How John Archer fooled Penn and Teller

How John Archer fooled Penn and Teller
John Archer and his SEX envelope

I saw UK comedy magician John Archer at the magic convention Magic in the Rockies. Instead of telling you how great he is, watch his trick on the UK TV show Penn and Teller: Fool Us.

After you watch him, I’ll tell you how he does it.

John Archer Fools Penn and Teller

So how did he do it?

At the magic convention, Mr. Archer performed his trick, and then he explained to a group of magicians exactly how he did it. That’s what happens at magic conventions. Magicians from all over the world show up to perform and teach. They sell books and DVDs to each other that explain how they do their magic, and sometimes they sell the special apparatus or secret gimmicks needed to make the magic work. In the lectures they give, magicians will perform a trick, and then explain the devious methods they used. Many times, the magicians who perform are so good, they fool an entire room filled with other magicians.

If you watched the video, you know that Penn said he thought he knew how Mr. Archer did his money trick. He believed there was another envelope, and somehow he slid the winning money inside. Mr. Archer says that isn’t what he did – and he wasn’t lying.

(If you didn’t watch the video, the trick is that Mr. Archer lets audience members try to choose an envelope containing money, but they always lose.)

The secret of the trick is that Mr. Archer can manipulate the envelopes he’s holding to make money come out of any envelope that’s picked.

And the audience has a completely free choice of envelopes.

What happens is that Mr. Archer subtly changes what he does depending on which envelope an audience member picks, and when during the routine it’s picked.

The trick has a basic script which is set, but there are variations within the script. If an audience member zigs, then Mr. Archer zags to meet him. And all of these zigs and zags – every possible possibility – are worked out beforehand.

The other method used is the same one used by Penn and Teller.

Mr. Archer is so funny and entertaining, you don’t care how he does the magic, so his magic is not the only part of his performance.

Penn and Teller use their sense of humor and outrageousness to entertain. Mr Archer does the same. That’s why an audience of magicians who already know the secret can be entertained when watching a good magician perform – because a good magician is entertaining whether you know the secret or not.

And when you think about it, these two deceptive principles – make the audience not care only about the secret, and have different scripts to cover any possibility – are used by more than just magicians.

John Archer>>

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19 thoughts on “How John Archer fooled Penn and Teller

  1. "After you watch him, I’ll tell you how he does it."


    "The secret of the trick is…"

    What? You didn’t actually explain it

  2. I did tell you how he did it, but the exact details of his trick are not mine to tell. If you want all the details, John Archer himself will tell you. In fact, he will sell you the complete answer. It costs £20. Go to his site:

  3. That isn’t an explanation. Not only did you not explain the specific sleight-of-hand, you do ot even state in a general way. For example is the money in his hand between the envelopes? Behind the envelopes? In an extra orange envelope with nothing written on it? In one envelope and then trabsferred? How does he make it look as if it is coming out of the envelope (even when one uses freeze frame to look more carefully?

    Finally how come two brilliant magicians who KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR failed to spot it or even correctly explain it after the fact?

  4. Disagreed. He did tell how it was done:

    "The secret of the trick is that Mr. Archer can manipulate the envelopes he’s holding to make money come out of any envelope that’s picked."

    And I think that alone is clear enough, if you watch the video and has just enough critical thinking.

  5. There are more than 5 envelopes…. that is the secret…..

  6. I think it’s more that he doesn’t show the money at all. until the last when he pulls it out.. the money I mean

  7. Got it. They EACH have BOTH 100 pounds AND the zero dollar bill. When one is picked, he takes the real money out and hides it. Penn and Teller didn’t exam the last envelope, the MINE envelope, but if they did I’m sure there would have also been the zero dollar bill.

  8. How does that help, idiot? The money still has to be in one of the envelopes

  9. Sorry, Anonymous (different from me). Mario does explain a possible solution here. If all of the envelopes contain 100 pounds AND the phony bill, then his task is to remove the 100 pounds from whichever envelope is selected and hide the money. When he opens the final envelope, he has to remove the phony money and hide it, then count out the real money.

    Note that people do not have to tear open the envelopes because none of them are sealed. At the end of the trick (if this is indeed his method), he has 400 pounds and one phony bill hidden away somewhere.

    I can’t confirm this method, as the camera does not stay on him to try to detect it, but I did see one or two suspicious maneuvers. Archer said at the end that he did not put anything into the envelopes. He did NOT say that he took nothing out.

  10. Hm, young man chooses sex.
    Gay man chooses nothing.
    Woman chooses yours.
    Smirking guy chooses something.

    The magician chooses who to choose.

  11. the extra envelope was behind "something" the whole time, thats why he keeps in in the back hoping they dont choose it and forget about it.

    if someone does choose "something" he has to make sure to pull "something" envelope out while keeping the extra envelope still behind.

    thats why he needs 2 hands (and has them stacked) to give the last guy the envelope so he can hold the extra one behind and have it be together with "mine"

    Thats why he even asked the guy to change envelopes too, if the guy just chose "mine" the trick would been over he would not have asked him if he wanted a change.

    so he got unlucky there he actually gives himself a 75% chance of not having to move the hidden extra envelope. 🙂 smart!

    And all the talking at the end and joking just lets him get a good hold on the "mine" envelope and the extra envelope for when he has to to the unveiling and opening of the extra envelope.

    great trick!

  12. He always asks the last person if they want to change envelopes. It’s not a sometimes thing. Whether the personal changes envelopes or not, the magician always ends up with the money.

  13. John Archer is a C teaser. The above is B dust. Penn & Teller were partially right. Johns reply was a lie, so the audience won’t know the secret. He should have given another answer, it could have been vague, that’s fine, but not lie to win a trophy.

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