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Fool me once...
July 7, 2011 7:24 PM   Subscribe

Penn & Teller are fooled not by the performance of Ali Cook, but by mistaking his trick for being original.
posted by MrChowWow (70 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aw, come on, everyone knows that trick dates back to the ancient Egyptians, the great Didi did it.
posted by Xoebe at 7:37 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow! Looked at both videos and Cook just ripped off Copperfiield''s '88 down to the motions and little dancesteps. Amazing plagiarism there.

So can you tell us who discovered this rip-off first?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 7:40 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not only does he change their heads but their feet also.
posted by pianomover at 7:40 PM on July 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was in Las Vegas the first weekend in June and we went to see Penn & Teller at the Rio. Good show. A little preachy at times, but there were some tricks that managed to fool me and my 2 friends (3 engineers total :). Plus, both Penn and Teller were kind enough to stand outside after the show and take pictures/autographs for everyone who wanted one.

Anyway, to my point... after the Penn & Teller act they had the two magicians from this UK show who managed to fool them. John Archer was really a great showman. Lots of funny banter and some neat tricks. The envelop trick was a little odd in that I didn't realize immediately what the trick was. But the whole setup and performance of it was very amusing.

Benjamin Earl, less so. But I think that's just because card tricks and close up magic aren't much my thing.
posted by sbutler at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2011


OP here. I just remembered the original after an evening of watching the "Fool Us". I used to work at a magic store in the early 90s and was a fan before that. The recall is mine.
posted by MrChowWow at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


I think this version of the background music might have fit better.
posted by MrFTBN at 7:46 PM on July 7, 2011


I'm shocked at how cynical you guys all are. I mean, really. So he doesn't actually put a duck's head on a chicken, and visa versa? Pfft.
posted by crunchland at 7:49 PM on July 7, 2011


That is quite a spectacular pair of pants Mr. Copperfield has on there. The trick with the duck and chicken was just an afterthought.
posted by phunniemee at 7:49 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've always wanted to do a show that's just the dance moves of David Copperfield. That's where the real magic is.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:55 PM on July 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Excellent find, MrChowWow!
posted by BeerFilter at 7:55 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm shocked at how cynical you guys all are. I mean, really. So he doesn't actually put a duck's head on a chicken, and visa versa? Pfft.

No, you're missing the point. If you watch both videos, you'll see that Cook blatantly plagiarized David Blane's original trick even while claiming it to be original and new.
posted by NipplesOfTheFuture at 8:05 PM on July 7, 2011


Not only does he change their heads but their feet also.

And their bodies and species. Still would work well enough at stage distance I suppose.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:06 PM on July 7, 2011


One more time.
posted by tamitang at 8:07 PM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


So where is the link explaining how the trick is done?
posted by thescientificmethhead at 8:10 PM on July 7, 2011


Pretty certain this trick was first perfected by Doug Henning.
posted by barrett caulk at 8:10 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


So where is the link explaining how the trick is done?

Link? It was magic.
posted by dobbs at 8:13 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aw, come on, everyone knows that trick dates back to the ancient Egyptians, the great Didi did it.

Apropos of the South Park thread below this one - Damnit! What didn't Didi do!?
posted by MrFTBN at 8:15 PM on July 7, 2011


The trick is old, and magicians always dance, and there are only so many dance moves you can do with a bird in your hand. Stop making such a fuss.

How was the trick done? When we looked elsewhere, the assistance replaced the birds with puppets.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:17 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was magic.

No, it was an illusion!
posted by thescientificmethhead at 8:18 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's really quite obvious in the Cook video if you pay attention to the size of the duck's eyes.
posted by emelenjr at 8:27 PM on July 7, 2011


Having now watched all three versions, yeah, it's obvious how it is done - and it didn't "fool" Penn and Teller, either (he says Cook "blew them away" but not that they were fooled). However, Penn saying that no one does the trick is highly suspect, and obviously Cook shouldn't have claimed it was an original trick with him.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:33 PM on July 7, 2011


barret caulk, don't you mean Duck Henning?
posted by erniepan at 8:40 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, for those of us who aren't James Randi: David Blaine's Chicken Illusion
posted by thescientificmethhead at 8:43 PM on July 7, 2011


Copperfield does the trick so much better... the assistants are much smoother with the head change, and the puppetry is much more natural. Cook has the duck head dance around to the music, it's just stupidly obvious.

