Penn & Teller: Fool Us

Since the shows creation in 2011 Penn & Teller: Fool Us has become a Bucket List goal for most professional magicians in this industry – myself included. If you are unfamiliar with this show please click here to read a bit more about Penn & Teller and Fool Us.

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Part of the reason most magicians want to become involved in the show is because you will get the opportunity to meet this dynamic duo. But also it’s partly because of the way the production showcases magic and takes care of their performers.

In most cases with Talent shows (or so I’ve heard) performers experiences can be hit or miss. Some people are treated like royalty whilst others are manipulated and shown in not so good a light depending on the productions goals for you in their show.

I think when deciding to partake in any t.v. entertainment show it’s important to remember these two things.

  1. The show is about the Judges. They are the most important people there and you are there to fill a role i.e. showcase talent.
  2. A good reason to go on is not just to win but to get great footage of your material. Most of these shows are being filmed with movie standard cameras and edited by professionals. In my Semifinal performance they had a track that the camera moved slowly across the stage whilst I performed. It was like being on a film set and I was the big star!

I was extremely lucky when taking part in Sweden’s Talang that I was treated great. There were only a few issues mostly to do with the language barrier. For my first time on t.v. I was supported through the process by the Talent Team wonderfully.

If you would like to view these videos of my work on Sweden’s Talang click these links below. ENJOY!

Nikola Arkane Audition: Here

Nikola Arkane Audition Result: Here

Nikola Arkane Semi Final: Here

“You fooled us!”

It’s a nice concept isn’t it? I mean trying to fool two of the most knowledgable magicians in our industry is not an easy task. But no matter what the outcome this television show was created as a celebration of magic for the world to see.

The producers literally do all they can to make magic look good on screen. And the time contestants give up to create their acts and venture to participate in this show is well worth it regardless of a Fool Us Trophy.

The Journey to Fool Us

To the public, my performance is airing this April 26th 2024. However, this entire journey began last April 2023. I had to keep this secret for an entire year – difficult I know!

The first step is to send in footage of your material to the producers and pray to the gods that be. Don’t feel discouraged if you are not selected. I tried for several years to get on the show with no luck before being picked up on Season 10. I’d actually almost given up. But this year was my lucky year! I must thank my good friend Benjamin Barnes for the push!

Once it is decided that you are a “potential candidate” for the show you begin discussions with the producers Andrew and Lincoln (who are very cool). Before it is decided that you will actually make it on the show you will have several meetings with magical legend Michael Close who will help and challenge you to push the effect so that it can become the best version to have a chance at fooling the boys and how it will look good on film. Something I myself do not have much experience in.

After several video exchanges, and meetings, you might (like me) receive a call on whats app from an odd american phone number.

When I heard the American voice asking “Is this Nikola Arkane” on the other end of the phone I was really puzzled. Who is this? But then when I was told, “This is the Fool Us producers calling to say your gonna be on our show!” Ecstatic is not even close to how I felt that day!

Next began the process of working with people to get the performance up to scratch.

I began working on my script, movements, the magic, everything to make my performance as smooth as possible. Even down to planning where I and P &T would be for the proceedings of the trick.

I cannot recommend enough having people as eyes to watch you performing and help direct what you do. You cannot direct yourself. And if anything getting others involved helps speed the creative process and hopefully something good will come of it. Also it’s much more fun than doing it alone.

This is a team I assembled.

Thank you so much for your input Leif Olberius, Håkan Berg (King of Birds), Tomas Andersson a.k.a. Tim Star and Tom Stone.

An epic adventure awaits

Sometimes when one project is scheduled to happen many other things happen all at the same time. And in order to squeeze everything in one must push oneself to achieve their goals. There is no better way to describe this journey to Vegas for me. Last august I…

  • Flew to Stockholm on 5th August to take part in Tom Stone’s Conjuring Course from Monday 7th and Saturday 12th August.
  • Flew to Las Vegas via London on 13th August and filmed the show until Thursday 17th August.
  • Friday 18th I flew back to Stockholm via London.
  • Saturday 19th I had my first premiere ever of FizzWizzPop in Sweden where I did the entire show in Swedish.
  • Sunday 20th I flew back to Belfast.
  • Monday 21st I began rehearsals with Peter Corry for “The Showman.”

All in all, you could say I’m looking pretty chipper in this picture in Vegas! But honestly why wouldn’t I be? I was living the dream and my word I was going to enjoy every minute of being here!

