Penn & Teller: Fool Us, US run on CW

There used to be other videos of him doing the trick and they did not have a cut. It’s called Signed, Sealed, Delivered if you want to try to find one.

The had an amazing Black British magician who did incredible sleight of hand card tricks. They had him on twice because he was so impressive and smooth with his moves. He did not trick them because they know how to look for the moves, but they were super impressed and I think he was the only guy they gave two shots.

I would not be surprised if they tried to help him get started in Vegas. The dude was smooth and only great magicians would catch him.

Penn talks about it a little bit, how they got into magic because of that amazed “that’s impossible” or “how did they do that?” feeling, but the trade off with learning how they did that is you lose that amazed feeling. It’s replaced with an appreciation of how well someone does the trick, how they change the patter or layout or twist the presentation of the gimmick, or even just a desire to be as good at that type of magic. That’s the point of the show - make them feel amazed.

I can see that myself a bit. Not that I’ve ever performed magic, but watching magic tricks that I know how they’re done, I’m not mystified by a performance. Which is okay, because being mystified that was is somewhat unpleasant to me. But I’m starting to see the downside of revealing the details of every magic trick to any audience. Sometimes you want to leave them their wonder.

I challenge you to study the video at 26:18 and identify how he could have two back-to-back envelopes and not get spotted by P&T. He slowly opens and lays over the one envelope, and pulls the cash out.

Yes, I think they were caught out in a technicality of how Penn tried to state what was occurring.

Yes, that is precisely how it’s done. America’s Got Talent had a magician on this week, in the lifestyle segment before his act, he’s showing off for his grandmother doing repeated card pulls from the air with both hands. He also does the empty hand both sides trick. I ran it in slowmo and you can still only barely perceive the card. He joked with his grandmother about when he was young and learning the trick, she made a curtain with a hole in it to feed him the cards, because that’s how they thought it was done.

Sounds like the aforementioned Michael Vincent. He had a really smooth verbal banter going the whole time he’s doing his fancy card work. He’s smooth as silk.

If you look around on YouTube, you can find John Archer and others doing this trick and there is no force: it can end with any envelope.

He really is. He’s one of the best card trick guys out there and it would not surprise me if Penn and Teller invited him to open for them even though he did not trick them. Talent like that deserves promotion. I think he said he’s been working on his tricks for 30+ years.

Yes, and you can buy the trick. The labeling of “sex” and so forth is also irrelevant as the sold trick comes with blank envelopes that you can label yourself.

It’s $25 if someone would like to buy the trick…and maybe private message those of us interested in how it is done. :slight_smile:

I’m sure a force isn’t needed, at that point I thought it might have been useful, but I think BobLibDem has figured it out.

I’d be surprised if it’s not as BobLibDem suggests. Quite simple.

I’m not going to read this thread yet, because so far I haven’t quite finished the first episode (my laptop ran out of power and I was too lazy to get the charger). But I wanted to say thanks for bringing this show to my attention. I’m in the UK, but rarely watch TV as it’s broadcast, so I had never even heard of this. What I’ve seen so far has been very entertaining and lot of fun.

Okay, so the trick is called “Blank Night”, and comes with envelopes and a gimmick.

I think this guy has worked it out. He even includes helpful pictures snagged from the video.

So, he was kinda there when Penn pegged his handling of the envelopes was fishy, but the host pressed Penn to be specific, and Penn said he stuffs a smaller envelope into the larger envelopes. Nope.


The gimmick is a back of an envelope that is slightly larger than the regular envelope back, so it sticks up high enough to cover the real envelope’s back flap edge. The money sits cupped in that.

Very well done, and his handling is very well practiced. Plus, his banter makes the trick entertaining.

Do you know of any youtube videos demonstrating the effect you’re describing? (Bot the hand flip and the card pulls?)

You mean how to? Quick youtube search, try these

Also look at

I actually learned from them, too, just now.

One more point on John Archer’s trick. You always give the last choice to swap to the last selector, because that masks the gimmick, so it allows you to stack the two envelopes and then separate them again.

One question: when he outguesses the guy, is there any real trick there, or is it just guessing? If you get it right, you use his line, if you get it wrong, you just brush it off?

