Penn and Teller Masterclass Review in 2024 Worth it? Legit?

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Ever since I was a kid, magic has held a special place in my heart. Birthday parties were only fun (for me) if a magician pulled scarve after scarves from a tiny hat, and I spent my nights huddled around the TV, amazed by Penn and Teller’s outrageous illusions. Witnessing their mastery of deception left me awed by the art of magic. I’d spend hours practicing card tricks in front of the mirror, desperately trying to recreate what I saw. But the “hows” always remained a mystery, a mysterious secret locked away in the minds of these legendary illusionists.

But finally, today, I have found a way to unlock those secrets, which has me bouncing excitedly. Penn and Teller’s MasterClass teaches the Art of Magic, which is not just a class but a chance to learn directly from the masters themselves.

But it’s expected to wonder if it’s too good to be true, and if it’s not, then maybe it is. That’s where I step in. I took this class as a lifelong magic enthusiast and a self-proclaimed fumbling amateur, hoping to be (at least an intermediate) master of deception who will be able to truly grasp the intricacies of misdirection, sleight of hand, and the art of crafting illusions that leave audiences speechless.

This review will answer all your unanswered questions. I’ll analyze everything, from the curriculum to supplemental material. By the end of this class, I aim to understand whether it caters to beginners, seasoned illusionists, or people somewhere in between (like me). 

With this class in my quiver, I hope not to be a mere spectator anymore but a weaver of illusions. If you’re anything like me, it’s time to grab your imaginary top hat (and invisible pigeon) and peek behind the curtain to see if Penny and Teller’s MasterClass delivers what it promises and unlocks my magical potential that’s (hopefully) been hiding within me all this time.

Let’s see if this is the educational rabbit I’ve been pulling out of my hat of dreams or if it disappears in a puff of smoke, leaving my wallet a little lighter and my magical aspirations grounded in reality. The suspense is killing me (but hopefully, that’s a skill I can learn too).

Penn and Teller Masterclass Review Quick Summary:

If you are short on time, here is a quick summary you’ll know.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Create illusions and master foundational magic techniques
  • Practice classic techniques and develop the agility to perform them flawlessly
  • Build compelling routines, structure impactful reveals
  • Master the art of showmanship
  • Gain insights into the professional world of magic

Time duration

This class is 2 hours and 53 minutes long.

Pros

  • No need for extra props for tricks
  • The format is well-structured and engaging
  • Grand “behind the stage” reveals their own tricks
  • Prompts to perform tricks practically
  • Excellent production quality

Cons 

  • It cannot be performed individually
  • The duration is short

Recommendation

As someone who is a lifelong admirer of all things magic, I enjoyed this MasteClass to the very last minute. Every one of us has watched a show (even if it’s online) or heard of Penn and Teller, and this course is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from the master magicians themselves. If you are even a tiny bit intrigued by magic or have a curious mind and want to understand the workings of magic tricks and illusions, this class is perfect for you.

Penn and Teller Masterclass Review in 2024 Worth it? Legit?

Who are Penn and Teller?

Penn and Teller are legendary figures in the world of magic. They’ve dominated the stage for over four decades with their outrageous illusions, sharp wit, and unbelievable deceptions.

Their list of accolades is almost as impressive as their tricks. They’re the longest-running magic show hosts in Las Vegas history, have seven Emmy nominations under their belts for their television show “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” and have sold out countless tours and shows. They’ve been requested to perform on everything, from Saturday Night Live to The Tonight Show, and each time, they leave their audiences and even fellow magicians in awe at their sheer talent and audacity.

But beyond the awards and fame, what truly sets Penn and Teller apart is their mastery of the art of magic. They’re not just illusionists but champions of deception, performers who understand how to manipulate attention, exploit psychological loopholes, and craft experiences that leave people speechless.

This depth of knowledge and experience makes their MasterClass a golden opportunity.  It’s a chance to learn from the best, understand the secrets that fuel their endlessly charming feats, and gain insights from their years of experience in deception. If you’ve ever dreamt of pulling off an unforgettable illusion (or perhaps a series of them), then Penn this MasterClass will be the stepping stone towards your goal.

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Who should get Penn and Teller’s MasterClass?

Penn and Teller’s MasterClass is a great fit for a broader range of people than just those new to magic.

Magic Enthusiasts (of All Levels):

If you are a beginner, you will gain a solid foundation in the principles and techniques of magic, and if you have some experience, you will learn new approaches and refine your existing skills (with a fun twist).

Fans of Penn and Teller: 

This course is a unique opportunity to learn directly from these legendary performers. You’ll gain insights into their creative process, hear untold stories, and witness Teller break his vow of silence for the first time!

