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'Penn & Teller: Fool Us' recap: The best fooler yet

Season 2 | Episode 7 | “Penn’s Favorite Card Trick” | Aired Aug 17, 2015

Penn & Teller are fantastic at taking simple tricks and making them new and interesting, or at the very least, funny and refreshing. This week’s end-of-show trick was Penn’s Favorite Card Trick. To pull the trick off, Penn pulls up an audience member to play him in the trick. He gives the lucky audience member glasses and a Penn wig to wear, and a headset through which he feeds the volunteer lines to parrot back to the audience. The trick is simple on the face of it: Penn picks a card, tells it to the audience (and, consequently, Teller), and then Teller will find his card in the deck. It’s important to note that the card is the Queen of Hearts. Teller steps into a clear chamber that stands atop the fans and lets the cards blow in the wind. A curtain falls over the chamber, and when the cloth is lifted, it’s not Teller: It’s a beautiful woman dressed as, you guessed it, the Queen of Hearts.

It’s a fun trick and it integrates the audience participation magnificently. This week’s contestants were also, for the most part, experts at taking simple tricks and presenting them in refreshing, fun ways. One contestant didn’t do that, though. One contestant actually went full-on Teller and created his own trick to amazing, fooling effect. As usual, here are my rankings of this week’s illusions, from least to most magical.

Frederick Falk: Even Simon Pegg Couldn’t Save Him

Penn & Teller

The biggest (and really only) disappointment this week was Frederick Falk, a magician who prides himself on having created some kind of clock-master character to play on stage. But he didn’t seem to be playing a character at all, minus his old-timey costume. The best thing about his trick wasn’t even his doing. He asked host Jonathan Ross to help with his trick, and Jonathan deferred to a friend of his who was in the audience: Simon Pegg.

Yes, Simon Pegg was on stage helping with a magic trick. It was amazing, because Simon Pegg. Sadly, nothing else about the trick (which involved guessing the time on a watch that the audience was never shown until the time was set on the dial) was very impressive. The worst part? When Penn & Teller told him that they knew how the trick was done, Frederick hemmed and hawed and acted as though they maybe hadn’t guessed correctly. For the first time in my memory, the Fool Us tiebreaker judge had to step in. He ruled in favor of P&T (duh) and Frederick was dubbed a loser—and a sore one at that.

Chris Funk: The Musician MagicianPenn & Teller

Chris Funk had a pretty miraculous backstory. Usually, the intro videos on Fool Us are meh at best. Chris Funk’s intro video did two things: 1) It let the audience know that he injured his Achilles tendon during a previous magic trick (YES, it sounds like extreme magic), and he wasn’t supposed to walk again. He had only been mobile for three or four weeks before appearing on Fool Us. 2) It made him seem like kind of a jerk.

Luckily, Chris was anything but a jerk on stage. He had an amazing, quiet but authoritative presence, and a great presentation. He did a simple, classic trick (levitating cards), and integrated a violin and a musical element. The trick was good, but Chris’ personality is even better and really sells it. Bravo, sir.

Nate Dendy: The Silent Star

Penn & Teller

Nate Dendy was a delight. Part of his schtick is not speaking during his performance, just like Teller. He does a trick called the Confetti Trick, which involves putting four colors of confetti in a hat, all mixed up, and then magically pulling out each color one at a time. It’s a simple trick, but a beautiful one, and Nate’s performance was lovely. He was so full of energy and joy, and watching his trick felt like being transported back in time.

Penn & Teller easily guessed the trick, but what I really appreciated about Nate was that he had no qualms admitting the origins of his trick. Even as Penn & Teller were deliberating, he told Jonathan Ross that the trick was based on a classic trick, and that the original version used sand. He told Jonathan as much about the trick as P&T usually tell to prove that they know what’s happened. He seemed utterly unconcerned with fooling them, and perfectly content with putting on a great show. I loved it.

Kostya Kimlat: The Amazing Fooler

Penn & Teller

Finally, we have Kostya Kimlat, who fooled Penn & Teller. Not only did he fool them, but he fooled them up close. It’s always a little daring when a magician calls Penn and/or Teller (let’s face it: especially Teller) on stage to participate in the trick. Kostya’s trick involved a lot of shuffling of the deck of cards. The cards are shuffled and shuffled and reshuffled. Some cards are face up and some are face down. P&T help make sure they’re thoroughly mixed. Then, Penn and Teller each choose a card and, after showing the cards to everyone, put them back into the deck, which still features cards that are all facing different directions. Kostya straightens the deck and then, before he even does the reveal, Penn starts saying no. Kostya reveals that all of the cards are now facing the same direction—except, of course, the two chosen by P&T.

Penn was completely floored and pissed by how fooled he was. During deliberations, Kostya revealed to Jonathan that the trick was not based on any other he had seen and was, in fact, one of his own creation. In the end, he fooled both Penn & Teller, much to Penn’s (apparent and surely exaggerated) disdain, and to Teller’s delight. Something wonderful about this show is the look of joy on Teller’s face when he see a trick he doesn’t understand; this one delighted him (and the rest of us, of course).

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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