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Brian Allen Brushwood (born January 17, 1975) is an American magician, podcaster, author, lecturer and comedian. Brushwood is known for the series Scam School, a show where he teaches the audience entertaining tricks at bars so they can "scam" a free drink. The show also claims to be the only show dedicated to social engineering at the bar and on the street. In addition to Scam School, Brushwood co-hosts the podcasts Weird Things with Andrew Mayne and Justin Robert Young, Cordkillers with Tom Merritt, and Night Attack with Young. Brushwood was also a regular guest on the This Week in Tech podcast. Brushwood performs his Bizarre Magic stage show across the United States and is the author of six books. Brushwood also co-hosts a YouTube show along with Jason Murphy called The Modern Rogue. Brushwood has appeared on national television numerous times including on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, CNN and Food Network.

Brian Brushwood
Brian Brushwood.jpg
Birth name Brian Allen Brushwood
Born (1975-01-17) January 17, 1975 (age 42)
Fountain Valley, California
Medium Live, Television, IPTV, MP3
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin
Genres Magic (illusion)
Subject(s) Confidence tricks; Fire eating
Spouse Bonnie Brushwood[1]
Children 3
Notable works and roles Scam School
Weird Things
Night Attack
Hacking The System with Jason Murphy
Modern Rogue with Jason Murphy
Website Brian Brushwood: Bizarre Magic



Brushwood was born in Fountain Valley.[2] As a child, Brushwood received a magic kit on Christmas Day one year.[3] During his time as a student at the University of Texas at Austin, Brushwood rediscovered his interest in magic, performing his first paid shows by filling in for another magician whose schedule was too full.[1] This interest in magic led Brushwood to perform a 45-minute magic show as his senior thesis.[1]

As an undergraduate, Brushwood attended Dr. Rory Coker's Pseudoscience class which introduced him to scientific skepticism.[4] Dr. Coker mentored Brushwood for his senior thesis and has invited Brushwood back as an alumnus to help demonstrate concepts in his class.[4]

Brushwood graduated from the Plan II honors program at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997.[1] After graduation, Brushwood married his wife, Bonnie, and began testing video games for Rockwell Semiconductors, followed by a career at Dell where he designed high end computer systems.[1] During his time at Dell, Brushwood moonlighted as a magician on Wednesday nights at The Electric Lounge in Austin, Texas while The Asylum Street Spankers took their break.[1] In 1999 Brushwood was offered a raise at Dell and realized he wasn't following his passion so he made the decision to quit working at Dell and to start performing his Bizarre Magic show full-time.[1][5][6]

When a television deal fell through, Brushwood decided to look into Internet broadcasting where he would be able to have more control over the product and process. After filming several episodes of Brian Brushwood: On The Road Brushwood got the idea for Scam School. He originally intended to produce it independently but eventually sold the idea to Revision 3 and the first episode aired on April 6, 2008.[1] Revision 3's location in San Francisco required Brushwood to travel to California to shoot episodes of Scam School, usually a dozen at a time due to travel expenses. In October 2008 one of Brushwood's childhood heroes, Richard Garriott, performed a magic trick he learned from Scam School while he was aboard the International Space Station.[4][7] When Discovery Digital Networks purchased Revision 3 Brushwood used it as an opportunity to move production of Scam School from the San Francisco Bay area to Austin, Texas where he currently lives with his wife and three children.[1][8]


Brian Brushwood eating fire at TWiT's Grand Opening party
Brian "Shwood" Brushwood and Evan Bernstein during a live recording of The Geologic Podcast at Dragon*Con 2011 in Atlanta, GA
Veronica Belmont and Brushwood preparing for the Game On! internet show 13 November 2011

Stage showEdit

Brushwood started his professional stage show in 1999[9] and now performs 100–200 live shows each year on college campuses across the United States.[10] His Bizarre Magic show combines old sideshow stunts, mind reading, traditional magic and comedy.[11] Conversations with audience members after performances inspired Brushwood to develop his Scams, Sasquatch, and the Supernatural lecture in 2004.[10][12][13] Its content was derived from the pseudoscience course Brushwood took as an undergraduate[12] and covers paranormal topics and how to detect fakes. Brushwood's Social Engineering: Scam Your Way Into Anything Or From Anybody lecture[14] was initially developed for the 2009 South by Southwest Interactive panel with the same name.[4][15][16]

In the September 3, 2010 episode of the Point of Inquiry podcast, host Karen Stollznow asked Brushwood about myth debunking in his various shows. Brushwood responded,

