Penn & Teller 'Fool Us'

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Postby IrishMagicNews » 01/08/11 08:03 PM

Great review/comparison with BBC's Magicians at http://bit.ly/gngRBE

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Postby Daniel Bain » 01/09/11 01:06 AM

Really enjoyable show. Would be great to see this air in the USA with more episodes.

Also would be great to see Michael Vincent tour the USA. He's really brilliant and always a pleasure to watch perform.
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Postby Paul Gordon » 01/09/11 03:45 AM

Much better than BBC's "Magicians", but still don't like the format of "fool us" etc. I'd much rather just watch a good magic show without the angle/spin. It's as if the producers think that the magic alone isn't good enough...

Mind you, I was once asked to be on a TV magic show where one had to perform for a semi-naked Kelly Brook. (I guess the "angle" was to see if she could distract you.) I declined. Fool... :)

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/09/11 11:34 AM

The second episode of The Magicians had higher ratings than the first, i.e., more people watching.

ITV's show with Penn & Teller, which was a one-off, had 4.5 million viewers (2 million less than The Magicians' first episode).
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/09/11 12:09 PM

Over on magicweek.co.uk, Duncan Trillo has a photo in the green room of all nine magicians:

Noel Qaulter, James More, Mike Vincent, Benjamin Earl, Damien, John Archer, Ali Cook, Richard Bellars, Morgan (of Morgan & West).

Which three didn't make it on the show?
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 01/09/11 12:42 PM

The third tweet down in the grab below might explain the reason for at least one of them.

[img:left]http://irishmagicnews.squarespace.com/storage/noeltwitter.jpg[/img]
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Postby El Mystico » 01/09/11 01:26 PM

The point about audience ratings being far more important than the views of a few jaded magicians is a fair one.

But it is worth pointing out that The Magicians is prime time Saturday night; Penn and Teller was at 9 pm on a Friday.

Also The Magicians is still up against rubbish.

But it is interesting that it got higher ratings than last week. That surprises me. Personally, I enjoyed show 2 more than show 1; but still far preferred the Penn and Teller show.
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Postby Ian Kendall » 01/09/11 02:00 PM

Noel, Damian and Rhys (Morgan) didn't make the cut.

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Postby Dick Koornwinder » 01/09/11 05:12 PM

This link worked for me in the Netherlands: http://www.novamov.com/video/iyua07uqyxz16
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Postby Don Hendrix » 01/09/11 05:44 PM

I tried the above link and found a Trojan virus instead of P and T. Fortunately, my virus protection detected it. Be very careful.
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 01/09/11 09:26 PM

Worked fine for me on a mac.
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Postby Nathan Allen » 01/10/11 03:48 PM

Worked fine for me, too.
And I'm a PC.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/11/11 10:25 AM

Worked for me here in the US on a Mac but it was very very slow to load.
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Postby Travis » 01/11/11 05:28 PM

Worked on my mac.

Great show. Cool concept. Benjamin Earl kicked my @ss! Loved Archer and Vincent, too.

I've got to believe the producers just wanted to have at least one big thing on the show, hence the performance of Andre Kole's "Squeeze Box". I appreciated all the positive comments. I would've expected that the guy who performed the Kole piece would realize that Copperfield does this same trick nightly for the last decade (at least) just around the corner from P&T. No doubt they're very familiar with it. In fact, his routine was almost exactly like Dave's, I thought. They pointed out that very few magicians give themselves something to do. Great point and something I've always said. It's also a point Jim Steinmeyer has made often. They also commented on the fact that he performed the effect on himself; also something rather popularized by David.

Too, I found it interesting that the first contestant's performance was almost identical (in props and choreography) to David Copperfield's performance of the same trick in the mid 80s. P&T said that they didn't think this had been performed by anyone in modern times. I'm surprised if they weren't familiar with Copperfield's version. Was this an available marketed item at one time (i.e., the particular apparatus, etc.)?

