After retiring this trick for a decade, I brought it back for Penn & Teller

I’ve written about how performing for "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" the first time changed my life, and I’ve told you about the three days leading up to this year’s performance. 

Now, without giving away too much, let me tell you a little bit about the trick I decided to perform this time, on Season 5. 

The effect is catching a selected playing card while the cards are falling down in a cascade that magicians call a "dribble."


I created it sometime around 2001 or 2002, specifically to mess with magicians. I performed it at my lectures in the US and at international magic conventions. 

I came up with many methods of achieving the same effect, some simple and clever, others more difficult. I liked the difficult method the most, and I decided it needed more practice, so I stopped performing the trick in my shows.

But I practiced it sporadically, when it came to mind, and would rarely do it for anyone else. It was both a frustrating effect and the most satisfying one when I would get it right. I stopped doing it because it brought me too much stress.

So why in the world would I want to perform it when I have just one chance to get it right, in front of Penn & Teller and millions of people watching it at home?

To be honest, I brought it out of retirement so that I could retire it again. 

It's the hardest trick I do. And I wanted to do it one time when it mattered most, so that I would never have to do it again. 

But then, during the 4 months I spent preparing for the filming, I discovered how much I really love this trick.

The process pushed me to work harder. I had a specific show-date (goal/target) to be ready for. I practiced daily, being accountable to a close group of friends that I was sharing the process with. And I started performing it in my regular dinner shows and at walk-around events

I also discovered that what helped me get it right was learning to meditate. Penn mentioned that he had been practicing meditating on one of his Penn Sunday School podcast episodes so I started using the Headspace app on my phone. 

I knew that when it mattered most, I would need to stay calm and relaxed, keep my breathing steady and my mind sharp and focused on the task at hand. 

Success in this effect relies on being present and being "at one" with the cards, if you will.

So I'm grateful, once again, to Penn & Teller, for pushing me to work harder than ever. Thanks for helping me discover how much more I am capable of when I have a clear goal before me.  

I hope you enjoy watching this as much as I enjoyed practicing and preparing for it. 

Catch it live on the CW this Monday, July 16 or watch it streaming on their website anytime after that.