Part of the reason I love educating the masses as how to deceive is from my experience, because I got into magic before I took this pseudoscience and paranormal course, so I had these tools on how to fool people and I just had this vague understanding that people are really easy to fool, and it's not that we are broken, or dumb, or bad, or whatever. It's that the brain is built a certain way and magicians take advantage of that. And, it was only after taking the pseudoscience class that it crystallized everything and I realized that that's exactly what scam artists do as well. So, if I can get more people familiar with the tools and familiar with how easy it is to deceive other people, maybe more people will begin to question their own experiences.[17]


Brushwood's signature hairstyle was modeled after Guile from Street Fighter II[18] and takes nine minutes to set up. It is maintained with pomade and beeswax. Brushwood stated he can sleep on it without the style being disturbed and that it is low maintenance.[10] Episode 23 of Brushwood's web series Brian Brushwood On The Road is a demonstration of how the style is created.[19] Brushwood retired the hair style in 2012 citing his age and television projects as reasons for its discontinuation.[18]

Mr. HappypantsEdit

Mr. Happypants is a voodoo puppet that makes appearances in Brushwood's stage show and podcasts. Brushwood thought it would be fun if the character had a cute name but turned out to be mean, intending to come up with a better name later. While Mr. Happypants started off as a mean character he eventually evolved into pure evil and speaks through Brushwood with the assistance of a voice distorter.[20] The first reported appearance of Mr. Happypants' evil incarnation during a stage show was in the comedy competition at a Texas Association of Magicians conference.[21] Mr. Happypants' podcast debut was in Episode 6 of Brushwood's web series Brian Brushwood on the Road.[21]


Brushwood's first national television appearance was on the April 18, 2000 episode of The Roseanne Show talk show where he performed the trick of shoving a nail in one eye and having it pop out the other.[6][22] Brushwood has appeared twice on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno where he performed the "human crazy straw"[23] and impressed Ed Asner with his "spinning cups" routine.[24] Brushwood appeared in a segment on Anderson Cooper 360° where he taught Sanjay Gupta "the human blockhead".[25] In CNN's Life Beyond Limits Brushwood taught Gupta how to eat fire.[26] Brushwood also discussed eating fire on Food Network's Unwrapped,[27] and appeared on Paula's Party where he ate fire and helped make a s'more brûlée.[28] Brushwood has also appeared on Debra Duncan,[29] The Jenny Jones Show,[30] Unscrewed with Martin Sargent,[31] Steve Harvey's Big Time Challenge,[32] and Ricki Lake.[33]

Brushwood starred, with co-host Jason Murphy, in Hacking the System that premiered on February 27, 2014 on the National Geographic Channel.[34]


  • Brushwood, Brian; Johnson, C.J. (2000), Pack the House! The Ultimate, Ever-Growing Guide to Increasing Attendance at YOUR Campus Events, Bizarre Magic, Inc., ISBN 978-0971364615 
  • Brushwood, Brian (2000), Cheats, Cons, Swindles, and Tricks: 57 Ways to Scam a Free Drink, Bizarre Magic, Inc., ASIN B005D38QQO 
  • Brushwood, Brian (2002), The Professional's Guide to Fire Eating, Bizarre Magic, Inc., ISBN 978-0971364608, OCLC 224122749 
  • Brushwood, Brian; Tilton, Jon (2012), Scam School Book 1: Smoke, Bizarre Magic, Inc., ASIN B007FRUNK8 
  • Brushwood, Brian; Tilton, Jon (2012), Scam School Book 2: Fire, Bizarre Magic, Inc., ASIN B008B8L6YM 
  • Brushwood, Brian; Tilton, Jon; Hughes, Brandt (2013), Scam School: Your Guide to Scoring Free Drinks, Doing Magic & Becoming the Life of the Party, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 978-1620878545, OCLC 816030432 

