First of all, let me say BIG THANK YOU. It is an honor to be chosen by the producers to perform of the Penn & Teller stage for the filming of the third season of Penn & Teller: Fool Us. Thank you to everyone who was involved, from my first email (from Darren asking me if I’d like to audition) to the CW network and everyone in between. All of you were amazing to work with.
Now here’s my story, I’ll try to keep it short:
In January 2015, I received (much to my surprise) an unsolicited email from Penn & Teller: Fool US casting department asking me if I’d be interested in auditioning for season 2. I had seen bits from the first season but really didn’t know much about the show. But hey, this is Penn & Teller, right? This would be a great opportunity for me to finally appear on a nationally televised program.
I sent them a video of one of my routines and waited to hear more. I got as far as them asking when in April I would be available during the filming dates, but then I didn’t hear any more. April came and went. I’d be remiss to say I wasn’t disappointed, I was.
In November 2015, I received another email letting me know the show had been picked up for a 3rd season and they wanted me to audition again. This time, instead of only sending one routine, I sent them two to choose from and proceeded to wait until after the holidays to reach out to them again.
In early January, I contacted the casting department asking for an update and was told I was on their list of people to call by the end of the following week. Roughly two weeks later, my phone buzzed and it was two of the producers, Andrew and Lincoln. I was unable to take their call at that time because I was about to perform. We arranged to speak the next day.
During the call the next day with two of the producers, (who were super nice) we talked about many things including – how they found me, what they liked about the two audition pieces, and what the show was really about.
How did they find me to begin with? This was a burning question for me, because even though I have been a professional entertainer since 1997, I’m relatively an unknown. By that I mean, I don’t regularly attend local club meetings or conventions because I’m usually working. They found me because they had heard that there was “another” magician by the name of Chris Rose. Then, they looked me up, liked what they saw, and reached out.
What is the show really all about? “Although there is a “to fool or not to fool” Penn and Teller element to the format, above all, “Fool Us” was created as a celebration of magic. This is what is most important to P&T and the production – providing a prime time network showcase for magic in all its forms.” [Darren – Fool Us Casting Dept. ]
They liked both of my audition pieces for very different reasons. The short answer is: one was “gross”, the other was “wholesome”, and both would make for good TV. However, I was challenged to combine both my audition routines into one. 12 minutes worth of material squished down into less than 5 minutes. I really didn’t know how I was going to do that, but I was excited to step up to the challenge.
Since I tend to brainstorm aloud, I needed a sounding board to work this through. I reached out to several friends and family members. Sidebar: I have amazing friends! A special thank you to Michael Fisher and Justin Scott, who were willing to put up with my relentless calls and questions. You handled it all with the grace of a saint. Through a ton of brainstorming and experimentation, the routine started to come together. I filmed a very rough version of the new routine and sent it off to the producers.
A week or so later, I had another phone conversation with the producers. I expressed some concern with some of the logic in the new script and asked them to review the tape and let me know their thoughts. I also told them I was going to stop all rehearsals until they told me which direction they wanted me to go, that way I wouldn’t get into muscle memory.
On Friday, April 1, 2016, I received an email that would change the course of my life for the next 8 days and arguably my career. The email read: “Congratulations, we would like to officially book you to appear on Season 3 of Penn & Teller: Fool Us, filming this April at the Rio Suites Hotel in Las Vegas.”
I went NUMB from the excitement! In fact, it took me a little bit to actually wrap my head around what just happened.
I replied to the email and happily accepted the invitation. Then the floodgates opened. I received over a dozen emails and several phone calls within the next few hours. Everything from travel arrangements, to release forms, prop requests and a phone call with the director for my interview and b-roll packages.
Later, I got a call asking me if I could be in Las Vegas on Tuesday (4 days away). Yes, please! My agenda was: Tuesday: arrive. Wednesday: Interview, B-reel, and offsite rehearsal. Friday: Tech rehearsal and live taping.