The Copperfield one was obvious, too, but not because of his ineptitude. Cool illusion.
posted by Huck500 at 8:46 PM on July 7, 2011


For anyone else: It's skillful puppetry.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:50 PM on July 7, 2011


So who's got an in with P&T to show 'em this thread?
posted by BeerFilter at 8:52 PM on July 7, 2011


So, for the head change it is skillful puppetry, and then for the final reveal it's half-breed birds?
posted by thescientificmethhead at 8:56 PM on July 7, 2011


Exactly. The whole key is a hideous scientific experiment.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:00 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look at the feet, thescientificmethhead. Look at the feet.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:00 PM on July 7, 2011


half-breed birds?

Painted half-breed birds.
posted by Huck500 at 9:06 PM on July 7, 2011


I didn't look at much of the stuff beforehand and... I dunno, maybe it was that I had the sound off when I watched it so couldn't be distracted by the banter, but at the end, all I could think was, that's clearly just a white duck with a brown body, and a white chicken with a brown head.

The part that amuses/amazes me is that the fowl in both videos are so agreeable.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:25 PM on July 7, 2011


If you like magic the whole show in the first link is well worth watching. There's some really excellent sleight of hand by a close up magician later on.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 10:05 PM on July 7, 2011


So who's got an in with P&T to show 'em this thread?

Ugh, the last thing we need is mefi's own Penn.
posted by mrnutty at 10:22 PM on July 7, 2011


And mefi's own Teller would be tough to distinguish from a lurker.
posted by rube goldberg at 10:30 PM on July 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


I question the parentage of that chicken and that duck.
posted by not_on_display at 10:31 PM on July 7, 2011


sǝʎ 'ʎuooɹɐɥɔʇıʍs ǝloǝɥʇ
posted by clavdivs at 10:38 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Ugh, the last thing we need is mefi's own Penn.

And now you know what happened to Paphnuty.
posted by loquacious at 10:39 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"How much do I owe Derby Dan?"
posted by clavdivs at 11:02 PM on July 7, 2011


It is known as the world's first magic trick on record. here's a magician performing it on QI, while Daniel Radcliffe earns points for knowing all about Dedi, the first magician, and how he would behead live birds and then put their heads back on in order to entertain the pharaohs.

(Radcliffe is then be-headed at the end of this episode of QI. Previously.)
posted by tzikeh at 11:04 PM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


And the dude actually has the chutzpah to say, of all things, that he wanted to do something "no one has seen before."
posted by jeremy b at 11:24 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't plagiarism practically a tradition in the "magic" business? Doesn't that kind of fall under the category of sleight of hand?
posted by Mooseli at 12:44 AM on July 8, 2011


Cook seems at least reasonably careful with his choice of words. He doesn't claim to have invented it, only that it's something that (most? many?) people have never seen, and that nobody (very few people?) currently performs it. Excellent job finding the Copperfield clip, though, and it's delightful watching P&T's expressions during the performance, as they are truly enjoying it. When I was really into magic as a hobby, I tended to get a bit cynical, trying to figure out tricks as they were happening, and forgetting to just enjoy the moment. Since then I've tried to be careful save the analysis for afterwords, and just let myself enjoy the trick.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:03 AM on July 8, 2011


This post is pretty mean-spirited. Penn and Teller make it clear they know it's not original, and Cook never once claims to have invented it. He says:

"I think I'm the only person who does this trick." (He places a strong emphasis on 'think', and sounds a little unsure. He then goes to say that he's amazed by this, because it's such a great act. In other words, 'this isn't a secret, and I'm not sure why everybody isn't doing it.')

"I just wanted to do something that noone's seen." If the most recent performance you can find is from more than 20 years ago in another country - AND IF PENN AND FUCKING TELLER SAY THEY HAVEN'T SEEN IT, AND THEY THINK NOBODY IS DOING IT - then the chances are pretty bloody good he was right.

