Brian Brushwood

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Brian Brushwood
Brian Brushwood - 20140831-173242-Dragoncon-04777 (15341605866) (cropped).jpg
Brushwood in 2014
Birth nameBrian Allen Brushwood
Born (1975-01-17) January 17, 1975 (age 47)
Fountain Valley, California
MediumLive, Television, IPTV, MP3
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Austin
GenresMagic (illusion) YouTube
Subject(s)Confidence tricks; Fire eating
SpouseBonnie Brushwood[1]
Notable works and rolesScam School
Weird Things
Night Attack
Hacking The System (with Jason Murphy)
Modern Rogue (with Jason Murphy)
WebsiteBrian Brushwood: Bizarre Magic

Brian Allen Brushwood (born January 17, 1975) is an American magician, podcaster, author, lecturer, YouTuber and comedian. Brushwood is known for the series Scam Nation (previously 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 Nation, 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.


Brushwood was born in Fountain Valley, California.[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 Rory Coker's pseudoscience class which introduced him to scientific skepticism.[4] 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 show[edit]

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 took nine minutes to set up. It was maintained with pomade and beeswax. Brushwood stated he could sleep on it without the style being disturbed, and that it was 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 hairstyle in 2012, citing his age and television projects as reasons for its discontinuation.[18] As of March 7, 2018, Brushwood sports a short fringe parted to one side, complemented by a neatly trimmed beard of modest length.[20]

Mr. Happypants[edit]

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.[21] 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.[22] Mr. Happypants' podcast debut was in Episode 6 of Brushwood's web series Brian Brushwood on the Road.[22]


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][23] Brushwood has appeared twice on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno where he performed the "human crazy straw"[24] and his "spinning cups" routine.[25] Brushwood appeared in a segment on Anderson Cooper 360° where he taught Sanjay Gupta "the human blockhead".[26] In CNN's Life Beyond Limits Brushwood taught Gupta how to eat fire.[27] Brushwood also discussed eating fire on Food Network's Unwrapped,[28] and appeared on Paula's Party where he ate fire and helped make a s'more brûlée.[29] Brushwood has also appeared on Debra Duncan,[30] The Jenny Jones Show,[31] Unscrewed with Martin Sargent,[32] Steve Harvey's Big Time Challenge,[33] and Ricki Lake.[34]

Brushwood starred, with co-host Jason Murphy, in Hacking the System that premiered on February 27, 2014 on the National Geographic Channel.[35]


  • 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 broadcasting[edit]

Justin Robert Young and Brian Brushwood hosting a show at Dragon*Con 2013
Show Description Premiere
Scam School(Scam Nation as of 2019) Brushwood explains magic, street cons, scams and entertaining tricks so watchers can "scam" a free drink off their friends. 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 Twitch 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(Great Night as of 2021) A continuation of the former NSFW, hosted by Brushwood and Justin Robert Young. Great Night airs live on Diamond Club.TV and Twitch on Tuesday evenings at 1800 CST. 4 March 2014
The Modern Rogue Brian Brushwood and Jason Murphy together teach what they describe as the three pillars of a Modern Rogue. Each episode, released every Friday, focuses on one of the three pillars, teaching their audience the ways of the warrior, gentleman, and scoundrel. The Modern Rogue works with businesses from Austin, Texas whose practices align with that of the Modern Rogue. Episodes include making homemade gas masks, mounted archery, beer and whiskey episodes, martial arts and various other disciplines. 14 December 2015


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)[36]

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,[37] 11 May 2013)[38]

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)[39]


  • 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[40]
  • 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[36]
  • 2013 – Billboard #1 Comedy Album – Night Attack 2: Enjoy The Garden[37][38]
  • 2013 – Billboard #1 Comedy Album – Night Attack (Live)[39]
  • 2015 – People's Choice Podcast Award for Mature – Night Attack[41]
  • 2015 – People's Choice Podcast Award for Best Video – Night Attack[42]
  • 2016 – People's Choice Podcast Award for Education – Scam School[43]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Fidelity of Presence (Brian Brushwood)". Capital. Dan Benjamin and 5by5 Productions LLC. 27 September 2013. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  2. ^ Junior, Ed (2005). Variety Acts: Gaining Respect. Bloomington, Illinois: AuthorHouse. pp. 15–19. ISBN 1-4208-4598-5.
  3. ^ Brushwood, Brian (October 29, 2014). "Brian Brushwood Live Video Q&A with Full Circle Magic". Full Circle Magic. Retrieved 2 October 2015 – via YouTube.
  4. ^ a b c d "Scam School". 30 June 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  5. ^ Stanton, Mike. "Brian Brushwood's bizarre magic wows audience". 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. Retrieved 29 July 2014 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ Walsh, Katie (20 October 2015). "UT alumnus shares secrets behind magic tricks on YouTube channel". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  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 "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. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  15. ^ "Scam your way into anything! (Brian's SXSW panel part 1)". TestTube. Discovery Communications, LLC. 27 May 2009. Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  16. ^ "Scam your way into anything panel (part 2), plus bonus Q&A!". TestTube. Discovery Communications, LLC. 4 June 2009. Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. 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. ^ "Magical Miracle Dice!". YouTube. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Episode 1". BBLiveShow. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  22. ^ a b "Episode 6 – Brian Brushwood on the Road". YouTube. 16 October 2006. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  23. ^ The Roseanne Show. 18 April 2000. CBS.
  24. ^ The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. 26 November 2001. NBC.
  25. ^ The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. 26 March 2009. NBC.
  26. ^ Anderson Cooper 360°. 5 May 2004. CNN.
  27. ^ Life Beyond Limits. 9 May 2004. CNN.
  28. ^ "Atomic". Unwrapped. 27 February 2006. Food Network.
  29. ^ "Fire and Ice". Paula's Party. 14 September 2007. Food Network.
  30. ^ Debra Duncan. 21 June 2001. ABC.
  31. ^ Jenny Jones. 15 October 2002. NBC.
  32. ^ Unscrewed with Martin Sargent. 18 August 2003. Tech TV.
  33. ^ Steve Harvey's Big Time Challenge. 12 October 2003. WB.
  34. ^ Ricki Lake. 19 November 2003. Sony Pictures Television Distribution.
  35. ^ 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.
  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. ^ a b "Comedy Albums". Billboard. Archived from the original on 2014-08-26. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  40. ^ "2002 Convention Fort Worth". Texas Association of Magicians. Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  41. ^ "Podcast Award Winners 2005-2014". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  42. ^ "Podcast Award Winners 2005-2014". Retrieved 7 July 2016.
  43. ^ "11th Podcast Awards Winner Announcement". Archived from the original on 27 May 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2016.

External links[edit]