Photos and story by Reana Gibson/ Contributing Writer
On Friday evening, “America’s Got Talent” breakout star Piff the Magic Dragon performed in MTSU’s Tucker Theater.
Piff the Magic Dragon, whose real name is John Van der Put, rose to fame after appearing on Season 10 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” where he received a golden buzzer from guest-judge Neil Patrick Harris, which automatically allowed him to advance to the quarterfinals. Van der Put’s performance in the quarterfinals and the subsequent semifinals earned him enough votes to advance to the finals where he made it to the Top 10.
Prior to appearing on “America’s Got Talent,” Van der Put performed across the United Kingdom and Australia. To current date, the magician takes up residency in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he performs a stage show at The Flamingo’s Cabaret Venue. While performing, Van der Put wears a green and red dragon costume.
The show began at 7 p.m. with an audience member winning a set of Van der Put’s magic deck of cards and video of a brief history of Van der Put’s career.
“I’ve had Mr. Piffles for about eight years,” Van der Put said of his chihuahua that he uses in his act. “He’s about 10 years old now. I rescued him when he was two.”
For his first trick of the night, Van der Put requested $20 from a member of the audience. “Michael,” the owner of the $20 bill, was chosen and was asked to write his name on it. Van der Put then took the bill, folded it and turned it into a “Piff” $1 bill with his sidekick Mr. Piffles taking the place of Andrew Jackson. The trick was revisited later in the night when Van der Put would retrieve the original $20 bill from a banana given to Michael.
He introduced his assistant, showgirl Jade Simone and Mr. Piffles, “The World’s Only Magic Performing Chihuahua™,” for the next trick. The second trick required the assistance of an audience member. He called out a set of students and told them to stand. When he pointed to them, he would have them give their major. Once they were introduced, he had the crowd cheer for their favorite major, and the major with the loudest cheers was chosen to assist him for his next trick: retrieving a ring that Mr. Piffles ate. Van der Put had stated that the ring would need to be retrieved from the dog’s bowels. The ring was then retrieved from an egg.
Mr. Piffles’s turn came next when he “solved” a Rubik’s cube for the next trick. A new audience member was called to the stage to assist him. He “helped” the audience member solve the cube before a new audience member was called for the following trick: mind reading.
Van der Put subsequently performed several card tricks after Mr. Piffles’s successful “mind reading.” These tricks included retrieving a card from a “portal” and naming the cards that were handed out in the audience shortly before.
The night came to a close around 8:30 p.m. with Van der Put’s signature card-phase transformation trick. This trick was first performed on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” a magic competition TV show. This trick is what earned him the golden buzzer on “America’s Got Talent.” Van der Put is currently on tour across the United States and will begin a podcast called “PiffPod.”
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