Piff The Magic Dragon: No Eggs, Unturned.
Piff the Magic Dragon is a once in a lifetime experience. Before he was hatched as Piff in 2006, the man behind the dragon, John van der Put, studied Shakespeare and was a theatrical director. Performing magic in the UK, Piff’s incredibly sardonic personality was born. Opening for Mumford and Sons and appearing on season 10 of America’s Got Talent, as Piff, solidified this comedy/magic act as gold. Cantankerous with a definite slant on the world, Piff is refreshing, candid and amazing.
See him at The San Jose Improv on November 4th, 5th and 6th Tix here: http://tinyurl.com/zfnt9uv
Did you start off as a kid doing magic shows in England?
Basically, I did juggling. But I found that every time I would drop something it would ruin the act. So I moved on to magic, where if something went wrong I would just change the ending.
I really started doing magic shows at the university where I would earn enough money on the weekends, to stay at the university.
When you were on America’s Got Talent, did you know who Howie Mandel and Howard Stern were?
The reason I got on the show was Howard Stern. Britain’s Got Talent is a terrible show. America’s Got Talent has a bit more, credibility. And Howard Stern is cultural icon. When Heidi Klum likes something it has more credence to it, although her judging comedy is suspicious.
How did you move forward when so many others fail to make it?
When I get in front of people, in a stupid costume, it’s very memorable. I have a ridiculous dog who basically doesn’t do anything. At that point I just start messing around, so it’s just fighting for the airtime.
Do you get homesick?
I don’t really miss my friends or family. The UK is a bit pessimistic, I like the culture here. Out here there is still a sense that anything is possible. Before America’s Got Talent I did a mixed bill comedy and magic show in Vegas, Thursday through Sunday. After AGT, I said “Why don’t I do the mixed show Monday through Wednesday and the rest of the time I’ll play comedy clubs around the country?” I’ve been doing that for a year. That combination has really worked out well for me.
I imagine as a performer who relies on comedy it’s important to keep it fresh. David Blane and David Copperfield and Chris Angel are not funny. It would seem easier to replicate a straight magic show more like a Broadway play, but you’re constantly riffing with new people each show.
Playing tiny rooms and then doing the bigger shows is a good mix. If I try something new in a small room and it works, I know it will work on the bigger stage.
Are you a welcome member of the Magic Castle?
I’m not a member there actually.
Is there a community of magicians you hang out with?
I don’t really hang out with magicians. I became friends with Penn and Teller.
See. Because they’re funny.
The general community of magicians I tend to avoid.