I went to see some shows, met friends but above all I worked hard to make sure my footage I made would look good for the audience. And that I was in the right zone to perform on this incredible stage.

Although this was a huge journey to make by myself I was astounded by the magic community who were beyond friendly and went out of their way to meet and hang with me whilst I was there.

Filming Fun

When you arrive at the Penn & Teller theatre you are welcomed by the team and given an official Fool Us artist pass.

Then you are brought to your pre-performance reel shoot. This is where they make a video that will be shown before the actual magic performance airs. So the audience get to know a little about you.

I worked with wonderful Ray Greene and his team who pulled out all the stops in my shoot. It was easy to work with this team and we all had so much fun creating my pre-show video.

I performed so many tricks in so many different costumes. It was a very fun afternoon indeed.

Now all that was left to do whilst I was here was to perform for Penn & Teller.

On the actual day of the shoot you make your way with your costume and props down to the theatre a.k.a. Penn & Teller’s theatre. You are shown backstage and there you get to meet and see the other performers filming too. On my day I got to meet so many cool performers.

Rachel Ling Gordon, Kimoon Do and Matt the Mind Noodler were filming with me for Fool Us that day. And we had a surprise visit as Jeff McBride also popped his head in to say hello backstage before we all began our performances too.

Backstage at the Penn & Teller Theatre was clearly a special and magical place to be!

Before the actual filming you get a rehearsal onstage without the boys and audience there just to tech through your movements, placement of props and go through the script for the cameras. Michael Close was there to give me a hug and tell me to breathe which helped a lot.

He also told us all backstage to just enjoy ourselves as “this opportunity is going to go so fast and we want you all to just have fun and enjoy your time performing out there!”

Once this rehearsal ended it was time to get hair, makeup and costume sorted. Which had to be approved for the camera’s hence why I brought several variations with me.

The moment I realised this was actually happening!

I will never forget the moment I was told backstage by the crew that it’s time.

I went out into the theatre set my props down and took a breath. I looked up and out towards what was in front of me… pure terror! A moment later, both Penn & Teller looked at me and waved the cutest little wave towards me. I laughed and waved back. It was like they were saying just relax and have fun. Which I did. It was such a surreal moment!

Once introduced by their new host, Brook Burke, I began. This was the moment I’d been working on and rehearsing for four whole months. There really was no nicer feeling than the release I felt at that time.

Once I began my nerves just melted away and I felt like I was just performing in front of any audience. It didn’t matter that two of my hero’s were there or the pressure was on to fool them. All I wanted to do was just to perform and put on the best show I could. I wanted to give them a performance that I would be proud to watch back and I believe I did that.

I left feeling good about my performance. And the audiences reaction confirmed it also. After the show I met some of them in the Casino and they asked for selfies and signatures. I felt like a real star.

One final memory

So part of the reason I wanted to go on the show was to meet Penn & Teller. To say hello to them and chat with them. As with it being Season 10 who knows how long this show will continue for, I hope for many more seasons to come.

As it was the final week of production I had been hearing stories that the duo were tired and not everyone got to meet the formidable pair in person after performances.

I had began preparing myself for this outcome. At least I got to perform in front of them, that’s all that mattered.

As i left stage with the production team and went backstage I was taking off my microphone and I heard one of the crew saying “he’s coming.” I didn’t know who they were referring to but I was told to wait.

A few moments later, a familiar face comes around the corner smiling at me. He shakes my hand and in a very slow, deep american accent thanks me for performance and comments that he loved my effect. I was speechless, Teller was talking to me about my trick!!! He asked would I like a picture with him to which I said “Hell yes!”

This was a trip of a lifetime. One that I will not forget. Big thanks for this experience goes to

Andrew and Lincoln.

Ray Greene and his team.

Michael Close.

The Fool Us Stage crew.

Connie Boyd for your continual support of women and being there for all the women performers this season on Fool Us in Vegas.

Brook Burke.

Penn & Teller.

But of course there is just one question you are all wanting to know, right?

Did Nikola Arkane Fool Penn & Teller?

Click here to watch and find out.


  1. Wonderful performance and a great behind-the-scenes blog! You were amazing and I look forward to seeing more magic from you in the future.

  2. Nicola, Thank you for sharing your experience in the blog. I just get the whiff of those nerves here in my kitchen, on-site it must have been madly fun! You are so brave and good!

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