April 5, 2024

Penn & Teller Fool Us Part 2

by Jason Alan

I’m writing this as our ship passes by Cuba.  Working on a cruise ship has allowed Stacy and I to explore the world while at the same time miss out on many opportunities at home.  Tonight, our episode of Fool Us will air while we are sitting on a plane on our way back home.  I honestly wish we were able to watch this with our friends and family.  

That’s where I want to start today, with friends and family.  So many of our family members have been very supportive of our career choice.  I remember my parents asking me if I really wanted to be a magician.  When I said yes, my Dad immediately began helping me build illusions for my act.   

Jason and James Greenamyer

So.. what does this have to do with our episode of Fool Us?  As I mentioned in my last post, we rarely throw a trick into our show without practicing it first.  Typically after creating a new trick we will head out to Open Mic nights around Cleveland and Akron, testing it on unsuspecting audiences.  The problem with our Fool Us trick, we didn’t have the time to do so.  

The Friday before we left for Vegas, I called my cousin Steve and asked for help. Would he be able to round up enough friends who would be interested in seeing our new trick firsthand?  Within minutes we had a few dozen people interested in helping.  

Stacy and I drove down to my hometown of Salem, Ohio and got to work.  We had groups of two come into an undisclosed location and act like Penn & Teller.  We would perform our trick, ask questions, take notes and send them on their way.  This happened every 20 minutes for 7 hours straight.  

Salem, Ohio Jason Alan Greenamyer

This repetition was hugely important to our act.  With every performance we were able to see what worked and what didn’t.  When you create a new trick in your mind you envision it working a specific way.  When you add people to the mix, things change quickly.  If it weren’t for the people of Salem, I don’t think we would have ended up with what we did.  

Our flight was scheduled to leave early on Monday morning so the weekend before was more than tense. Nervous that our trick wouldn’t make it to Vegas we tripled our chances by making 3 of everything.  I had one version in my bag, Stacy had another and we had a backup in our checked bag.  We weren’t going to mess this up.  

When we landed in Vegas on Monday, we had 4 days before we filmed our episode.  We spent this time working with the production team, talking to the prop guys, filming our intro video and rehearsing our trick.  

Performing a magic trick in front of an audience is natural to me, filming an intro video where we talk about ourselves, not so much.  Neither Stacy or I are fans of talking about ourselves directly into a camera, but this was a different experience.  Besides the main trick we performed on stage we had to gather a handful of small visual tricks to show off our skills.  Never in my life would I imagine being on the top floor of a Vegas hotel showing off my sleight of hand.  

The Rio Las Vegas

The hardest part about the entire experience was the waiting game.  With 4 days before filming, you would think we would go out and explore the town.  That was the plan if it wasn’t 120 degrees by 10am.  Each morning, we would wake up at 5am, walk around the strip and rehearse our lines.  We were the only people waking up before noon in the city of lights.  

Finally, after days of waiting it was our turn to try and fool the boys. Prior to your performance you are brought down to an area below the stage along with a handful of other magicians.  Standing below and hearing the crowd above was the most surreal experience I’ve ever had.  To my left are some of the greatest magicians of our time, to my right props from P & T’s live show.  What in the hell are we doing here.  

The remainder of the evening is a complete blur.  3 years ago, when we were first on Fool Us we were unable to use anyone on stage due to Covid.  This time, we had full access and we decided to go right at the boys.  We were going to bring P & T on stage and try to fool them up close and personal.  If I’m being honest, I don’t remember much once we began.  Here I was standing next to Teller while Stacy was performing a trick for Penn. I think I blacked out. 

Penn & Teller with Jason and Stacy Alan Cleveland Magicians

So, this is where I leave you.  I can’t tell you if we Fooled them or not, if the trick went well or not, but I can tell you that I’m proud of what we came up with.  One of our main goals was to do something that P & T would look at and enjoy.  Something that they could say, “Well that’s original” and I think we accomplished that.  So please, tune in on April 5th at 8pm eastern time and enjoy.  Until then... see you on the other side.  

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