When he’s not on the road, Piff the Magic Dragon, like any good dragon, likes to spend time in his cave.
In Piff’s case, his “cave” is a cozy two-bedroom in Henderson, Nevada, that he shares with his chihuahua, Mr. Piffles, who happens to be the “World’s First Magic Performing Chihuahua.”
On the day he spoke to The Spokesman-Review, Piff and Mr. Piffles had just released the latest episode of their podcast, “The Piff Pod.”
“Everyone and his dog has got a podcast these days so we thought we should jump on the bandwagon,” said Piff, the stage persona of magician/comedian John van der Put.
With the podcast released, it would soon be time for the pair to head to the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino for their show, a difficult task given Mr. Piffles sleeps 25 hours a day, according to Piff.
Before spending his days prepping a sleepy magical dog for a Las Vegas residency, the England-born Piff was a fan of card tricks. He eventually decided to give them a try and was hooked after seeing the range of reactions his tricks elicited.
He became a member of the Magic Circle, a British organization of magicians dedicated to promoting the art of magic, and began performing in restaurants and at corporate gigs.
Piff was created innocently enough when he needed a costume for a party.
He borrowed a dragon costume from his sister (“It was under her bed,” he said. “I didn’t ask.”) but arrived to find he was the only one who dressed up.
As he got grumpier and grumpier, a friend suggested he incorporate this grumpy dragon into his act. It was then that Piff, the sarcastic magic dragon, was born.
Any other creature, and the act wouldn’t have worked.
“Piff the Magic Panda isn’t really the same…,” Piff said. “I have this grumpy looking face, and I would be sarcastic to people and apparently you need a dragon outfit for that, to make that socially acceptable.”
With a pep in their scaly step, Piff and the also-costumed Mr. Piffles appeared on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” where magicians try to fool the duo with spectacular tricks, and opened for folk-rock band Mumford & Sons on their “Tour of Two Halves,” even appearing on the cover of their album “Babel.”
Piff and Mr. Piffles then relocated to Las Vegas and began performing at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
With a dedicated following behind them, Piff and Mr. Piffles tried out for the 10th season of “America’s Got Talent.”
Walking on stage dressed in his green suit, which is adorned with red and gold spikes and scales, Piff got some confused looks from the judges.
“My name’s Piff the Magic Dragon,” he said, dryly. “You might have heard of my older brother … Steve.”
From then on, Piff and Mr. Piffles quickly became fan favorites and made it all the way to the final round of competition.
Though they didn’t win (Piff proudly calls himself the “loser of ‘America’s Got Talent’ ”), their time on the show led to their current gig at the Flamingo, which Piff said is completely different from the show he and Mr. Piffles will bring to the Spokane Comedy Club this weekend.
“We’re going to do all new tricks, all new jokes, same dog,” Piff said. “Even if you’ve seen Piff or Mr. Piffles before, you won’t have seen this show.”
Booked solid through the end of the year, it’s safe to say America has embraced the magic dragon and his canine sidekick with open arms. More so, according to Piff, than other places.
“We’ve actually found America has been great for what we do because you guys are much more happy, generally, than the English, so you can laugh at a little grumpy magic dragon a lot more,” he said.
That’s a good note for fans, as Piff and Mr. Piffles have a lot more in store.
“Probably more grumpy dragon doing magic tricks accompanied by a cute chihuahua in some degree of peril,” Piff said.