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Welcome to Wizard Wars - where teams of amateur magicians compete against the pros for a chance at a $10,000 prize. There's no camera tricks here: just amateurs doing what they love and making magic.
Hosted by Ellen Fox, she introduces the intimate in-theatre audience and the viewers at home to the Wizard Team: four professional magicians with impressive credentials.
First, there's Greg Wilson, an international sleight of hand champion. Next we meet mentalist Angela Funovitz, runner up on NBC's Phenomenon. Then, there's Shimshi, an illusionist at The Wynn Las Vegas whose mind-boggling illusions make the audience squirm. Finally, there's Justin Flom, a YouTube sensation with over 1 million views of his magic videos.
Ellen explains the rules of the challenge: two teams of challengers must make magic with three everyday, ordinary objects, using each item at least once in their routine. The two teams of challengers compete where the winning team faces off against The Wizard Team. If the challengers dazzle the judges over the Wizard Team, they get to take home $10,000.
The judges include the magnificent magic duo of Penn Jillette and Teller, as well as Christen Gerhart, a widely known magic critic and Jason Latimer, three-time World Champion of Magic. Each team is judged on their creativity, deception, and showmanship.
The first team of challengers includes Kyle Marlett, a self-described "magic nerd" and Dalton Wayne, a magician who specializes in some pretty freaky close-up magic. Tonight, they compete against magic from up north: Canadian magicians Chris Funk and Ekaterina, a Russian-born magician who specializes in card tricks.
Tonight's challenge items include a deck of cards, a Super Soaker, and a can of spam. The teams head to the Workshop where they can supplement their routine with items from a fully-stocked Magic Shop.
Kyle and Dalton are up first. While Dalton wows with some card acrobatics, Kyle provides light-hearted comedic timing. When they intentionally botch a "guess the card" trick with an audience member, they set aside the card deck box in plain site on stage. They bring up another audience member and gesture toward the bowl of spam on another table.
Dalton pulls out a slice of spam, and then "cooks" the piece with his bare hand, complete with smoke and scorch marks. Kyle has the audience member take out a piece of spam, where she then writes her initials on a piece of paper pinned to the slice. She is instructed to bury that piece in the bowl.
Kyle, ever the jokester, dons a rubber glove stating that he's a vegetarian, and reaches in to grab her slice. He digs in and pulls out… a deck of cards. Dalton, astonished, then gestures back at the card box on the opposite table, where he pulls out the piece of spam with the volunteer's initials on it.
Finally, they ask an audience member to think of any card and then chooses the seven of diamonds. With their Super Soakers filled with dye, Kyle and Dalton hose down a canvas tarp to dramatically reveal the number 7 and a diamond.
The judges all agreed that the pair had great rapport together on stage, but the build up to the spam reveal was just too long. Penn had the most biting remark: "I liked you most when you weren't doing magic." While not a fan of the tricks, he enjoyed the overall performance.
Next up, Chris and Ekaterina show off a can of spam that Chris then stuffs into a small paper bag and pulls out a deck of cards instead. When he hands the cards to Ekaterina, crushing the bag and revealing that the can has mysteriously disappeared. Ekaterina takes a moment to work some serious card ninja skills.
They ask a member of the audience to pick any one of the four judges. The person picks Penn, so the pair head to his table. They ask him to pick any card in the deck (six of diamonds) where Ekaterina pulls it out and has Penn autograph the card. Chris then places the card on Penn's hand and covers it with his own, where it begins smoking. The autograph has vanished from the face of the card, but Ekaterina peels back the top of the card to reveal Penn's autograph has magically transferred to the inside of the card!
The duo close out their routine with the same Super Soaker trick as Kyle and Dalton, this time revealing Penn's face on a canvas, as he was the judge randomly selected by the audience member. But their twist ending revealed that the Super Soaker was in fact, full of spam! (Gross.)
The judges raved about Chris and Ekaterina's routine. Penn especially loved the peeled card trick, having never seen it before. The vote is unanimous and Chris and Ekaterina advance to the next round.
The Wizards select Greg and Justin to compete for their team and everyone is given eyeglasses, a mannequin, chalkboard and a fencing foil to implement their next trick. While they head to the Workshop, Penn shows Ellen a clever magic trick using mini Altoid tins - and a little help up Teller's sleeve.
Chris and Ekaterina come out first with a complex prediction trick. They pick a member of the audience and explain they're going to magically "connect" her with the mannequin. Chris needs an object from the audience and asks to go through a woman's purse. He pulls out the fencing foil from it, to her amazement. Next, Ekaterina wants to make the mannequin look more like the volunteer on stage (who's wearing glasses) and physically pulls a pair of glasses through the chalkboard.
Chris tells the volunteer to close her eyes and tells her to concentrate on everything she feels from the mannequin. Ekaterina pokes the mannequin in the butt with the foil, causing the volunteer to jump and shriek: she too, was just poked in the butt all the way across the stage!
They ask her to name the mannequin and to write that name on the large chalkboard on stage. Ekaterina then heads to the judge's area where she makes the name appear on a much smaller chalkboard just by shaking chalk dust over its surface. The judges are very impressed.
The Wizard Team has Greg and Justin teaching a volunteer from the audience how to pickpocket, using the mannequin as his target. Before their trick, Justin has predicted the "crime" that's going to take place, having written the details on a covered chalkboard on stage.
As Greg teaches the volunteer how to pickpocket, Justin cleverly pickpockets the volunteer in plain site of the audience, but unknown to the volunteer. They then "blindfold" him with eyeglasses-turned-sunglasses they crafted in the workshop. They have him stab the mannequin in several places. They then ask him to check the mannequin's pockets, where he finds both his wallet and watch.
Justin reveals the chalkboard, showing both the name of the volunteer and the exact places where he stabbed the mannequin.
The judges loved the overall story and continuity that the Wizard Team had to offer and despite the natural charisma on-stage between Chris and Ekaterina, the judges narrowly voted in favor of the Wizard Team, crowning them this week's winners.