Piff the Magic Dragon is the character creation of comic magician, John van der Put. Since first appearing at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009 at a Free Fringe venue, Piff and his Chihuahua sidekick, Mister Piffles have become famous. (They enjoyed a good run on US TV’s America’s Got Talent and went on to land a residency in Vegas, working with Penn and Teller.)
The conceit is simple: Piff is an irritable dragon that does magic
The conceit is simple. Piff is an irritable dragon that does magic. Often, at least initially, tricks go wrong, leading the dragon to get grumpier and blame the dog. Of course, this is all played for laughs and serve to disguise the real magic trick, which is usually stunning.
A few audience members were visibly concerned when Mister Piffles got shot out of a cannon - one of many magical yarns at the cute wee dog’s expense. It was impressive, but it was also a stunt, and the dog was fine. Van der Put is simply very good at what he does, equally adept at large scale tricks and close up card magic. Nor is he afraid to improvise; he has the assured touch of a professional stand up when bantering with the crowd.
His signature piece, as seen on Penn & Teller’s Fool Me TV show, where he changes a signed playing card to another – whist the moniker remains – is even more impressive when seen live. It may not have fooled Penn & Teller, but I don’t know how on earth he does it.
Van der Put has been described as a grumpy Tommy Cooper in a dragon outfit. The truth is, Piff the Magic Dragon is an act unlike any other. If you enjoy superior magic with a good dose of humour, this show is for you.