I found myself cringing a bit at the mention of gaffed decks, though I'm aware the public has general knowledge that such things exist (or, at least, some of them do). I was glad at other times they spoke in cloaked language and very happy that for the Squeeze Box Teller drew a picture which was only shown to the contestant.
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Postby Travis » 01/12/11 12:52 PM

Here's the clip of Copperfield performing the head-swapping bit with chicken and duck. The routine starts at the 5:20 mark:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSoSs2RNPJM
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/12/11 01:01 PM

advance to 5:20 for Poultry in Motion. :D
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Postby Travis » 01/12/11 01:20 PM

Thanks, Jonathan. Edited my post.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/13/11 01:01 PM

Here's the video of John Archer for anyone that hasn't seen the show yet: http://bit.ly/gykZxo
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/13/11 01:54 PM

In addition, I also found a clip of the other winner from the show, Benjamin Earl: http://bit.ly/gykZxo
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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 01/13/11 10:53 PM

thanks dodd
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/14/11 11:25 AM

My pleasure!

Here are some more:

Opening & P&T Perform: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRw69htzQnU

Michael Vincent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phg5NSg0V_E

Closing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsP7D2XoL0A
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/14/11 11:37 AM

Forgot to mention that Teller and Johnny Thompson talk a bit about Fool Us as well in my recent interview with them which you can find here: http://bit.ly/TTT201
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/20/11 11:06 AM

Magic Newswire wrote:My pleasure!

Here are some more:

Opening & P&T Perform: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRw69htzQnU

Michael Vincent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phg5NSg0V_E

Closing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsP7D2XoL0A



earlier someone wrote:
There's a difference between downloading pirated material, and simply watching something that's been posted on the internet. Don't compare the two.


As best I recall, when one watches a video from YouTube the file is cached on your local PC - so it is in essence downloaded. So if the item is posted without permission of the copyright holder - the net effect is the same.

That said, I wish Mr. Archer the best and found the show an easier watch than the "behind the mischief" of Derren Brown - not being a fan of false/forced intimacy here.

Kudos to P&T for coming off as in-character while doing a fine job of a talent show format where all the contestants were fine performers.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/20/11 01:18 PM

John Archer fans can legally purchase his new DVD set, "Further Education," and see a GREAT performance that includes the piece from this show and you'll learn how to do it. (Full review coming in the March issue of Genii.)

USA: http://www.alakazam.co.uk/

UK: http://www.alakazam.co.uk/
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/20/11 01:31 PM

I shared this elsewhere, but he talks about the show with me here as well: http://bit.ly/MNW203
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Postby Magic Newswire » 01/20/11 06:58 PM

The problem with the audio drop out of John Archer's interview on the Magic Newswire has been fixed and you can find the revised file on The Magic Newswire or listen to it here via the MP3. Links Follow::

MNW #203 With John Archer

Direct MP3 Link
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Postby poboymagic » 05/16/11 02:33 AM

What a great show. I loved the cell phone over the head routine.
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Postby AJM » 06/18/11 02:14 PM

P&T return to ITV this evening with a new series of 'Fool Us'.

Cheers

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Postby AJM » 06/20/11 03:52 PM

This weeks contestants were: -

High Jinx - young illusionists
Jon Allen - which paper bag has the sharp spike inside?
Graham Jolley - mentalism and card magic (this weeks winner)

Footage also of previous winners Ben Earl and Archer in Vegas

The show finished off with P&T performing the 'trash bag escape' for the first time on TV.

Compered once again by Jonathan Ross.

Cheers

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/20/11 05:12 PM

And how was the show?
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Postby AJM » 06/20/11 05:41 PM

I enjoyed the show very much - I understand there will be 6 shows in the series. The one hour show has an 8.00pm slot on ITV.

Anyone else catch it?

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Postby Oli Foster » 06/20/11 06:07 PM

I watched this and thought it was great! Really enjoyed seeing Penn and Teller's trash bag escape. Clever, but once you've concluded he can't escape from the bag, you're left with the solution (an example of the controversial 'too perfect' theory?)