Anyone Curious About the Art of Deception:

The course dives deep into creating moments of wonder and persuasion. This knowledge can be fascinating for anyone interested in human behavior and the power of illusion. You also understand the science behind magic, which will satisfy your curiosity.

In a nutshell, this class is ideal for

  • People who have always been curious about magic tricks but have yet to know where to start.
  • Those who want to learn some elemental magic to impress friends and family.
  • Performers or entertainers looking to add new skills to their shining resume.
  • Anyone interested in the psychology of deception and persuasion (could be a good tool for people in sales).
  • Die-hard Penn and Teller Fans (like me).

Here are a couple of essential things to remember:

  • While they cover some advanced techniques, the course focuses on building a solid foundation. You should look elsewhere for in-depth trade secrets if you are a seasoned magician.
  • Mastering magic and performing it in front of a live audience takes dedication and practice. This class will make you a master overnight, but it will provide you with the tools and inspiration to get started.

Also, check if Masterclass is worth it.

What does Penn and Teller’s MasterClass cover?

Penn and Teller Teach Art of Magic is 2 hours and 53 minutes long, but it is easy to watch, and they make time fly with their screen presence. The class is divided into 17 video lessons (including three bonus lessons) of around 5-15 minutes each. 

The class also comes with an additional supplemental guidebook. The book provides reference material you can review after completing your course and a list of additional resources you can use later. Unlike guidebooks that come with most Masterclass courses, this one was a miss for me as it didn’t provide any extra value to the class.

MasterClass also has a vibrant community of like-minded people with whom you can discuss your ideas and ask your queries. The instructors often participate in these discussions (but don’t go around hoping to have a one-on-one conversation with Penny and Teller).

The lesson plan is as follows:

  1. Meet Penn & Teller
  2. Sleight of Hand: The French Drop
  3. Cups and Balls
  4. What Is Magic?
  5. Misdirection
  6. Coin Magic
  7. Magic Vs. Lying
  8. Mentalist or Crook?
  9. Card Magic
  10. Exploiting the Best of the Human Brain
  11. Rope Tricks
  12. Principles of Performing
  13. Cause and Effect
  14. The Joy of Magic
  15. Bonus Chapter No. 1: Advanced Student Coaching
  16. Bonus Chapter No. 2: Piff the Magic Dragon
  17. Bonus Chapter No. 3: Penn & Teller Live at Rio Las Vegas “Cell Fish”

Summarizing the Lessons from Penn and Teller’s MasterClass

Penn and Teller’s MasterClass (like most MasterClasses) starts with an introduction. This class feels more like a conversation than an actual one, which is fun. The first few video lessons will teach you the sleight of hand, the rule of misdirection, and the principle of illusions.

To perform the tricks they teach you in this MasterClass, you will need a few props like:

  1. Two small tinfoil balls
  2. Two large tinfoil balls
  3. One magic wand
  4. Some grapes
  5. Three plastic cups
  6. Some large coins or quarters
  7. One drinking glass
  8. One newspaper or sturdy napkin
  9. One small piece of paper
  10. One pencil
  11. One ashtray
  12. One lighter
  13. Two duplicate decks of cards
  14. One 4-6 ft. piece of rope
  15. Scissors 
  16. An audience (the most important prop of all)

I know this list of props is enormous, but these are all households we have lying around, so it shouldn’t be that difficult.

Penn and Teller have invited three complete beginners to this class to teach the magic tricks and the science behind them. They demonstrate the tricks first, then explain how they did it and let them duplicate the process. Learning in this manner will help you understand the practicality of the tricks better, and you will easily be able to do it yourself.

They start by performing “The French Drop” and break down this trick’s physical, practical, and psychological components, making it so much easier to understand.

Once you have mastered “The French Drop,” you can use what you have learned as building blocks for the following tricks: sleight of hand using cups and balls and countless variations using the same props.

Penn and Teller then sit down and explain the fundamentals of magic, saying it is nothing but an intellectual form of art that needs you to engage the audience’s attention while also banking on their suspension of disbelief. They elaborate on the philosophical and psychological ideas behind performing magic.

They again call their (prodigal) students in the making with them and teach them (and you) various coins, cards, and rope tricks. They reiterate that magic is all but misdirection, and to make it tangible, you need to persuade your audience to hear the story they want to believe. 

In these few performative chapters, you will learn about:

  • Principles of sound misdirection involving coins
  • Sleight of hand and palming involving coins
  • Fundamental moves of card magic
  • Images of destruction and resurrection involving rope

Penn and Teller also invite Johnny Thompson (a legendary magician no longer with us) to teach his famous card trick, “The Whispering Queen.” All three magicians have a remarkable screen presence that you will never get tired of soaking in.

