Piff the Magic Dragon roars into the Englert

Snarky British comedian Piff the Magic Dragon to fly into Englert, along with the magic chihuahua, Mr. Piffles.

Adrian Enzastiga, Arts Reporter

We all have setbacks in life: a bad grade on a test, rejection for a certain job position, losing on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” These are all depressing situations. However, we don’t have to let these failures define who we are. We can overcome these obstacles and push forward.

For British comedian Piff the Magic Dragon, a former contestant on NBC’s 2015 season of “America’s Got Talent,” this outlook on life is an important one. Piff will stop at the Englert on March 2 as part of his “The Lucky Dragon” tour. The show will start at 8 p.m. and will last approximately 90 minutes.

Piff is more than just a snarky British comedian. He wears a green, red, and gold dragon costume and performs alongside his dazzling magic chihuahua, Mr. Piffles. He has performed from Australia to Vegas.

“I was a magician for a long time, like 10 years,” Piff said. “I was too grumpy to do the job because they would ask me to come and do their weddings or corporate dinner, and eventually, I was getting fired for being too grumpy.”

Piff said he was looking for something new to change his regular act.

“One day I went to a costume party, and I didn’t have any costume to wear, so I asked my sister. She said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got a dragon outfit.’ In the dragon outfit, I went in costume, just me, and now I’m super grumpy,” he said. “My friend said I should do this as an act. I could be Piff the Magic Dragon. So, I did it, and it was a big hit.”

Piff has been wearing his dragon costume for 10 years, but he still finds a way to make every show different by bringing audience members to the stage.

“At the moment, we do about 300, 400 shows a year. It means that we get to make sure everything is working, and funny, and well-honed whenever we do a show,” he said. “We use people on stage every night to help out with tricks. It means that every night is something different. A lot of the show is about improvising or interacting with people on stage.”

Another way he’s added to his shows, he said, is the legendary chihuahua Mr. Piffles, who joined him a year into his Piff career; they met while he was performing at a festival.

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“I was in an hourlong show, and I thought, ‘This act needs something extra,’ ” Piff said. “So the girl who was running the venue, she had a chihuahua, and we put the chihuahua in the show that the next day; we went out and found Mr. Piffles. He’s a rescue dog. He is the O.G.”

Piff gives a lot of credit to Mr. Piffles, saying the magic-performing chihuahua pretty much runs the show.

“He’s really the talent. I just hold the dog. People come up to me and say ‘I’m just here to see the dog.’ Oh well,” he said. “He does a lot of tricks, solves Rubik’s cubes, all that fun stuff. He’s a very talented individual. Like anyone, you have to study hard to be a magic-performing dog. I am amazed at how Mr. Piffles can fall asleep wherever we are.”

No other performer wears a dragon costume and interacts with a magic chihuahua on stage; it seems to be unique.

“It’s certainly a little bit different. You know, if you’re a grumpy guy, somebody could think that a grumpy guy in a dragon outfit is hilarious,” he said. “I’ve got a typical sense of English humor, which is dry and sarcastic. You have that with a cute dog, and apparently, people love it.”

He’s a very talented individual. Like anyone, you have to study hard to be a magic-performing dog.

— Piff the Magic Dragon

Despite losing NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” in 2015, Piff said, he wasn’t bothered. He even takes pride in being a loser, proclaiming himself as the loser of “America’s Got Talent”on many of his posters.

“I thought it’d be pretty funny to get to the end of the show and then shoot the dog out of a cannon,” he said. “If you’re a comedian, there’s nothing really funny about winning. I wasn’t too worried about it.”

From starting at a 10-minute show and now running up to 90 minutes, Piff said, his show hasn’t changed much in the 10 years that he has performed it. It requires a balance between spectacle and personality.

“We’ve come up with doing a bunch of different tricks over the years, and when we go somewhere, we try to do a whole bunch of new material,” he said. “We’ll do some new tricks and run some old favorites when we come to Iowa. We’re always putting in new material and new tricks. Without the tricks, there might be no show, but then, the jokes are what make the tricks fun.”