Finally, his delivery is absolutely nothing like Copperfield's. The mood, the timing, nothing. I do the same dancing shtick with my cat - am I ripping off Copperfield too?

you'll see that Cook blatantly plagiarized David Blane's original trick even while claiming it to be original and new.

So your trick is pulling stuff out of your arse, then? Please - links to the parts of the video where he uses either of those words to describe the trick (or at all, for that matter).
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:28 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pulling back a bit, Fool Us is a great show and a clever new format for TV magic. This blindfolded royal-flush is lovely, and Penn's explanation of it is wonderful.
posted by Hogshead at 3:03 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do the same dancing shtick with my cat

YouTube links plz
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 4:12 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


No, you're missing the point. If you watch both videos, you'll see that Cook blatantly plagiarized David Blane's original trick even while claiming it to be original and new. --- As if that's never happened before in the history of magic, even if what you say was remotely true (disregarding the mixup with David Copperfield and David Blaine).
posted by crunchland at 4:29 AM on July 8, 2011


A good place to post this Teller Speaks video. Which not only reveals his voice, but also the depth of their understanding of the psychology of magic. (Actually starts around 1:30)
posted by DU at 4:39 AM on July 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


That's nothing. This guy totally stole my act.
posted by Optamystic at 4:39 AM on July 8, 2011


David Copperfield does magic in his shows? I thought it was all just "after these messages, David Copeperfield will lead to another commercial!"
posted by DU at 4:45 AM on July 8, 2011


I love magic tricks like this, regardless of if they are new or not. I've always wanted to learn to do some myself, but magic tricks seem to be the last closely guarded secret on the Internet. Whenever I look up how to do anything more than basic kid tricks, I am presented with links to buy this book or to buy that magic set.

Are there any sites on the net that have a good selection of teachable magic tricks? I know there are a handful of "trick revelaed"-type sites, but I am more interested in how to do the set-up through the finale, so that I could replicate them.
posted by chrisph at 6:18 AM on July 8, 2011


Are there any sites on the net that have a good selection of teachable magic tricks? I know there are a handful of "trick revelaed"-type sites, but I am more interested in how to do the set-up through the finale, so that I could replicate them.

Penn and Teller actually have a lot of "how to" videos floating around the internet.
posted by odinsdream at 7:01 AM on July 8, 2011


Are there any sites on the net that have a good selection of teachable magic tricks?

Lots, but. The key to a good magic trick isn't knowing how the trick is done, it is practice practice practice. You are going to be spending hours and hours practicing your palming, false shuffling, naturalness of card forces, etc. The source is far less important than the practicing.

I walk around with largish coins (English penny, etc) in my pocket so I can practice palming at odd moments. I'm pretty terrible still, but my 10 year old is getting pretty good with a quarter. Probably he has more free time.
posted by DU at 7:14 AM on July 8, 2011


I normally can't stand Penn & Teller (especially that smug, jerk Penn). However, I've been really impressed by the generosity of spirit they show to the magicians. They take pains to compliment the magicians in meaningful ways and P&T show them the courtesy of not revealing how the trick is done while making it clear that they know very well how the trick is done.
posted by oddman at 7:22 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


chisph -- DU is right. If you look closely, and repeatedly, at the blindfolded royal flush video that Hogshead posted, you can see that he does some sort of bottom deal for the cards he chooses. The mechanics of bottom dealing is no big thing. Being able to do it quickly, smoothly and convincingly is "magic."

Here is a brilliant Tony Slydini (got to love the name, but he is considered on of the best close up magicians ever) bit where he "reveals" the magic. It looks simple and a bit silly from the outside -- at times he literally just throws the paper wads away -- but to the audience member it is all a mystery.
posted by rtimmel at 8:04 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pulling back a bit, Fool Us is a great show and a clever new format for TV magic.

Agreed, it is a great show. The way Penn and Teller are able to tell a magician that they know how a trick is done without telling how it is done is fantastic.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:20 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty certain this trick was first perfected by Doug Henning.

