Fooling Garwulf
Houdini and The Greatest Magic Showdown of Them All

Robert B. Marks | 28 Jul 2015 19:00
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Editor's note: come for the episode recap; stay for the wonderful insight into the world of magic (starting on page 2!)


It's another week, and another good, solid episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us. So, without further ado, the performances:

Austin Janik: My favourite moments from the first season of Fool Us were, without exception, the ones involving young magicians. There's something very special about seeing a talented teenager or kid stand in front of his/her heroes, perform, and be told they're doing well. Janik may not have fooled Penn & Teller, but he got to live the dream and have two of his inspirations tell him that it's not one he has to wake up from - and that is a magical moment.

The Amazing Allison: This was a wonderful mentalism act with a lot of "va-voom," as Misty Lee would say. It uses a very well done redemption and escalation plot - when Allison first reveals the number prediction, it looks like she's failed, but then she reveals that not only has she succeeded, she's done so in an even more impossible manner. If I have one criticism of her performance, it's that she probably did the revelations in the wrong order. The number revelation is so spectacular that it overshadows the picture revelation, almost turning it into an anti-climax. She put on a great show all the same, even if she didn't fool Penn and Teller, and her schtick with Teller was incredibly entertaining.

Mac King: I think this one has to be the best performance of the night. It wasn't sublime, but it was pitch-perfect comedy magic, which is actually really hard to do. The production of an animal during a variant of the cups and balls also harkens back to the Gali-Gali men of Egypt, who perform the trick with live chicks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a45_NFT6x1M). It didn't fool Penn and Teller, but it was a blast to watch, and the guinea pig stole the show in the best way possible.

Norman Ng: This was a wonderful performance and a great take on cutlery bending. On an intellectual level, magic should challenge and explore the nature of reality, and by having the bending of the real fork cause the drawing of that fork to bend as well, this trick established an impossible connection between the two. It's a good presentation and quite wonderful, even if it too failed to fool Penn and Teller.

Penn and Teller: What they performed wasn't magic, although it was a trick, and a very entertaining one. I'd almost describe it as a good-natured prank on an audience volunteer. Still, it's a performance with a lot going on under the surface - the experience of the volunteer on stage is very different from that of the audience, and as such it mirrors every magic trick ever performed, where what the magician sees is very different from what the audience sees.

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