That’ll work but I was actually just wanting to see the effect. Thanks for the links.

If you are saying that he has an extra envelope with cash that he holds behind the real envelopes, then I agree. At the very end when he has one envelope left, if you look closely as he lifts it up towards his face, you can see the two envelopes slightly apart at the bottom.

Not a full envelope. See my post 28.

Episode 3: A Belly Full of Needles

By now, you know the format.

First up, an act called High Jinx. This is a duo of Michael (20) and Tamsin (23). She apparently has only been doing magic for about 3 months, so he’s the experienced one teaching her.

Their act consists of a huge box contraption with a winch and crank. The box is lifted, Tamsin sits down, the box is lowered over her. Then Michael puts 4 pairs of blades through the box to divide it into ~8 inch thick sections. Then he operates the winch to separate the sections. Then he lowers the sections, removes the blades, and Tamsin pops out the top with her jacket top sliced up.

I’m not going to bother to explain how this one is done - if you don’t know, why are you reading this thread? Penn and Teller are very polite about handling them, drawing a picture to show how it worked but not showing the audience. Teller eats the paper.

One curious note, their stage setup includes two other big box contraptions that didn’t get used, and each of those has a pair of puppets/mannequins dressed up like them sitting in them. I was half expecting something to happen and end up trading places with the puppets, but that didn’t happen.

So, if they are fresh newbies with no shot at fooling Penn and Teller, why would they come on the show? Obviously for exposure and promotion. They’re cute and fun and the act was smooth. Good on them.

Second act: Jon Allen. He comes out to a table with four paper bags and does a variation on the slam your hand on a sharp spike trick, i.e. don’t slam your hand on the spike. His version has a good twist, however. First off, he shows the bags, and each contains a wooden block. The fourth block has a hole through it, into which he slides a 6 inch long sharp steel spike. (It’s a nail, but he likes alliteration.) So the set up is as expected, paper bags, one with a spike pointed up, the other three just wooden blocks to disguise the weight. The paper bags appear to be plain bags with the top folded over one time to make the insides unexposed.

He then brings out a young lady from the audience, and he places a screen in front of the bags. He moves the bags so the girl doesn’t know which is which, then has her move the bags so he doesn’t know which is which. And of course the audience can’t see which is which. Then he puts the screen down.

The big twist is this: the conventional method for doing this type of trick is to have the volunteer shuffle the items, but then select which bags to slam your hand down on yourself, by telepathy/clairvoyance/reading auras or whatever gimmick transfers unknown nail locations. His twist is that he lets his volunteer decide which bag he slams his hand into.

First bag, slams his hand down. Second bag, he gets even more creative, and uses the young lady’s hand. He holds it over the bag, has her loosen her arm, and slams on 1 to make sure she doesn’t lock up and resist. Impressive flourish.

For the third pick, he uses his own hand, but she picks the bag again. Typically, this is where the magician uses a misdirect and hovers his hand over one bag, prepares to slam down, and then slams on the other bag. In this trick, he’s supposedly relying on her intuition, not his own, so he has to hit the bag she picked. That means he can’t swap it up, and that makes the standard technique of marking the bag not work. How do you get the volunteer if not an accomplice pick the correct bag?

So he slams his hand down, no nail, then opens the remaining bag and extracts the nail in the block of wood, then retrieves the nail from the block of wood.

At first I was thinking he might be using a magnet to detect the nail, which would explain using such a large nail, but that wouldn’t work because of the aforementioned part of having the assistant pick the bag to squash.

Penn and Teller talk it out, then before explaining the trick, Penn makes a statement. It was mentioned about youtube videos of this kind of trick going wrong and people impaling their hands. Penn points them out and that some magicians do tricks that really are dangerous, but he says they are immoral, it’s wrong to do, and hopes the producers would ever allow that on the show.

As far as the explanation, Penn says that Teller was expecting their to be nails in each bag and that he would reach in and pull up the nail and connect it in the last bag as he was extracting the block, but that didn’t happen. Then Penn says that he believes that Jon palmed the spike right before the last slam, then placed it in the bag when he went to retrieve the spike and block. I went back and watched that section several times and can see his hand position to mask the spike. Jon said they were close enough to call it not fooled. I don’t specifically know what was not quite right in the explanation, but Penn was right about the move if not the exact timing.

