Piff the Magic Dragon has a great appreciation for the ventriloquial arts.
Meaning, he has appreciated that ventriloquists have helped render him “The Loser of America’s Got Talent.”
Paul Zerdin topped the disaffected comic-magician for the season 10 championship. Darci Lynn Farmer finished higher than the Piff in “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” in February. She was runner-up; he was run off.
Piff, who headlines at Flamingo Las Vegas, is also aware that former champ Terry Fator has been running his ventriloquism production in his self-named theater at the Mirage for more than a decade.
Bowing to the trends, Piff has developed his own a puppet partner: A figure named Mr. Stuffles. He’s named that until Piff, whose real name is John van der Put, can think of a better name.
“After multiple defeats at the hands of the puppet masters, I have decided if you can’t beat them, join them,” Piff reasons. There is no time line to introduce the puppet into the act, as Piff has a lot of projects under development.
Piff also finishes filming on his debut special this next month, which features Penn Jillette as Pop the Magic Dragon (Piff’s father).
The show has been pitched to cable channels and streaming services. As Piff says, “I expect a fierce bidding war to break out between Netflix, Amazon, Showtime and ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ — 99 percent of the special is of me, falling over.”
Long-term, Piff is creating a large-scale, Broadway-styled, “extravaganza” with a live band, singing, dancing and larger magic routines. As he says, “I want to become the medieval David Copperfield!”
Piff emphasizes that the use guillotines and sawing people in half in boxes were commonplace in that era, but he says his are strictly for entertainment purposes.
Wayne Newton’s hip-replacement surgery is set for Tuesday. The procedure on his right hip has been scheduled for months, and follows his back surgery in May. Mr. Las Vegas will be something of a bionic showman when he is back onstage at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace on July 15.
What Works in Vegas
The dinner show “Marriage Can Be Murder” at the D Las Vegas celebrated its 20th anniversary this month. This is the production in which then-Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman co-starred for a show in 2009. He was hit, and was also a hit, as the show’s murder victim.
The production’s husband-and-wife team Eric Post and Jayne Ann Savoie Post are great in the show’s lead roles, and you might find yourself seated next to one of the actors, a mayor, or both.
On the topic of hizzoner
A major hang is being planned for Goodman’s 80th birthday at Fremont Street Experience on July 18. Frankie Scinta is emceeing the event. Expect other entertainers and Bombay Sapphire martinis, with proceeds being donated to the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health’s Keep Memory Alive foundation. Goodman, whose actual birthday is July 26, will also be flanked by the requisite showgirls. It’s going to be a scene.
On the topic if the Ruvo Center, the building designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry has been named the Coolest Building in Nevada by the online travel pub The Discoverer. The website canvassed the entire country and named a single structure in each, with the Cleveland Clinic in Symphony Park being recognized amid some (we note obviously) impressive competition.
Longtime Las Vegas producer Blair Farrington put together the live entertainment for the Sahara re-branding announcement at SLS Las Vegas on Thursday night. The grooving was inspired; the costumes brilliant. You know you’re in good hands if you see Farrington walking the scene while wearing a headset.
And, a fist-bump, high-five and FizzyWater toast to Leah Moyer and Andre Kasten as choreographers for the new sway-pole act introduced in “Absinthe” this month. We got to know them during the run-up to Cirque’s charity production “One Night For One Drop.” The new act is crazy-great, a great investment by the Gazillionaire.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.