Internet broadcastingEdit


Justin Robert Young and Brian Brushwood hosting a show at Dragon*Con 2013
Show Description Premiere
Scam School Brushwood explains magic, street cons, scams and entertaining tricks so watchers can "scam" a free drink off their friends. You and Brian should become best friends on Twitter, there is no 'c' in Shwood 6 April 2008
Weird Things Hosts Brushwood, Justin Robert Young and Andrew Mayne discuss supernatural and strange reports in the news. News reports are often introduced by Andrew Mayne presenting scenarios where his co-hosts must respond to the events of a report as Mayne reveals an increasing amount of detail. Weird Things airs live on Diamond Club.TV and Alpha Geek Radio on Monday afternoons. 19 October 2009
Behind The Scam Originally starting with the live format of Scam School Live, Behind the Scam moved to a shorter five-minute format where Brushwood interacts with fans of Scam School by answering their questions and showing how episodes are made. 14 January 2013
Cordkillers A continuation of Frame Rate independently hosted and produced by Brushwood and Tom Merritt with weekly discussions of television, movies and Internet video. CordKillers airs live on Diamond Club.TV and Alpha Geek Radio on Monday nights 23 December 2013
Night Attack A continuation of the former NSFW, hosted by Brushwood and Justin Robert Young. Night Attack airs live on Diamond Club.TV and Alpha Geek Radio on Tuesday nights 4 March 2014
The Modern Rogue Brushwood and co-host Murphy from Hacking the System, have continued the series on their own new Modern Rogue channel. The series is based on life hacks and crazy experiments and is released every Friday. 14 December 2015


Show Description Air Dates Episodes
Brian Brushwood: On The Road Brushwood developed this series as a way to get experience with creating online video.[12] It includes highlights from his career as a stage performer. 5 September 2006 –
7 December 2008
BBLiveShow Brushwood created this series as a "safe place to be bad" while he refined his talents as a video podcaster.[1] Brushwood was joined weekly by co-host Justin Robert Young. The show's regular guests included, Brett Rounsaville, Owen JJ Stone, and his brother Jay Brushwood. Other guests included The Totally Rad Show's Jeff Cannata and Dan Trachtenberg, Film Riot's Ryan Connolly, Josh Connolly and Timmy Allen, Jay Adelson, Martin Sargent and Daniel Garcia. An "after show" typically followed the live broadcast and was not included in the podcast. The show eventually became NSFW on the TWiT Network. 1 January 2009 –
10 January 2012
NSFW A weekly continuation of BBLiveShow co-hosted by Justin Robert Young. The show was recorded live on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Pacific Time and promoted interaction with the audience via a chat room. Typical episodes begin with a viral video and a few games before moving on to the main event which takes up the second half of the show. When the show ended on TWiT it was renamed Night Attack and is now independently produced by Brushwood as a part of Diamond Club TV. 24 November 2009 –
24 February 2014
Frame Rate A weekly show that was recorded on Mondays at 3 p.m. Pacific Time where hosts Bruswood and Tom Merritt discussed films, television and Internet video. It was succeeded by Cordkillers. 10 November 2010 –
16 December 2013
DIAF NSFW co-hosts Brushwood and Young read chapters of an audiobook written by members of the NSFW audience. 29 December 2010 –
29 May 2011
Scam School Live A weekly live show in which Brushwood and a co-host would interact with fans of Scam School. It was succeeded by Behind the Scam. 14 April 2011 –
18 May 2011
The Cantina Band Brushwood and co-host Adam Paulauski discussed various aspects of Star Wars: The Old Republic 15 August 2011 –
20 October 2012
Game On! A weekly live broadcast recorded on Sundays at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Its beta episode aired on 13 November 2011 with regular episodes began on 15 January 2012. Written by Justin Robert Young and co-hosted by Brushwood and Veronica Belmont the show discussed video games and apps. 14 November 2011 –
8 April 2012
Too Long Didn't Listen A gaming podcast that was co-hosted by Brushwood and James "Elrar" Nichols (former community manager for Trion Worlds) where they discussed Two topics in 30 minutes or your next podcast is free." Brushwood joined Too Long Didn't Listen as a co-host on its relaunch in Episode 68. 3 October 2013 –
7 May 2014


Night Attack

  • Released: 28 September 2011
  • Format: MP3
  • Label: Brian Brushwood and Justin Robert Young
  • Chart position: No. 4 – Billboard Comedy Albums (29 October 2011)[35]

Night Attack 2: Enjoy the Garden

  • Released: 20 April 2013
  • Format: MP3
  • Label: Brian Brushwood and Justin Robert Young
  • Chart position: No. 1 – Billboard Comedy Albums (4 May 2013,[36] 11 May 2013)[37]

Night Attack (Live)

  • Released: 22 October 2013
  • Format: MP3
  • Label: Brian Brushwood and Justin Robert Young
  • Chart position: No. 1 – Billboard Comedy Albums (16 November 2013)[38]


