By MIKE CHAIKEN
It’s Mr. Piffles’ world.
Piff the Magic Dragon just gets to share it.
Fortunately, he does get to keep the cash.
Piff the Magic Dragon, complete with his crayon-colored dragon costume plus his deadpan magic and comedy skills, follows Mr. Piffles into the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts, 501 Crescent St., New Haven this Saturday.
“Oh, how the tables have turned,” said Piff on the rise of Mr. Piffles, a chihuahua who started as a partner in crime before becoming the master on stage.
Word on the streets is that when Mr. Piffles arrives in Connecticut for the “Piff the Magic Dragon and The Dog Who Knows” Tour, he will arrive under the spotlight with a new act that will edge his cohort Piff (who was born John van der Put) into the shadows for a bit.
“He’s going to demonstrate some incredible mindreading skills,” said Piff, in a telephone interview.
Asked about Mr. Piffles’ creative process, Piff said, “He won’t tell me. He just goes off to another room.” And when Mr. Piffles returns, said Piff, he has something absolutely incredible.
“Mr. Piffles and I have been together for nine years. He was a rescue dog,” said Piff, “which is cheaper.”
“Over the years, he learned more tricks. People love him,” said Piff, “I get to keep the checks.”
While Mr. Piffles’ creative process is a mystery to the Magic Dragon, Piff said his own creative process is “pretty brutal for me.”
Comedy routines are a little easier to develop, said Piff. “You come up with an idea and try it out on stage.” And if the idea works, great. If it doesn’t, you throw it out and try again.
Magic is different, said Piff. Before you trot it out to an audience, you spend a lot of money and time to get it right. And if it fails, you’ve wasted a lot of money and time.
Piff, who was born in the U.K., developed his current fame after impressing the judges on “America’s Got Talent.” From there, he began to tour across the U.S.A. – even opening up for the band Mumford and Sons.
After making the rounds touring, Piff now has a residency at the Flamingo Casino in Las Vegas, which has been extended through 2019 (at the “Piff the Magic Dragon Theater,” quipped the comedian/magician).
Piff hasn’t given up performing beyond the confines of Las Vegas. But, he said, he tends to do one-nighters—flying out to a new city and returning to Vegas for a Sunday show.
His Vegas stint has been successful enough to earn him a nomination for “Casino Comedian of the Year” at the upcoming Casino Entertainment Awards. Other nominees include Bill Engvall and Sebastian Maniscalco.
Piff said the nomination isn’t just centered on Vegas. It’s a nationwide nod And to be up against Engvall and Maniscalco, he said, “It’s an amazing honor.”
But, now that he’s been honored, Piff said, “There’s tremendous pressure. You have to come up with new tricks and keep changing the act… so people aren’t disappointed.”
After garnering his first whiff of fame on television, Piff will soon be returning to television with an hour-long comedy special, which should air next month. The special will feature a mix of performances.
The special also includes an appearance by Penn Jillette from the comic magic duo Penn and Teller.
Penn and Tiller provided an entertainment template of humor and magic that set the stage for acts such as Piff the Magic Dragon.
But Penn and Teller aren’t just a pair of entertainers on a pedestal for Piff. “They are mentors and friends who have helped my career over the years,” said Piff.
And to have Penn appear on his special, said Piff, “is just incredible.”
Aside from Penn and Teller, Piff said he came up through the entertainment ranks admiring the likes of David Copperfield and the Amazing Johnathon. “These guys are sort of pioneers in the field.”
For audiences unsure if they want to come see Piff the Magic Dragon in New Haven, he said, “If you love grumpy dragons do magic, come down.”
Piff the Magic Dragon will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts at Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent St., New Haven.
Tickets are $25 for the general public, $15 faculty, staff, and active alumni, and free to SCSU students with a valid ID.
For more about Piff the Magic Dragon and Mr. Piffles, visit www.piffthemagicdragon.com