By Dale Roe, special to the American-Statesman
I’m not sure if Mr. Piffles is an old dog, but Thursday at Stateside, he pulled off a few new tricks. The nearly-catatonic Chihuahua performs as the sidekick of Piff the Magic Dragon, a laconic hybrid of magician and comedian.
Are you looking for the oddity part of the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival? The duo (runners-up on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”) qualifies. Both man and beast are dressed in cartoon-green, cloth dragon outfits festooned with patches and pockets (27 of the latter, according to Piff’s recent count).
The Las Vegas headliner’s act ably straddles the comedy/magic line, drawing laughs from the audience (many of them at the Chihuahua’s expense) while mixing a few silly tricks with some genuinely baffling minor miracles. One memorable bit was a mind-reading trick performed by the headliner’s guest, “Chris Angelfish” – a forgetful, self-promoting goldfish swimming at first in a glass and later, distressingly, in a blender.
Piff’s impatient onstage behavior resulted in a lot of laughs during his crowd work with several audience members who assisted him onstage, and his well-timed inclusions of Mr. Piffles never failed to elicit a chorus of “awws” or “ews” from the crowd, depending on how the performer was handling (or mishandling) him. Occasional, cringe-inducing sound effects aside, no animals were harmed during this show.
Unfortunately, Thursday’s show was marred by the behavior of a particularly rude heckler (I thought we were over this, Austin). Piff deftly silenced the troublemaker in the first half of the show, but was less effective later when the same pest again drew attention away from the stage and toward himself. Security guards eventually made their presence known and the rabble-rouser behaved for the show’s remaining few minutes.
I know I wasn’t the only one wishing Piff could have made him disappear.
(Piff the Magic Dragon and Mr. Piffles perform at 7 p.m. Friday, April 22 at Stateside at the Paramount.)