Sunday, August 30, 2015

TV: Penn & Teller - Fool Us

I've long been a fan of the libertarian comedy-magic stylings of Penn & Teller, and their new show, "Fool Us," has the most intriguing premise in televised magic since "Breaking the Magician's Code":

Every episode, several professional magicians perform a routine live in front of Penn & Teller (as well as a packed auditorium at the Rio in Las Vegas). After the performance is finished, Penn & Teller try to figure out how the trick was done. If they can, they drop hints and references to the magician indicating as much; if they can't, the magician is invited to perform as Penn & Teller's opening act. Finally, at the end of each show, Penn & Teller perform one of their own tricks for the audience.

I think "Fool Us" is a hit because it isn't a reality show competition, like you might expect. Instead, Penn & Teller treat the show as an opportunity to showcase the art and craft of magic. All of the performers are professional magicians, some of them nearly as famous as Penn & Teller (Mac King did a routine, for instance), and by keeping the quality of the magic high, the show is more intriguing than if there were a bunch of amateurs onstage. You'll see some truly wondrous things, like this performance from FISM World Champion Shin Lim (easily one of the most astounding things I've seen on TV):


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