At 15 years old, Orcas Island-grown magician Matthew Laslo stood on a Las Vegas stage, in front of thousands of people, to perform an original effect for Penn and Teller’s television show.
“It was the best thing ever. I got really close to doing what my goal is,” said Laslo, whose dream is to headline in Sin City.
He will appear in season three of “Fool Us,” which was filmed at the Rio Hotel and Casino. In the CW Network series, magicians perform for magic-comedy duo Penn and Teller and a large live audience. If the two cannot figure out how the trick was done, the winning magician earns a five-star trip to Las Vegas to perform as the opening act in Penn and Teller’s live show. Producers try to have at least one young magician grace the stage every season. Laslo, who just turned 16, is one of the youngest ever to appear.
A viewing party will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. at Sea View Theatre for Orcas audiences to watch the episode as it airs. The event is free. The lounge will open at 7 p.m. and the auditorium opens at 7:30 p.m. Season three of Fool Us has featured Las Vegas headliners Nathan Burton and Mack King, and Laslo is a big fan of both.
“It was incredible to be equals on the show,” he said. “I’ve watched them and stood in line for autographs, and now I am standing alongside them.”
Laslo has been performing magic since he was a young boy and is well known in the San Juans for his sold-out shows. He has recently been expanding his reach with performances on the mainland. He met Johnny Thompson, a magic consultant for Penn and Teller, last year. At the time, he didn’t have a new, original trick to submit to the show. But in December 2015, Laslo experienced a moment of inspiration and knew exactly what he wanted to do. By early February, 75 islanders packed into Sea View for a live taping of the illusion. The audience had no idea what the performance was for but knew it was “something big.”
A few days later Laslo submitted the video, and by mid-February his appearance on the show was confirmed. Producers screen more than 500 magicians and only 50 make the cut each season.
“They really look for a brand new, never before seen effect,” Laslo said.
He and his assistant Maria Bullock flew to Las Vegas in April to film the show. He can’t divulge any details until after the episode airs.
“I wasn’t expecting the experience to be so nice,” he said. “I’ve heard so many bad things about filming reality television but everyone was so nice and supportive. And they really cared about magic.”
Laslo has upcoming shows on Whidbey Island (Aug. 27), San Juan Island (Sept. 3) and Seattle (Oct. 15). In a year’s time, Matthew hopes to be doing as many performances as possible.
“I want to be doing shows twice a night, seven days a week anywhere in the world. Realistically, I won’t be at that frequency by next year, but I will still be doing shows … I am more driven because I got an idea of what it might be like to perform in Las Vegas, but I’ve always been hooked on magic. Whether I have an audience or not.”