By Connor Beach
Usually the vision of a magician who’s landed a residency on the Vegas strip, doesn’t involve a 37-year-old man in a dragon costume.
But London native John van der Put has flipped the script, making a career of his magical performances with a comedic twist as Piff the Magic Dragon.
Van der Put said the idea behind Piff was born after he kept losing gigs as a magician because he was “too grumpy.”
In 2008, he decided to wear a dragon suit to a costume party, but ended up being the only costume-clad partygoer. As the night wore on, people started to laugh at the idea of an angry guy in a dragon costume.
“One of my friends said you should do this in your act,” van der Put said. “Then, suddenly, everyone who had been firing me because I’d been too grumpy was hiring me because apparently a grumpy guy in a dragon outfit is hilarious.”
Van der Put’s act as Piff gained notoriety in 2011 when he appeared on “Penn and Teller: Fool Us,” but Piff the Magic Dragon was catapulted to stardom in 2015 when he finished in the top 10 of the 10th season of “America’s Got Talent.”
Van der Put, who was living in Las Vegas at the time, said he decided to audition on “America’s Got Talent” because he was trying to find a way to continue living in America.
“In that show I was in everyone’s living room for three months,” he said.
Tomorrow night, Piff the Magic Dragon will take the stage at The Paramount as part of “The Dog Who Knows” tour that features Mr. Piffles, a white Chihuahua who’s been part of van der Put’s act since being rescued by him in 2009.
“It’s all new jokes, all new tricks, and this year Mr. Piffles is doing his mind reading act where he will tell the future and help some people make life decisions,” he said. “If you like grumpy reptiles doing magic, and you like cute dogs then you should give it a go.”
Doors are scheduled to open at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show on Feb. 9. Tickets are $20-$35 and can be purchased at the box office or online at Paramountny.com.