Anthony Dempsey on "Penn & Teller: Fool Us"
Updated: Nov 22
As I'm sure you can imagine, putting a magic trick on television requires a lot of preparation, planning, and practice. That's why I decided to share my experience of how I came to be on the television show "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" so that if anyone reading this is interested in being on the show, they'll know what to expect. It was such an honor to be part of the show, and I wouldn't change any of it!
The Genesis of a Trick
Our adventure began in July 2021 with a spark of creativity that led us to brainstorm an unusual trick. By July 2022, we sought an expert to craft the essential elements of our trick, graduating from homemade prototypes to professional-grade props. Rigorous practice sessions started in August, with Grandma joining in by October, offering her insight and charm. February 2023 brought the arrival of the fully finished props. We began to intensify our rehearsals to perfect our submission video.
The Call to the Stage
In early March 2023, the gears of our magical journey began to turn faster. After submitting our act on March 7th, we were on pins and needles for a few days until the show's producers acknowledged they had received our submission. This small nod was the first of many interactions. A month later, on April 6th, our excitement grew as they reached out, expressing interest and requesting a script while providing a glimpse into their filming schedule, a pivotal moment that hinted at the reality of us appearing on the show. As May blossomed, so did our dream; a call on May 7th invited a deeper discussion about the trick’s inner workings and the story behind it. This led to us sending a comprehensive explanation and a full script, laying out all the details of the trick.
Mid-May felt like a crescendo of anticipation: on the 15th, we received the golden ticket - official confirmation of our appearance on the show. This was swiftly followed by a flurry of paperwork, contracts, and the meticulous planning of our journey.
June brought with it a script revision, a tangible sign of our act taking shape within the show's framework. The early days of July were a hive of activity: a pivotal Zoom call on the 6th with the production team resulted in performance adjustments and invaluable advice.
By July 10th, the tangible aspects of our performance were in focus as we browsed a catalog of available props, tables, and chairs. Three days later, a conversation with the intro segment producer honed the narrative we would present. It was decided that the initial direction, which emphasized my corporate engagements, would be swapped for a more intriguing angle centered on my spooky collection.
As time went on, we fine-tuned our routine, mindful of the precise heights of tables and chairs. This meticulous preparation was critical for the seamless execution of our performance.
As the end of July approached, the focus shifted to the finer details of our appearance on "Penn & Teller: Fool Us." The production team provided guidance on what to pack, ensuring that our attire would be just right for the show. The following day, we were tasked with devising five talking points for our post-performance interaction with Brooke Burke, an opportunity to add depth and personality to our televised moment.
Viva Las Vegas
Before leaving for Vegas, I had three back to back shows that were plagued by overly loud DJs. My voice was almost totally shot. Our journey to Las Vegas began on August 7th. The Las Vegas chapter of our story was a blend of excitement and challenges. We arrived, vocal cords strained from those three prior shows, relying on hot lemon and honey remedies. The next day, we filmed our interview package, stepping into the media side of magic. It became even more real- Anthony Dempsey on Fool Us!
On August 9th, we had our final rehearsal and would later film in front of the live audience. Despite a broken prop and my mouth being as dry as a desert, we delivered our trick with gusto. Our performance was met with laughter and admiration, from the crew to the audience. Post-performance, we basked in the praise from the crew, who found our act to be one of the funniest of the season. Our Fool Us journey culminated in a backstage visit from Teller himself, who applauded our originality. The outpouring of love from the audience and the affirmations of the crew left us with a profound sense of accomplishment. As we exited the stage, the idea that we were part of a legacy began to take root.
On November 3rd, our episode aired, immortalizing our experience on national television. The laughter, the applause, and the surreal feeling of performing before legends were now shared with viewers everywhere, marking the end of an extraordinary (and stressful) chapter in our magical journey. I unfortunately wasn't able to watch it live because I had already booked a performance long before I knew the date it would air. But my family had a little watch party and I saw excited text messages pop up on my Apple Watch during my performance. I was finally able to watch it later that night!
What a crazy, fun ride it's been! I'm so happy to have gotten the opportunity to be a part of a show that I've watched so many times, in front of Penn & Teller- legendary performers whom I've admired for years. This is just the start of my journey of creating unique tricks for television. Stay tuned for what's coming next!