  • 1995 – Winner – Best Comedy Magic – Texas Association of Magicians[citation needed]
  • 1998 – Winner – Best Club Magic – Texas Association of Magicians[citation needed]
  • 2002 – Winner – Best Stage Magic – Texas Association of Magicians[39]
  • 2003 – Voted – Variety Entertainer of the Year –[citation needed]
  • 2008 – iTunes Top Video Podcast – Scam School[14]
  • 2009 – iTunes Top Video Podcast – Scam School[14]
  • 2010 – iTunes Top Audio Podcast – NSFW[14]
  • 2011 – Billboard #4 Comedy Album – Night Attack[35]
  • 2013 – Billboard #1 Comedy Album – Night Attack 2: Enjoy The Garden[36][37]
  • 2013 – Billboard #1 Comedy Album – Night Attack (Live)[38]
  • 2015 – People's Choice Podcast Award for Mature – Night Attack[40]
  • 2015 – People's Choice Podcast Award for Best Video – Night Attack[41]
  • 2016 – People's Choice Podcast Award for Education – Scam School[42]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Fidelity of Presence (Brian Brushwood)". Capital. Dan Benjamin and 5by5 Productions LLC. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Junior, Ed (2005). Variety Acts: Gaining Respect. Bloomington, IL: AuthorHouse. pp. 15–19. ISBN 1-4208-4598-5. 
  3. ^ "Brian Brushwood Live QandA". YouTube. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Scam School". Skepticality. 30 June 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Stanton, Mike. "Brian Brushwood's bizarre magic wows audience | The Collegian". Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Becknell, Vanessa (12 April 2012). "Between the Pages With Author and "Bizarre Magician" Brian Brushwood". Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Magic Tricks in Space – Scam School". YouTube. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  8. ^ Walsh, Katie (20 Ocober 2015). "UT alumnus shares secrets behind magic tricks on YouTube channel". Retrieved 7 January 2018.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Whitney, Daisy (22 June 2009). "On the Horizon: Brian Brushwood". TVWeek. Crain Communications Inc. Retrieved 7 August 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Saunders, Richard (17 September 2010). "Episode #100". The Skeptic Zone. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Tran, Quan. "Bizarre Magic: Brian Brushwood". Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c "Podcast #205 - June 16th, 2009". The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  13. ^ "Scams, Sasquatch, and the Supernatural Full Lecture". YouTube. 29 October 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c d "Brian Brushwood". Secular Student Alliance. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  15. ^ "Scam your way into anything! (Brian's SXSW panel part 1)". TestTube. Discovery Communications, LLC. 27 May 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "Scam your way into anything panel (part 2), plus bonus Q&A!". TestTube. Discovery Communications, LLC. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Brian Brushwood - Scams, Swindles and Skepticism". Point of Inquiry. Center for Inquiry. 3 September 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  18. ^ a b "Too Long; Didn't Listen Episode 68 – Character Genders and Death". MMO Reporter. 3 October 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "Crazy Videogame Hair in 9 Minutes – Ep 23 BBOTR". YouTube. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Episode 1". BBLiveShow. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "Episode 6 – Brian Brushwood on the Road". YouTube. 16 October 2006. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  22. ^ The Roseanne Show. 18 April 2000. CBS. 
  23. ^ The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. 26 November 2001. NBC. 
  24. ^ The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. 26 March 2009. NBC. 
  25. ^ Anderson Cooper 360°. 5 May 2004. CNN. 
  26. ^ Life Beyond Limits. 9 May 2004. CNN. 
  27. ^ "Atomic". Unwrapped. 27 February 2006. Food Network. 
  28. ^ "Fire and Ice". Paula's Party. 14 September 2007. Food Network. 
  29. ^ Debra Duncan. 21 June 2001. ABC. 
  30. ^ Jenny Jones. 15 October 2002. NBC. 
  31. ^ Unscrewed with Martin Sargent. 18 August 2003. Tech TV. 
  32. ^ Steve Harvey's Big Time Challenge. 12 October 2003. WB. 
  33. ^ Ricki Lake. 19 November 2003. Sony Pictures Television Distribution. 
  34. ^ Neill, Johnny (26 February 2014). "Interview with Brian Brushwood from 'Hacking the System'". The TV Dudes. Archived from the original on 11 January 2015. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  35. ^ a b "Comedy Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  36. ^ a b "Comedy Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  37. ^ a b "Comedy Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  38. ^ a b "Comedy Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  39. ^ "2002 Convention Fort Worth". Texas Association of Magicians. Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  40. ^ "Podcast Award Winners 2005-2014". Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  41. ^ "Podcast Award Winners 2005-2014". Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  42. ^ "11th Podcast Awards Winner Announcement". Archived from the original on 27 May 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 

External linksEdit