The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

The magic tricks may be simple, but that's not to say they're easy to perform

Bunny and I watch “Fool Us,” a show where Penn & Teller showcase a number of magicians and try to figure out how the trick was performed. It's a cool show and we will often rewind bits (and again, and again) to see if we can spot the trick.

On the recent show we saw Wes Iseli whose trick with a single 50¢ piece fooled Penn & Teller. He walked out on stage, handed Alyson Hannigan (the hostess) a “prediction” for her to hold on to. He then had the entire audience stand up and had them call heads or tails as he flipped the 50¢ piece. After about ten flips, there was a single audience member left standing. Wes then asked Alyson to read the “prediction” he made, and it described the audience member left standing.

I think I know how it was done, and the only reason it fooled Penn & Teller was due to a bad guess on Penn's part (if they know of several ways a trick can be done, and they guess the wrong one, they're fooled). The thing about magic is that often times, the “trick” is so simple that once you know how it's done, it's like “that's it? That's how it was done?”

For instance, way back in the second season, Wes Barker did a trick where he speared a page from a phone book with a sword which fooled Penn & Teller. He recently revealed how he did the trick (because, as he stated, phone books don't exist anymore). The trick was stupidly simple and by overthinking the trick, Penn was fooled. Oh, and it was interesting to learn yet another method of tearing up a phone book (as if we'll ever have a phone book to rip up).

Another instance of a very simple method tricking Penn & Teller is a recent trick by Eric Leclerc. He did the “needle in a haystack” trick, but this time finding a marked packing peanut by Teller in a huge box of packing peanuts. And again, it was a very simple trick. It's amazing how simple these tricks really are. It's almost likey they're cheating. And in a way, I guess they are.

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