Archive for the 'Brian Brushwood' Category

Brian Brushwood: The 2 Biggest Lessons I Learned from Teller’s Letter

Posted by Editor on March 12th, 2012

teller brian brushwood letter.jpgWe are proud to welcome our dear friend Brian Brushwood as the iTricks guest editor all this week. His new eBook Scam School Book 1 will be released Pi Day March 14th. It contains material spanning 200 episodes of the hit podcast including original audio tracks and embedded video demonstrations. Head to for all pre-order information.

Recently there’s been a bit of viral buzz around this exchange between Teller and me from 16 years ago. I was a 19 year old kid starting out in magic, trying desperately to find my own voice, and Teller’s fantastic essay is, without question, the reason I’m where I am today. If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to do so. Teller’s wisdom will absolutely sharpen your magic presentation and inspire you to try for ever-greater things.

However, I’ve not previously given any advice as to how I implemented Teller’s suggestions. Everyone’s different, but here are a couple of the lessons I’ve learned in the last 16 years:

#1 – Don’t wait. There’s a million very good reasons why you should wait just a little bit longer before you start your next venture… Ignore all of them.

Don’t wait to get started. Don’t wait to pick up the phone. Don’t wait to start writing new material. Say “Yes” and “Immediately” often.

You’re going to find eight million excuses on why you should wait. Wait for them to call you back. Wait until you buy better props. Wait until you can hire a professional photographer. Wait until your new routine is ready. Wait until know-nothing doofuses who happen to have started their careers before you write you back with sage words of wisdom (that’s me I’m talking about).

Don’t. Wait.

The only thing separating you from having your best show possible is 10,000 hours of live performances. And while that sounds like an unfair, daunting amount of time and effort to put into becoming great, here’s the twist: the time is going to pass anyway. You can either spend it working towards your goal, or waiting.

Whatever’s wrong with your show, it’s nothing that a thousand performances won’t fix. So get out there now and start performing.

#2 – Find a safe place to be bad, so you can become good. Failure is an integral part of success, so figure out where you can be safely be bad immediately.

For me, it meant performing on 6th street and getting chased off by the cops. I could get six performances under my belt in one night, and I didn’t have to ask anyone for the booking. The audiences gave me instant (and very honest) feedback, and occasionally I’d come home with 50 bucks in my pocket.

Before I started Scam School, I spent a year putting together travel videos of life on the road at They weren’t great (and nobody watched them), but it taught me how to tell stories and host in front of the camera.

Once Scam School became popular, I realized that I had zero experience keeping a live broadcast interesting… So I started doing the BBLiveShow, the “Best Worst Show on the Internet.” We developed a very small audience and had a lot of fun… and the experience was absolutely vital to creating NSFWshow, iTunes’ pick for a “Top Audio Podcast” of 2010.

Point is, no matter where you are, you’ve got more to learn. Don’t just be unafraid to be bad… find the right venue to be aggressively, fearlessly bad so you can figure out how to become good.

Brian Brushwood Shows You How to Hack Human Brain in TEDx Talk

Posted by Editor on December 28th, 2011
TEDxSanAntonio - Brian Brushwood - Social Engineering - How to Scam Your Way into Anything - YouTube.jpg

Social engineering can change your life. By understanding exactly how simplistic our mammalian brains are and taking advantage, you can enrich yourself, sneak into any event you want and even (hypothetically) fudge the TSA rules so you can (hypothetically) bring and extra bottle of (hypothetical) shampoo on the airplane.

Such are the lessons of Scam School’s own Brian Brushwood in this awesome TEDx talk.

It’s the best 16 minutes you’ll spend today.

Brian Brushwood’s 5 Favorite Gross Out Tricks

Posted by Editor on December 13th, 2011

The stuff I dig the most is the stuff that people are horrified by the idea. Not even the execution.

Nail through eye: 80 to 90% of the audience can’t see the effect but they are disgusted by the premise and the description of those on stage. Best line to prove that was one of the first times I did it, a dude said “I love that pen in the eye thing.” I asked if he saw it from where he was seated and he said “no, but I believed it.”

Eating glass: that crunch moment into the microphone creates imagery that isn’t visual. I love creating moments in magic where the visuals are secondary.

Walking on glass: Same thing. Visually you can’t conceive of that beings safe and it’s heightened by the cracking of the glass, which is why a lot of guys put a mic there.

Yogi thread: it’s just about the raddest thing out there. The idea on that is unreal. There are precious few things that are magic in my world and I want that to stay magic, I want to leave that box unopened.

Human mutilation: Cutting off your finger or nailing your manhood to a board. It is their performance that makes my geek-lite play with the normies. You guys are the real deal. Hats off to you, weirdos.

Brian Brushwood gross out .jpg

Fun Trick For Traveling Magicians: Find Out If Your Rental Car Hates The French

Posted by Editor on September 16th, 2011

Host of Scam School Brian Brushwood has discovered a tawdry secret buried in the depths of one rental car with voice navigation. A slightly offensive, stereotypical French groan counts enough to switch the primary language to French.

How Brian Brushwood found time to discover this amongst recording his many hit podcasts including Frame Rate and the new TWiT Gaming Show is beyond us. However, since we know many reading this are workers who regularly have to rent cars to get to gigs, we’re curious to see if this trick works on other voice nav systems.

Have we mentioned Weird Things podcasts’ own Brian Brushwood recorded this video? We did? Good.

Was that so hard Gizmodo?

Brian Brushwood Explains Which Film Riot Camera Trick Puzzle Was Designed To Fry Magicians

Posted by Editor on March 25th, 2011

After the reaction we got to his collaboration with Film Riot in which he asked viewers to tell the difference between real magic and camera tricks, Brian Brushwood told us which of the effects were specifically designed to fool magicians.

If you haven’t seen the puzzles, watch them here.

YouTube  filmriot s ChannelI knew that Ryan was going to be handling all the digital effects, so I was mainly focused on the themes of the tricks. Yes, I definitely wanted to fool a few magicians, so we intentionally made a couple of digital effects that *could* have been done with analog methods (specifically, I’m thinking of the third coin vanish).

I was totally shocked that fully 90% of the responses we got (even from magicians) had at least one wrong guess. The biggest foolers appeared to be:

#1 – the classic french drop (this one surprised me!)
#3 – the coin in open hand vanish
#5 – Josh-to-Emily transformation
#8 – the vanishing toy bear

I’m really thrilled with the response we’ve gotten on the episodes, and would love to do another analog vs. digital magic episode again… so send in your suggestions 🙂

Could You Tell The Difference Between Real Magic & Camera Tricks? Results Are Here

Posted by Editor on March 24th, 2011

Props to Brian Brushwood and the Film Riot crew for this fun puzzle. How did you guys do?

Brian Brushwood Defies You To Tell The Difference Between Camera Tricks & Real Magic

Posted by Editor on March 17th, 2011

Two of our favorite podcasts collide in this clip featuring Brian Brushwood (Scam School) and the Connolly Gang (Film Riot) force you to tell the difference between real magic and camera tricks.

Are you up to the challenge? Skip to 5:33 to see for yourself and then head to to register your picks. FR will reveal the winners next week.