Piff the Magic Dragon takes TV success to the Strip

Piff the Magic Dragon and sidekick Mr. Piffles debuted their show at the Flamingo on Nov. 9.
Piff the Magic Dragon and sidekick Mr. Piffles debuted their show at the Flamingo on Nov. 9.

In Piff the Magic Dragon’s audition for Season 10 of “America’s Got Talent,” he hit up Howie Mandel for cab fare, ate a banana and told Heidi Klum he had lost the will to live. He also did a card trick and earned the praise of Howard Stern, who told the British dragon, “You’re the first guy ever to come on our stage, eat his lunch onstage while we judge. You’re a phenomenal act, you’re going to go very far in this. I am so excited you joined us today.”

Then Stern fist-bumped him. The seven-minute YouTube video of that audition has been viewed 4.7 million times.

Piff, the Las Vegas-based act whose real name is John van der Put, has been performing his own special brand of deadpan comedy and sleight of hand on the Strip for two years now. He was part of the cast at “Vegas Nocturne,” where he made audience participants hold a gun to his furry sidekick, rescue Chihuahua Mr. Piffles, and starred in “X Comedy” at the Flamingo. He made it to the finals of “America’s Got Talent,” and though he didn’t win the top prize of $1 million and the chance to headline in Las Vegas, he got the second half of that reward anyway when his new solo show opened inside Bugsy’s Cabaret at the Flamingo on Nov. 9.

“I believe I’m the first magic dragon to have a show in Las Vegas,” Piff said during a phone interview.

The one-hour show is running mostly Mondays through Wednesdays, enabling Piff to continue touring on the weekends. And TV stardom hasn’t just helped him land his own gig on the Strip. It’s also earned him a hash-tagged fanbase (#piffpack), a mountain of fan art, tribute Halloween costumes and a lot of free sandwiches.

It’s also made his North American tour a booming success. “We’ve had crazy sales,” Piff said. “We’ve sold out shows all over the place and broken box office records. It’s been insane.”

The Las Vegas show — which also includes Mr. Piffles — opened with much of the same material that Piff has been using on tour, but the magic dragon said he’ll soon start adding Vegas-exclusive material to the show.   

“Over the next few months it will turn into its own little Vegas show,” he explained. “I’ve got five hours of material. Lots of magic dragon material.”

Piff will also run a special holiday edition of his Flamingo show Dec. 21 to 30, subtly titled “Piff’s Piffmas Piff-tacular.”

“Me and Mr. Piffles are kinda like the double Grinch. But we’re going to spread our special brand of Christmas cheer this holiday.”

Just don’t give the pup any Christmas cookies.

“Mr Piffles recently evacuated his bowels live onstage,” Piff recounted. “I think he’d been eating too much food. People try to feed him all the time when I’m not watching.”

For more information on “The Piff the Magic Dragon Solo Show,” visit piffthemagicdragon.com.
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