The minute John van der Put appeared on the 10th season of “America’s Got Talent” in 2015, eyeballs started to roll. The pint-size Englishman carried a suitcase, sported a frown and wore a dragon costume to perform magic tricks.
“My name is Piff the Magic Dragon,” he said. “You might have heard of my older brother . . . Steve.”
Both the crowd and the judges were hooked. His blend of dry humor and the wonderment of magic made him a top 10 finalist on “AGT.”
Since then, van der Put has been touring theaters throughout the country and will bring his all-ages act to The Paramount in Huntington on Friday, Feb. 9, for the third time.
ENTER THE DRAGON
In the earlier part of his career, van der Put, 37, struggled to make it as a magician.
“I kept getting fired everywhere for being grumpy. But, I wasn’t really grumpy, I just had a resting grumpy face,” he says. “I thought, ‘I need to do something here,’ as I was getting less and less work.”
One night, van der Put went to a party dressed in a dragon costume because he didn’t get the memo that the costume aspect of the party had been nixed. Regardless of his embarrassment, he was a hit.
“One of my friends said, ‘You should do this in your act,’ ” he recalls. “It worked straight away. Suddenly, I went from a grumpy guy to a grumpy guy in a dragon outfit, and apparently that’s hilarious. I added the magic and it took off.”
Although van der Put looks silly on stage, he completely ignores the fact that he’s in a dragon costume and presents his card tricks with edge and signature English wit.
“Typically people use a gimmick as a crutch,” he says. “I thought it would be funny to have a gimmick but make sure the magic is good and the show is funny.”
PARTNERING WITH MR. PIFFLES
The theme of his new show is “The Dog Who Knows,” which focuses on his partner, a little white Chihuahua named Mr. Piffles. Van der Put performs tricks with Mr. Piffles as he has the dog solving a Rubik’s Cube, reading minds and predicting the future.
“It’s unbelievable what this dog can do,” van der Put says. “You name any sports player, he can tell you their jersey number. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of sports trivia.”
Inspired by magicians Penn & Teller, comedian Jerry Seinfeld and comic actor Rowan Atkinson, van der Put has a charm that endears him to his fans.
“I’m happy, sad, heartbroken and flirty — all those different emotions on stage in a magic act. Because of that, the audience relates much more,” he says. “People warm up to it and love the little dragon.”
PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO 631-673-7300, paramountny.com