The torn paper trick is one of the most common illusions in the magician’s handbook: rip up a piece of paper to shreds, wave your hands, and presto – it’s back to normal. Beginning performers learn it as a way to practice their deception, and skilled magicians have fun by tweaking it in a variety of different ways. Hell, even Penn & Teller themselves have performed this trick multiple times across their decades-long career. And on an episode of their CW show Fool Us, Handsome Jack completely faked them out.
The trick begins normally – Handsome Jack takes a playbill, rips it up, and puts it back together. Easy. Then, he starts getting goofy, showing a mechanical device in his jacket containing the ripped up paper. He takes the ripped paper, shows each individual piece to the audience, then proceeds to put that paper back together and hands it off to Teller to close the trick.
It’s in that moment that Penn & Teller were completely fooled. Had he not shown the audience the separate pieces of paper, they’d have known exactly how he’d done it. Instead, Handsome Jack won the right to perform with Penn & Teller on stage in Las Vegas.