Graham Jolley fooled the duo with a slick performance of Simon Aronson's Prior Commitment, which just shows what a great and un-workoutable trick this is, although I was surprised that neither of them had come across this principle (?) Maybe they just thought he was good and wanted to put him through...

Looking forward to seeing the rest of the series, as looks like they've got some cracking shows lined up. Marc Oberon's on one and he's always very good....
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 06/20/11 06:22 PM

The most recent episode (1 of the current series) has turned up on Youtube

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/20/11 06:30 PM

I wonder how long it will be until there's a show with no winner.
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Postby Marco Pusterla » 06/21/11 03:41 AM

I think (it's just me thinking... I may have heard it read it, don't take my comment as a matter of fact!) that all shows have already been taped. It is "just" a matter of editing together a show with three (or four) performers where nobody wins and that will satisfy Richard :)

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Postby Jonathan Pendragon » 06/22/11 04:41 AM

"We have met the enemy, and he is us."

When I was younger, I used to look at the elders of magic as a collection of calcified individuals who didn't keep up with current events. Now that I'm one of them, I take a dim view of such opinions.

I've always thought of Penn & Teller's work as nothing short of brilliant. Teller's miser's dream is the most beautiful piece of magic I've ever seen. In watching their British television show, I'm reminded of how amazing these guys are.

That said, I have a question which I'm asking not as a critique, but because I'm curious as to how other magicians feel about this subject: does the show put too much emphasis on method and, by doing so, reduce magic to a mere mind game?

I am one who truly believes that all things in show business are good things except boring things... and this show is anything but boring. So I feel a little guilty even contemplating this question. We all understand that if it wasn't entertaining (the Presentation) we'd flip the channel. And yet I wonder if this nuance of Presentation is lost on a lay audience? Are we setting ourselves up for an audience conditioned to see only Method?
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Postby Marco Pusterla » 06/22/11 07:59 AM

Jonathan,

Many years ago I heard Arturo de Ascanio contemplate this saying:

"90% of all magic is presentation; only 10% is technique"

(I'm trying to translate: with "technique" I mean the technical method, the "trick").

Well, Ascanio said that without that 10%, all your presentation would crumble down, you may be entertaining but not magical. As "Magicians" we should strive to present mystery. Mystery can be presented in an entertaining way, but if there is no mystery (i.e. everybody knows/understand how the "trick" works), then we would not be performing magic, but something else (juggling, comedy, anything...).

I believe that Presentation should be used as a further tool to cloack the method and as a way to help the audience to think along a different path.

My 2 cents...
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 06/22/11 08:33 AM

Those who read and study what's been written noticed the basic story elements and structure of stories about a century ago. The hero's tale and all that. Can we get up to speed on what the rest of the world learned last century or do we need another round of "as explained by a magician to magicians" works?

Our little subset of the theatrical arts has all of the other sciences, arts and crafts to draw from as regards the story we tell and the means we have to produce our wonders. What distinguises out subset is that we get to manipulate the audience's convictions about what is real and the bargain we make (ecological componant) is all such depictions are valid only within the scope of the performance - much as in the larger theater the story happens on the other side of the proscenium arch/inside the theater and the same players return the next night for another performance of Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, even be back at the end of the show to take a bow.

With that in mind in becomes odd to distinguish "presentation" from "method" in the magic catalog manner or copy writing when what we want is to distinguish the tale they tell from the means we use backstage to get that tale told. Audience view and view from the wings (or backstage) might be closer to correct IMHO.

two cents won't buy you a book on literary theory but add postage and you might get a bargain on ebaY.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 06/22/11 08:42 AM

Jonathan Pendragon wrote:"We have met the enemy, and he is us."

...
That said, I have a question which I'm asking not as a critique, but because I'm curious as to how other magicians feel about this subject: does the show put too much emphasis on method and, by doing so, reduce magic to a mere mind game? ...