They discuss the fine line between magic and lying by explaining that to convince your audience, you need to let them form their own conclusion. Magic is inherently deception at its core, but Penn and Teller help you understand the philosophy behind it. They also talk about the art of mentalism (my favorite part of magic) and how to be moral in it. They emphasize that mentalist tricks, which are basically guesswork, should only be used for entertainment purposes.

They explain the principles of performing, focusing mainly on authenticity, practice, and research. As someone who knows their way around the stage, they recount their own tales and share what they have learned over the years. This would be helpful for any aspiring performers (not just magicians).

Wrapping up their awe-inspiring MasterClass, they focus on the joy of magic and how it can bring empathy and wonder into your life. Teller (who rarely talks) shares his heart-rending childhood memory and how it inspired him to bring joy to others through magic.

Key Points I am taking away from Penn and Teller’s MasterClass:

As an aspiring magician, this class is a delight (think early Christmas). I have been fond of magic ever since I was a little kid, and I keep practicing tricks in front of my mirror every chance I get. However, after taking this MasterClass, I realized the critical element that needed to be added to my performances was an audience. Penn and Teller’s MasterClass taught me that practicing magic efficiently and acquiring mastery over this craft requires an audience (whom you can bamboozle). 

Every tiny hand gesture and eye movement you make is a part of your act and is done on purpose. I learned that even when it seems the trick is going all wrong, it is not. There is nothing “accidental” about magic. Every move is precisely curated to leave the audience stumped. I also learned to perform “The French Drop successfully,” a huge accomplishment.

Magic (for me) was all about deception, but this class taught me that there is more to it than misdirection. I learned about the philosophy, psychology, and morality involved with magic and how to uphold the code of conduct set for a magician. I realized that the core concept of any magical trick lies within the art of persuasion and how you can convince your audience.

This course’s highlight was learning how to perform mentalist tricks on your audience by following simple personality tells and their stance. That was a revelation for me; I can also use these tricks as a marketing tool. Of course, when using tricks on people, you need to be responsible and have a sense of morality (it’s a good thing my moral compass always faces due North).

The most significant thing I learned from Teller’s childhood recounting was to understand that magic is not just about you. Anything you do in your life should not be limited to being pleasurable just for yourself. Magic should bring people joy; if it doesn’t, you are doing it wrong.

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What did I Like about Penn and Teller’s MasterClass?

Learning from the Legends: As a lifelong fan of Penn and Teller, a chance to learn from them was a golden opportunity for me. They have been my magical heroes for over a decade now. This was as close to being in their presence as possible (even if it was virtual). I couldn’t pass up the chance to learn their trade secrets and iconic acts.  

Breaking Down the Fundamentals: Before taking this class, I didn’t know a palm shift from a force palm. However, it broke down the basics, such as the French Drop, a sleight-of-hand move. Mastering these fundamentals was a huge confidence booster and opened doors for me to learn more complex tricks.

Beyond the Technique: This course is not just about learning cool tricks but the art of magic. I appreciated the fact that Penn and Teller covered things like misdirection, which is crucial to creating that sense of wonder. Understanding how to focus the audience’s attention when performing tricks is a game-changer.

Variety of Tricks: The class covered different areas, such as coin magic, card magic, and mentalism. This was a great way to explore and find what kind of magic appeals to me most, and I figured out it is mentalism and mind tricks.

Masters of Misdirection: Penn and Teller are renowned for their stage presence. This MasterClass showcased their charisma and comedic timing, which make them captivating to watch. I learned how they use humor to disarm the audience and make the impossible seem effortless.

Structure and Style: I enjoyed how well-structured and organized this course was. Penn & Teller explained core concepts, followed by demonstrations. They broke down their signature routines, giving me a glimpse into how they craft their act. The production quality was exceptional, with clear visuals and professional editing (MasterClass is known for its high standards).

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Conclusion 

Let me tell you, this MasterClass was a blast (just as it was promised). It felt like Penn and Teller invited me backstage and spilled all their secrets (well, some of them, at least). Their mix of magic knowledge and dry humor kept me engaged the whole time. I laughed and learned, and now I can’t wait to try out some card forces and mentalist tricks on my unsuspecting friends and family.

But the question remains, “ Is it worth the Investment?”

I would say absolutely YES!

There’s no denying magic can be expensive with all the fancy props. But this MasterClass gives you a whole set of tricks you can perform with everyday objects. Plus, the insights into presentation and misdirection are priceless. If you’re like me and want to take your first steps into the beautiful world of magic, Penn and Teller’s MasterClass is definitely worth the investment. My parting words would be to remember that real magic happens when you practice and put on a show yourself (with an audience).

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