Fooling Garwulf
"Star Spangled Magic," and Contest Controversies

Robert B. Marks | 1 Sep 2015 19:00
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It's another week, and another strong episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us, this time not pre-empted by any baseball games (that said, it did run into some complications, which will be discussed below). So, without further ado, the performers:

Riley Siegler: I'm going to be frank about this one - when kids perform on Fool Us, they tend to provide my favourite moments of the show. To see a young magician vindicated by his heroes is just heartwarming. However, the performances themselves tend to be quite rough around the edges, with the inexperience showing through. So, when I see a 13 year-old magician take to the stage, I know what to expect...

...and Riley Siegler made me eat those words. To have a 13 year-old kid perform on Fool Us is special and heartwarming. To have that kid perform a fresh take on Three Card Monte, and do it clean with a level of poise, confidence and presentation suggestive of a decade of performance experience is nothing short of amazing. And, to top it off, to have that kid deliver the best performance of the night - and make no mistake, Siegler did just that in a field of veteran conjurers at the top of their games - to the point that watching Penn give him the magic kit felt like it was beneath Siegler's level, was astounding. He didn't fool Penn and Teller, but this kid - no, this magician - left me in a state of awe.

Jade: This was a very charming performance, and proof - if any be needed - that wonderful magic does not need complexity to delight. The trick is a form of the Thumb Tie, and just presents the impossible so smoothly that if you blink, you miss it... and if you don't blink, you still miss it. It was a wonderful routine by a great performer, and it's yet another one of the many cases where it may not have fooled Penn and Teller, but that just doesn't matter.

(Penn mentioned the Ten Ichi Troupe, which were originally led by a Japanese professor and amateur magican named Tenichi Shokyokusai Hattori, 1852-1912, and were famous in the United States and Britain for performing the Thumb Tie between 1901 to around 1928.)

Ran'd Shine: This was a really good performance. I've talked a number of times about connecting a magic trick to something greater, giving it additional context and meaning, and Shine did just that. His links to the South African philosophy of Ubuntu added an extra layer to his card trick that really made it "pop." Penn and Teller weren't fooled, but it was a great routine all the same.

(Penn mentioned Claude Rix in his commentary - Rix is a French magician and magic creator.)

David Roth: There's something truly special about watching an old master at work, particularly when it is somebody who helped make coin magic what it is today, working in that very medium. Roth was smooth and masterful, and was only just edged out for best performance of the night. It was great old-style coin magic with a baffling finish that managed to fool Penn and Teller. What more is there to say? It was delightful.

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