Michael Goudeau: A Magician’s Best Friend

Aug13 web coverSeveral years ago, Michael Goudeau and I sat around atable with Penn Jillette, Teller, and Johnny Thompson brainstorming ideas for a TV special called Penn & Teller: Off the Deep End. Creating material for this special was challenging because much of the magic would be performed under water.

Someone (it might have been me, I don’t recall) suggested that we experiment to find out whether a Squirmle (the slum magic item) could be manipulated under water. I was put in charge of this particular project, and Lisa and I spent several days trying to construct a large version of the Squirmle that would work. (The slum-item Squirmle fell apart when submerged.) We finally made one that did the job.

In the meantime, Michael Goudeau came up with a gag to showcase the newly-dubbed “Bahamian Sea Slug.” The idea was that Teller (while under water) would manipulate the slug as Penn explained that they were harmless, except during mating season. At that moment, forty more sea slugs would swim out from behind Teller’s back and between his legs, all trying to mate with the slug Teller was manipulating. To accomplish this, Goudeau designed a harness that Teller could wear that would hold forty slugs all attached to fishing lines that could be pulled while he hid out of frame. The harness was built, the extra slugs were manufactured, a couple of extra “hero” slugs were made, and the whole thing was shipped to Nassau for the shoot. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, the bit was never taped.


I learned two important things from this experience: 1) Never do a magic show under water. 2) If you need a guy to create and build great gags, a person who can keep his cool regardless of how crazy a situation gets, go to Michael Goudeau.

If you ever saw Lance Burton’s full-evening show in Las Vegas, you probably saw Michael Goudeau. He worked with Lance for nineteen years. This alone would make him an interesting subject for a magic magazine, but there is much more to Goudeau than just being the variety act in a magic show. Goudeau has been a writer for many Penn & Teller projects, was the co-host for Penn’s syndicated radio show, and is the go-to problem-solving guy for big name magicians around the world.

To top it all off, Michael Goudeau is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He is also one of the cheeriest people I’ve ever met. I could try to attribute this cheerfulness to the fact that he doesn’t really understand what’s going on, but that isn’t the case; Goudeau has a deep intelligence and has an amazing knowledge of an amazing number of things.

Read Michael Close’s interview with Michael Goudeau in the August issue of M-U-M by Clicking HERE.

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