Las Vegas Strip mainstay Piff the Magic Dragon talks about a YouTube special
Piff the Magic Dragon has gone through quite a transition during the pandemic. He adjusted his comedy and magic show at the Flamingo so he could return to live performances in October 2020, and found enough success to permanently move production from the 160-seat Bugsy’s Cabaret venue to the venue. Flamingo exhibition of nearly 800 seats.
Piff has also spent the past two years building a small production and rehearsal studio at his home — it’s a dragon cave, actually — in Henderson. In 2021, Caesars Entertainment signed him on for three more years of headlining shows at Flamingo, where he has been performing since 2015.
And now he’s free Reptile Dysfunctionan hour-long comedy special streaming on YouTube that serves as the final chapter in the first volume of Piff the Magic Dragon in Las Vegas.
“It feels like we were able to show off a lot of the material that we did in this [smaller] room, and now when people watch the special and then come to see the show, they get a whole new experience,” he says.
Reptile Dysfunction is packed with live performances filmed at Bugsy’s Cabaret before the COVID shutdown, but it also includes plenty of more recent footage following Piff up and down the Strip as he interacts with Vegas visitors and fans. His partner in crime, Jade Symone, and his costumed chihuahua sidekick, Mr. Piffles, share a lot of screen time, and Penn Jillette returns as Pop the Magic Dragon, Piff’s clumsy father.
“It’s great to work with Penn. You give it a line and it will deliver it five different ways,” says Piff. The two magicians work hand in hand. “That was the point, to make it feel fresh. And he definitely goes crazy with the character. He’s a very different Penn than what you usually see.
While the special marks a fitting send-off to the show’s previous version and location, it was also an extensive learning experience for Piff, who helmed the production and finished it with her own crew.
“It was like making a movie, shooting scenes that we knew would fit the show, cutting some things and redoing others. In the end, we had so many materials to choose from that it was difficult to cut some of our favorite pieces,” he says. “But there was never a deadline to release it. We wanted it all finished and ready to be seen, and I think that’s different usual comedy specials.
With the expansive cast, expansive magic, and back-and-forth pacing from stage to Strip stages, it definitely stands out from the dozens of streaming comedy specials that easily find an audience these days. And there’s a lot of Vegas looming, which was also important for Piff. “It’s great to be part of the scene here and to be able to show what we love in Vegas.”
Now it’s all about the magical future, which will see Piff resume a co-headlining tour with sad clown singer Puddles Pity Party and continue to develop new pieces for the Flamingo show, like a bit where Mr. Piffles produces any type of cocktail requested by a member of the public.
“It’s based on a very old trick where you have a tea kettle and a spectator asks for a specific drink and you pour from the kettle,” says Piff, “only instead you have a dog, and instead beak, well, you can adjust the rest.
PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON Thursday-Monday, 7 p.m., $42-$78+. Flamingo Showroom, 855-234-7469, ticketmaster.com.
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