By Mike Williscraft
He fooled them.
Now Nick Wallace will fly off to Las Vegas to open for them this coming Monday at The Rio.
Wallace, a Beamsville resident, appeared on the Penn & Teller: Fool Us television program Aug. 27 and, guess what? His cookie trick fooled them.
“I was surprised. The trick is a variation of something that is well-known but I did develop a twist myself. I can’t tell you how many cookies I ate sitting on the couch at home working on that trick,” Nick laughed.
This Monday, as promised for anyone who fools the magical duo, he will perform live on stage in Vegas. Nick returns to the scene of his caper to open for Penn & Teller at their long-running show at The Rio. It is a one-time gig.
The idea for the “cookie trick” started eight years ago really just as a foil for the pseudo sinister vibe Nick tries to give off during his act.
“I tend to talk a lot during my act and I was trying to think of a way to give the audience a break. I wanted something different. I thought ‘what is more wholesome than milk and cookies’,” he recalled, noting when he first started doing the trick he performed it solo.
Simply, the trick involves Nick and a helper both being blindfolded, the helper first, then a razor blade is nudged in between wafers of one cookie, while a series of cookies are placed on a spinning plate. Nick blindfolds himself along the way, the wheel is given a spin and he and his helper start eating the cookies one at a time, spinning the wheel again and again in between nibbles to ensure randomness.
The description does not do it justice.
During the performance for the TV show, as Nick sat next to host Alyson Hannigan, an audible gasp was emitted from the audience as Nick took out the razorblade and inserted it into the cookie – next to his blindfolded and unknowing helper.
“She didn’t know a thing. The producers just checked with her to make sure she was ok with eating cookies and drinking some milk. She is off dairy, so we needed soy milk for her. Even during rehearsal I worked with a stand-in,” said Nick.
In real time, he said his performance took about 15 minutes and it was the most comfortable time for him during the initial Vegas visit for the taping. All the pre-shooting and interviews made him much more nervous.
After all, he had practiced this trick 1,000 times. When he first started it, he used only four cookies. The result though, while interesting, was “anticlimactic” Nick said, which seems logical as nobody in the audience would believe he would put himself in danger.
That all changed when when the second person was introduced.
“Would he actually do that to someone else?” Nick said was the question audiences asked.
In a word, yes, he would.
The Mr. Rogers of magic knew he had something.
When he applied to the show, though, he considered two tricks to submit by video – one he thought might fool Penn & Teller, the other he thought showed well and would get more attention from a TV audience.
The cookie trick was the one he thought would be found out.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and sometimes I can’t tell if it’s good or not. People seem to like it, which is nice,” said Nick humbly, noting a youtube version of the trick already has more than a quarter-million views.
“This is the most exposure I have ever received, so I don’t know what it will mean, if anything. I have got a lot of calls and emails from people. My parents (Bonnie and Bruce) are very proud which is a bit funny because they really don’t like the trick. They think it’s too dangerous.”
One of his surprise contacts was from his junior kindergarten teacher at St. John Catholic Elementary School, Sue Zuzek, who wanted to make sure she saw him on the show, but she did not get the CW channel. He got her set up.
“It was pretty neat to explain to my son who is just going into Grade 1 that my JK teacher just called,” laughed Nick.
Nick and his wife, Jessica, have two boys: Noah, 6, and Ben, 3.