IMHO this series has a different tone than the special from last year. The novelty was an additional dimension/focus of watching P&T react to the magic. Whether decieved or not they were genial and when conveying their findings they were clever about it - another nod to the audience about how our little world is different from just "tricks with methods" but modes of behavior as well.

I agree that the first show this series put a stress on the viewer and the methodology discussions were more direct. Though I can still recall Archer's eyes as P&T mulled the method to his trick with the envelopes - and marvelled at their approach to shifting focus back to the entertainment. IMHO they "get it" right on that basic level.

Jonathan, you might like Alan Moore's take on Pogo (Issue 34 of Swamp Thing - Pog)

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Postby Oli Foster » 06/22/11 03:52 PM

Jonathan's question is interesting about whether it's good for magic to put an emphasis on the method over the effect and how distinguishable those two things really are from each other.

I think the suspension of disbelief that goes on in a theatre is different to that in taking part in, say, close up magic but maybe almost similar to watching, say, copperfield present an illusion show that's tied together with stories. Going back to a previous conversation, I believe Houdin's spiel applied to Houdin's type of show, which was closer to the latter and isn't something that can be effectively squeezed into more modern performing conditions. (I know it's heretical, but, for all this, Secrets of Conjuring and Magic is still my favourite)

Alot of very eloquent things have subsequently been said about presentation and I would agree that the bulk of magic is the bluff and bits of business to cover the usually fairly transient and often almost unimportant method (think about directions like, execute 'your favourite' force/control etc). It is the sum of all the parts that go together like the set and lighting and lines and casting and acting of Romeo and Juliet and these individually unimportant elements collectively make us respond. People will say, "oh he was a great magician" and are unlikely to find the tricks impressive unless they are impressed by the man.

However, if we were particularly pretentious, we could say that magic is a 'postmodern' form of theatre, because one of the things that alot of these essays seem to skip over is that the audience are stepping through that proscenium arch, seeing the boards that stand as walls, the lighting scaffold and general poxiness of the backstage arena - and still responding - not in spite but BECAUSE of this. Because they are a part of it and precisely because they know that there is a method that they have been unable to detect for all their veiled cynicism. In reality, they are as interested in the method as we are and they are in on it from the get go.

It's probably controversial but I would say that the method is therefore the elephant in the room that alot of people gloss over and hope rather than believe people won't care about. We're conditioned to think that people shouldn't care about it apart from the magician - but think about your best reactions "How the hell did you do that!" Obviously they don't want you to actually say "look, I fooled you into looking over there while I was hiding it over here. How silly you are!" But that is, in reality what they are thinking on some level and, at that critical moment, when their mind goes blank, method is the only thing that fills it - and once that's out the way, it's just oblivion.

Interestingly, there is an opposite approach and funnily enough David Berglas springs to mind, as old school as he may seem. If he's doing what would otherwise be a card trick where you or I might lie about ambitious cards or libidinous jacks (?) and don't mention anything to do with the fact it's a trick, he plainly labours exactly what ISN'T happening so that the audience can fully appreciate exactly what IS happening.

If you think about it, this is what we're told not to do - not to state the obvious, not to say, look at this empty bag, even if it is legitimitely empty. It's the negative space, trying to make something that in reality works only because of very specific conditions, try to seem broad and universal - and the only way we can do this is, ironically, to address the fact it's a trick.

Finally, Penn and Teller are the prime examples of people who take this approach with their combination of mock up tricks and artistically stunning surprises. They treat their audience's cleverly by caring about and thereby anticipating what they think, so they make the perfect judges here and I think the concept's great - just not sure about Jonathan Ross. I think he thinks of magic as a grungy extension of his facial hair, something to give him cult appeal after his bizarrely mainstream appeal died with his BBC contract (somehow, the opposite seems to be happening for Russell Brand after 'sachsgate'!) My tuppence worth and probably enough pretentious b******s for all of us put together. Glad we got that out of the way, back on topic... ;)
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