Third up, Graham Jolley. He’s a jolley old fellow, which is better than begin an old graham fellow (who want’s to be a stale crumbly cracker?). Graham is a mentalist performing a card trick to read Penn and Teller’s minds.

He takes a standard deck of playing cards, gives it a quick 1 shuffle, then has Penn take the top third of the deck, and Teller take the next third of the deck. Each of them is to look at their bottom card but not show it to him. Then he has them place their parts back on the stack.

After fondling the cards and making a comment about trying to misdirect Teller to get him to look at his eyes instead of the cards, he then spreads them on the table to show two Jokers in the deck face up against the rest face down. He pulls them out and says the jokers will tell him the two cards. Penn’s Joker whispers in one ear and says the 18th card down, Teller’s joker says the 43rd card down. Graham then takes the deck and does a quick count down from the top and pulls the 18th and 43rd cards. Then he holds them up backs to the audience, has Penn announce his card (10 of Spades), and flips the card to show the 10 of Spades. Then does the same with Teller who pantomimes 5 of Spades to being shown the 5 of Spades.

But the real flourish is then he picks up the Jokers, turns them over, and on the back is written 18 on Penn’s joker and 43 on Teller’s joker.

P&T confer for a few moments, then Penn starts explaining what it wasn’t. He says it wasn’t a force, they had free selection of the cards they picked. He then says it wasn’t a bank of cards (i.e. put a stack of 10 of spades about a third way down, and a stack of 5 of spades at 2/3 down). At that point, he admits defeat.

Clearly Graham is a master card manipulator. Obviously the shuffle wasn’t much of a shuffle, he had to keep the jokers where he knew where they were. The trick is how he let them free select a number of cards, then take them back and arrange the deck such that those two cards fell on the 18th and 43rd spots. I don’t spot him doing any bottom dealing, and I’m sure P&T were watching for that. The one thing I do spot is that he has Penn select the top stack and Teller the second stack, then has Penn place his on top of the third stack followed by Teller on top. He appears to push the cards together and not use any finger parts to retain their card locations. I’m thinking there has to be something in the way he collects the decks that allows him to know/constrain the card locations. But I don’t know what that is. Very smooth, and he fooled 'em.

Side note here, because I can. We’re having a discussion over in the America’s Got Talent thread about a magician, Mike Super, whose schtick is that he as a spirit energy, Desmond, who helps him with his tricks. I was thinking, if someone came on this show trying that crap - if they even got in the door - P&T would really tear into them. Normally they’re polite when they’re busting someone’s moves, and often they reveal they know without revealing the trick, but someone like that would get skewered. They might even retract the comment about real harm being used.

Anyway, that brings us to act 4, James More. James has a table with a box wheeled out, takes off his shoes, then opens the lid to a “cut the woman in half” type box, climbs in himself, places his feet out the bottom and head out the top and closes the lid. Then he does a clever inversion and instead of sliding the halves apart, he slides the parts together. First he pulls his head end of the box toward the middle, then he brings his feet in from the other side, with his arms sticking up in the middle. His assistants spin the box (which actually gives a glimpse into the neck opening if you’re looking closely), and then he reverses the motion and restores his feet and head to their proper locations, before climbing out of the box.

It’s a neat trick, and Penn applauds him for doing the trick himself instead of pointing at someone else doing the trick (like Penn likes to do). Then Teller goes up and shows him a diagram that he agrees is correct, and then Teller sets the paper on fire.

It’s fairly obvious this is just a variation on techniques for sawing a woman in half. If you are watching, you can tell the box is deeper inside than it shows as he is stepping into the box. Couple that with an accomplice to have feet, and the two of them lying side by side and sliding independently. Still, it is a nice performance and a nice change to a bog standard act.

Finally, we get the P&T act, a Belly full of Needles. P&T walk out on stage with an apple and 100 6 gauge needles stuck into it. Teller selects someone from the audience to witness up close, and Penn parks his ass for the rest of the show. Teller has the helper inspect the needles to show they are real, then hold the apple. Teller then pulls a handfull of needles into one stack, carefully places them into his mouth, slides them in and swallows them. With much show. It’s beautifully done, and his handling of the needles doesn’t leave much room for palming them or swapping them out.