Oh, man--what happened to that guy?
posted by Hoopo at 8:39 AM on July 8, 2011


you can see that he does some sort of bottom deal for the cards he chooses

In particular examine the closeup at around 3 minutes in—you can see him placing his own cards onto the bottom of the deck. (There's a little crack where his cards are askew for a bit, before he gets them straightened out.) Presumably he knew what brand of cards would be in use?
posted by kenko at 8:40 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this show available anywhere in America? I've been enjoying YouTube clips but I'd love to see it in high quality, in its entirety.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:08 AM on July 8, 2011


   Pretty certain this trick was first perfected by Doug Henning.

Oh, man--what happened to that guy?


Tripping down memory lane myself: what the fuck's up with his "magic hands"? I suppose making mystical gestures for photos is the magicians equivalent of the menacing boxer's pose, but damn that middle finger is consistent...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:46 AM on July 8, 2011


Presumably he knew what brand of cards would be in use?

On the second watching, I noticed exactly the same crack. I mentioned it to my magic geek son and then I realized the same problem: card backs. However, if you watch a little earlier, he's standing with his hands below the table height. He's probably stashed a bunch of cards under there with different backs and picks a matching one. That may be simplified by some prior, unmentioned arrangment that they be Bicycle cards, for instance.
posted by DU at 11:23 AM on July 8, 2011


I know that a some people get really obsessive about the various thicknesses, coatings, etc of different playing cards, and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of that group includes magicians. Given that context, specifying that you'd like them to bring a deck of standard Bicycle cards wouldn't be too unusual, and at that point you'd only need to pull red or blue.

I can't imagine a competent magician would leave it to chance by not specifying brand, at least.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 11:54 AM on July 8, 2011


Re: Blindfolded Royal Flush. As with any magic trick, there's a lot we don't know. It's possible that P & T were merely asked to pick a deck out of a pile of sealed playing cards (all being red bicycle decks) and "bring one" to their seats, and henceforth onto the stage. The performer could truthfully say "you were asked to bring a deck of cards" and P&T would obligingly agree.

It's also possible that a bicycle deck was chosen at random by P&T because they are much more difficult to false-deal with, versus a Bee Deck, for instance. The performer figured as much, so at that point, all he had to do was get the color right. (but yeah, that still leaves some chance, or at least requires him to palm his chosen cards surreptitiously from under the table, which would immediately alert P&T what he was up to.) Possibly this could be addressed by using his right or left hand (one red, one blue) but that too seems unlikely.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:28 PM on July 8, 2011


or at least requires him to palm his chosen cards surreptitiously from under the table

He did have his left arm just dangling down there when he accepted the deck from Penn. That was after he'd already seen what kind of deck it was.
posted by kenko at 2:16 PM on July 8, 2011


Yes, he most definitely had the cards palmed under the table, and introduced them to the bottom of the deck as he squared them up, while asking (somewhat redundantly) whether the cards were indeed face down in his hand.

The question remains how he was able to "guess" the correct brand & color of cards.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:35 PM on July 8, 2011


Oh, man--what happened to that guy? --- Did he really just say "Seven thousand yogic fliers can create a perfect government?"
posted by crunchland at 2:52 PM on July 8, 2011


The question remains how he was able to "guess" the correct brand & color of cards.

They brought out the cards before applying the blindfold.
posted by DU at 4:54 PM on July 8, 2011


I would've used my Looney Tunes deck just to screw with him.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 6:10 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


They brought out the cards before applying the blindfold

Right, but did he have each color of each possible brand of playing cards under the table? Or did he somehow "force" them to choose a bicycle deck?
posted by ShutterBun at 7:11 AM on July 9, 2011


ulling back a bit, Fool Us is a great show and a clever new format for TV magic. This blindfolded royal-flush is lovely, and Penn's explanation of it is wonderful.

I'm confused. Unless I'm mistaken, Penn didn't explain anything, but rather just noted that the trick was done as well as he'd ever seen it done?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:30 PM on July 9, 2011


Yeah, that's about right. You had to wait and read here for people to spoil the illusion.
posted by crunchland at 4:40 PM on July 9, 2011


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