't think that's the same as saying it's not a force though.  Actually, I have no idea how the trick works.  Maybe there was no force.  If there was a force, it was kind of an odd choice that both Penn and Teller's cards were red 8's (the eight of diamonds and the eight of hearts).  Seems kind of random.  So maybe there was no force, I have no idea.

I liked Siegfried Tieber's act. I thought he was quirky and that worked for the trick: simple but not obvious.  Having just made my guess in the "how the trick was done" thread, I will say I don't think it was any kind of force.

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On 8/4/2017 at 3:03 PM, Amarsir said:

Oh that's right, I forgot about the acrobats.

I meant the former.

  Hide contents

P&T did it on SNL. Now someone else will do it on Fool Us.

 

Found a clip of the old bit on NBC's site.

Spoiler

 

"Will do it"? So I suppose this is coming up? 

 

 

 

Thanks for the clip; it was more impressive there, as you say, but I'm still not very fond of it. I like their "exposés that aren't really exposés" routines (of which the cups and balls is probably the best), but here there's no real reason for the majority of the audience to doubt that it's an expose, and I think that's necessary. 

What you suggested in the "how were the tricks done?" thread would help the trick immeasurably. I wish they'd gone with something like that--or maybe he can't do the fan and ends up dropping it? Teller freaks out in the studio, and Penn tries to cover it up--but somehow the computer program "gets it" anyway? 

I think rmonto's solution would be correct earlier in the program, but now the show does demand it, as they've done one every week so far, and it would seem to be admitting a lack of material if they just stopped now (or even between seasons). I'm reading the possible solutions in the "how was it done" folder right now.

Edited by Salzmank
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Ok, I enjoyed the chicken trick, but are we really supposed to believe there was no magician intervention and the chicken read her mind? 

I was utterly charmed by the playing with food guy and would definitely go see his act if he had one.

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I had no idea on David Parr's trick either. It was great.

No duds here. P&T's trick at the end was good too, although the Magic Circle tie-in seemed pretty extraneous to it.

 

By the way, Alyson was really good as the subject. Her expressiveness really added to both tricks.

Edited by Amarsir
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1 hour ago, mansonlamps said:

I agree, great episode.  I can't wait to see someone smarter than I solve David Parr's trick.

It's actually quite simple, but there was so much switching and moving that it was hard for P&T to notice that a small early move would pay off huge later. Overall, though, a quite elegant little trick and a deserving winner. 

 

All around great episode. No stinkers, P&T's trick was great, and Allison was actually a contribution instead of a hindrance. Best in a while. 

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Featured magicians include Dan Sperry, Naathan Phan, Jean-Pierre Parent, and Richard Forget.

Edited by The Crazed Spruce · Reason: I f***ed up and posted the wrong episode info

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On 8/11/2017 at 9:46 AM, Amarsir said:

I had no idea on David Parr's trick either. It was great.

No duds here. P&T's trick at the end was good too, although the Magic Circle tie-in seemed pretty extraneous to it.

 

By the way, Alyson was really good as the subject. Her expressiveness really added to both tricks.

What you said!

 

Seriously, I was delighted that P&T's trick was so good, in light of what you and I have discussed, and I completely agree about the Magic Circle tie-in's superfluousness (Penn seems unable to resist getting digs in at "stuck up" magicians). Ditto for Alyson, whose hosting has improved greatly this season.

I agree with everyone that this was a good episode, but I thought all the good stuff was in the second half of the episode. I wasn't fond of Staats and Sinclair's tricks at all--which also made me wonder, has anyone with a persona won? Shin Lim, yes, but I can't remember anyone else, and Lim's is restrained (possibly the only part of his act that warrants that adjective!). Piff the Magic Dragon was hilarious, but he was not a "fooler"; the foolers that come immediately to my mind--Shawn Farquhar and Kostya Kimlat--didn't use elaborate personas. Neither did Richard Bellars, Nick Einhorn, Mathieu Bich...

Wikipedia informs me that "Handsome Jack" won (I'd forgotten him), and he definitely had a persona. There are a few others, I now see, but--on the whole--I think the best "foolers" just go out there, present the trick, and let it do all the work of entertaining. 

Anyhoo, does anyone know what's happening with the episode order? I don't see Ep. 6 on here--it was moved to tonight because of a baseball game. 

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This was probably one of the reasons they all wore the same outfits; it gave continuity for when they did a clip of mostly tricks involving Alyson.  I think the gross-out magician was hoping P & T would miss part of the trick from his going for gore, though P & T have done their share of gross-out tricks as well (including the trick at the end with Finn & Teller.)  I loved her line about "never mind how he did it, how do I change back?" as well.  I suspect the monitor was because she didn't have to do an assistant folding herself into a box (or she did, and used her acting skill to cover it.)  

For me, the best trick of all was Piff smoking less, because the eating a banana to show disinterest is a rare blend of funnier and healthier.  (Good luck, Finn.)  Though that word appearing on the paddle was also very cool.

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@marketdoctor

This episode has aired? I thought the sixth episode was supposed to come on last night, but it was bumped to tonight for a baseball game. I'm a bit confused--did I miss something?

Edited by Salzmank

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21 minutes ago, Salzmank said:

@marketdoctor

This episode has been aired? I thought the sixth episode was supposed to come on last night, but it was bumped to tonight for a baseball game. I'm a bit confused--did I miss something?

Your local CW may have moved the night it aired in your area, due to local baseball, but it aired everywhere else.

46 minutes ago, marketdoctor said:

For me, the best trick of all was Piff smoking less, because the eating a banana to show disinterest is a rare blend of funnier and healthier. 

I'm a bit confused, Piff ate a banana in his original appearance too, which caused Teller to nearly explode in laughter.

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@Charlesman

Yes, I can understand that, but was it the sixth or seventh episode that aired last night? We haven't seen the sixth ("Something Fishy This Way Comes"), which was supposed to air last night and has been moved to tonight, or the seventh ("A Big Round of Applause for Alyson").

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