Tag Archives: mike weatherford

Penn & Teller now play mentor

The pinstriped business suits have gone from hipster-ironic to age-appropriate. But Penn & Teller still wear them well, as the onetime upstarts of magic become its gatekeepers.

The rebels who pumped fresh (stage) blood into a tired form in the ’80s are now a more direct version of magic’s quality police, playing the mentors on two current TV shows.

“Penn & Teller: Fool Us” is a British import now airing on The CW, in which less-famous magicians try to pull off a trick the duo can’t figure out. And this week, Syfy began airing “Wizard Wars,” in which the two judge magic’s version of a cooking contest, with young magicians developing new tricks from a list of common ingredients.

Both shows are among the ever-flowing books, movies, TV guest shots and punditry (for Penn Jillette) that made the duo’s Rio show more popular than ever. (Along with the new TV shows, Showtime still reruns their “Bullsh*t” every Thursday, and Jillette hosts “Camp Stew” on the Sportsman Channel.)

If everything about their career has been slightly out of kilter, there’s a cool irony to them doing peak business after 20 years in town.

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‘Magia’ briefly brings diversity to Vegas magic scene

Las Vegas is the magic capital of the world, but its magicians don’t represent the world’s diversity.

Reynold Alexander is out to change that with “Magia,” scheduled to run at The Clarion through July 20. The Puerto Rican magician, billed as “the greatest Latino illusionist of all time,” performed his first round of shows in English. But he is tire-kicking the idea of designated shows in Spanish or doing every show bilingually, translating himself onstage.

If he can draw out a new audience, it will have less to do with his magic and more because it feels a stronger kinship with him than with all the Strip’s whitebread guys.

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Give conjurers random props, set the clock, and … Presto!

It’s clearly not about production values, as a hand-held camera follows four magicians around the interior of your standard-issue Las Vegas apartment.

And the concept is familiar, too, at least if you ever watch the Food Network’s “Chopped.” The magicians are split into teams and given random items from a dollar store — chopsticks, a plastic orange — that they use to create illusions and perform them in front of hypercritical judges.

But “Wizard Wars” has the potential to bring good news on two fronts….

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