He repeats that several times to get all the needles swallowed, takes a couple bites of the apple and eats them, then pulls out a mirror and flashlight so the assistant can inspect the interior of his mouth. Nothing there, no needles stashed under the tongue or in the cheek. Fairly elaborate showing off the mouth is empty. Finally, he swallows a fairly long piece of thread. Wiggles around, has some gastrointestinal distress, then extracts the thread from his mouth with all the needles attached so they come out one at a time.

Beautiful act, and amazing. No clue how he managed it.

I noticed Graham flub both times he was counting out the cards to get to the 18th and 43rd cards. I was thinking he palmed the cards and that was how he got the cards back in the deck at the correct locations.

Me, too, and Penn was exactly correct. Him saying “close enough” was maybe just some embarrassed face-saving.

BTW that’s what I’m fining interesting – the chance to go back and watch the trick in slo-mo and look for the tell.

I was very proud of myself to have not been fooled by Jolley’s trick, and I had all the details ironed out before the end of the original broadcast with pen and paper.

I tossed a coin to decide if I should tell you all or not (you won (or lost, depending on your point of view)).

[SPOILER]Except for the early false shuffle there is very little card manipulation to be done, the trick works on a rather beautiful mathematical principle (which you don’t need to understand to perform the trick).

As you noted Penn cuts first (taking packet 1) and Teller second (taking packet 2), but Jolly collects the packets in the same order placing them on the remaining packet (3), thus subtly reversing the order of packets 1 and 2 (originally the deck was in order 123 (top-to-bottom), after the cuts and collection it is in order 213).

When the cards are spread (I’ll assume left to right), the two jokers are removed creating three packets of cards L(eft) M(iddle) and R(ight). When Jolly reassembles these he places L above M and then adds R. (So before the spread we had (top-to-bottom) RML after we have RLM).

Those are all the manipulations required.

THE SET UP (top to bottom):
9 indifferent cards
1 face up joker
18 indifferent cards
1 face up joker
25 indifferent cards

When the first subject cuts they MUST cut between the two jokers, and the second MUST cut deeper than the second joker. This is why Jolley specifies “about a third” to Penn and then “about half” to Teller in his instructions.

With that set-up, with those conditions and with those moves the chosen cards will appear in the 18th and 43rd positions.[/SPOILER]

It is truly a fantastic trick which is practically impossible to see through if either of the subtle moves is overlooked, and even then it is not obvious that any principle should exist that cause the cards to arrange themselves so nicely.

Thanks for doing this every week, Irishman. I watched the series when it was originally aired, and followed the thread(s) and I’m watching again now and reading this thread.

I love magic and I love to know how tricks are done and I am always still awed at the whole thing. Always amazed, always entranced. And most of the time I can’t even follow the explanations anyway because I am too dense :smiley:

The power of suggestion isn’t always going to work. There’s the possibility somebody’s going to cut above both jokers. Maybe he gathers the cards differently if that occurs, but your explanation still sounds like he’s relying too much on chance.

I agree that the way he gathered the cards was key. I’m thinking he already had the jokers turned over and at the bottom of each stack. He put P&T’s chosen cards at the bottom of each stack when he assembled the deck, so that they would each be below each joker. He didn’t have to know *what *the cards actually were: he knew *where *they were.

When he spread out the cards, the jokers were face up. When he pulled the jokers out and talked to them, he knew the chosen cards would be at each gap where the jokers used to be. When he gathered the cards back into the deck, he slid the middle stack slightly out of place so he could tell where the cards were by feel. He held the deck in such a way that the audience couldn’t see the misplacement, but he knew by feel. He knew Penn’s card would be at the bottom of the top stack, and Teller’s card would be at the bottom of the middle stack. When he counted the cards out, he did enough dealing from the bottom of the deck to buffer the count and get P&T’s cards to appear at position 18 and 43.

Moreover, he “fumbled” the cards and made enough jokes about his age to convince the audience he wasn’t capable of sleight of hand. Other card magicians on that show have done the fumble as well.