Las Vegas Strip mainstay Piff the Magic Dragon conjures a slick YouTube special

Piff the Magic Dragon
Caesars Entertainment / Courtesy

Piff the Magic Dragon went through quite the transition during the pandemic. He adjusted his comedy and magic show at the Flamingo so it could return to live performances way back in October 2020, and met with enough success to permanently move the production from the 160-seat Bugsy’s Cabaret room to the nearly 800-seat Flamingo Showroom.

A scene from ‘Reptile Dysfunction’

A scene from ‘Reptile Dysfunction’

Piff also spent the past two years building a bit of a production and rehearsal studio at his home—it’s a dragon cave, actually—in Henderson. In 2021, Caesars Entertainment signed him up for three more years of headlining shows at Flamingo, where’s he has starred since 2015.

And now he’s released Reptile Dysfunction, an hourlong comedy special streaming on YouTube that serves as the final chapter to the first volume of Piff the Magic Dragon in Las Vegas.

“It feels like we were able to show a lot of the material we did in that [smaller] room, and now when people watch the special and then come to see the show, they’ll get an all new experience,” he says.

Reptile Dysfunction is packed with live performance filmed at Bugsy’s Cabaret before the COVID shutdown, but it also includes plenty of more recent footage following Piff up and down the Strip as he interacts with Vegas visitors and fans. His showgirl partner-in-crime, Jade Symone, and his costumed chihuahua sidekick, Mr. Piffles, share plenty of screen time, and Penn Jillette returns to the character of Pop the Magic Dragon, Piff’s ne’er-do-well dad.

“Penn is great to work with. You give him a line and he’ll deliver it five different ways,” Piff says. The two magicians work together like hand-in-glove. “That was the goal, to make it feel fresh. And he definitely goes crazy with the character. It’s a very different Penn than what you usually see.”

While the special marks a fitting sendoff to the show’s previous version and venue, it was also a vast learning experience for Piff, who helmed the production and completed it with his own team.

Penn Jillette as Pop the Magic Dragon in ‘Reptile Dysfunction’

Penn Jillette as Pop the Magic Dragon in ‘Reptile Dysfunction’

“It was basically like making a film, shooting scenes we knew would fit with the show and cutting some things and reshooting others. In the end, we had so much material to choose from that it was difficult to cut some of our favorite pieces,” he says. “But there was never a deadline to put it out. We wanted to get it all nicely finished and ready to be seen, and I think it’s different from the usual comedy specials.”

With the extended cast, extensive magic and back-and-forth rhythm from the stage to Strip scenes, it definitely distinguishes itself from the dozens of streaming comedy specials easily finding audiences these days. And there’s a whole lot of Vegas peeking through, which was important for Piff to showcase, too. “It’s great being part of the scene here and being able to show what we love about Vegas.”

Now it’s all about the magical future, which will see Piff resume a co-headlining tour with sad singing clown Puddles Pity Party and continue to develop new pieces for the Flamingo show, like a bit where Mr. Piffles produces any kind of cocktail requested by an audience member.

“It’s based on a very old trick where you have a tea kettle and a spectator asks for a specific drink and you pour out of the kettle,” Piff says, “only instead of that, you have a dog, and instead of the spout, well, you can work the rest out.”

PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON Thursday-Monday, 7 p.m., $42-$78+. Flamingo Showroom, 855-234-7469, ticketmaster.com.

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Brock Radke

An award-winning writer who has been living and working in Las Vegas for more than 20 years, Brock Radke is ...

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