By Connor Beach
Since London native John van der Put last took the stage at The Paramount in Huntington just over a year ago, the magician has extended his residency at the Flamingo Casino in Las Vegas through 2019.
Van der Put’s success is thanks in no small part to the originality of his act. The 38-year-old Englishman dons a dragon costume and takes on the persona of Piff the Magic Dragon before every show.
Piff’s show combines the comedic edge of a witty, grumpy and sarcastic dragon with magic tricks that Penn Jillette from the duo Penn & Teller has called “stunningly good.”
Van der Put said the idea behind Piff was born after he kept losing gigs as a magician because he was “too grumpy.”
Piff’s persona blossomed in 2008 when a friend suggested van der Put incorporate the dragon into his magic routine after he became the life of a costume party as an angry guy dressed as a dragon.
“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 said.
Piff the Magic Dragon gained notoriety in 2011 when he appeared on “Penn and Teller: Fool Us,” but was catapulted to stardom in 2015 when he finished in the top 10 of the 10th season of “America’s Got Talent.”
“In that show I was in everyone’s living room for three months,” he said.
Piff the Magic Dragon is regularly joined on stage by his trusty sidekick Mr. Piffles, a white Chihuahua who’s been part of van der Put’s act since being rescued in 2009.
Piff was originally set to appear at The Paramount on April 28, but the show has been rescheduled to Saturday, April 20. The show is one stop on his new The Lucky Dragon tour, which kicked off on March 29.
“If you like grumpy reptiles doing magic, and you like cute dogs then you should give it a go,” he said.
Doors are slated to open at 6:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. show on April 20. Tickets range from $20-$45, and can be purchased at the box office or online at Paramountny.com.