DailyShowFilter: Last night, Vitto Mortensen pulled reptiles from his coffee cup.
September 28, 2005 8:28 AM   Subscribe

DailyShowFilter: Last night, Vitto Mortensen pulled reptiles from his coffee cup...

I dunno how many of you watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (heh!), but last night Vitto Mortensen was the guest. Shortly into the interview, Vitto started pulling what appeared to be rubber snakes (2' long!) and lizards from his coffee cup -- all the while, acting as if Jon had played a childish prank on him. At first, Jon appeared surprised and intrigued by the trick, but quickly caught onto the "bit" and played along. Given Jon's reaction, I'm assuming the mug was not pre-stuffed with reptile toys beforehand. Two minutes later, Vitto pulled a bunch of much smaller reptiles toys from his coat pocket, "revealing" the trick, but, well, not really...

So I played back the scene (TiVo) over and over, and it's *possible* that Vitto palmed something into his coffee mug, but it's a pretty slick move. My best guess is that the smaller toys are actually water-absorbing-and-growing toys, and Vitto dropped them in the mug himself. (One more clue is that at one point Jon referred to the beverage as water -- not coffee.) The only hitch in this theory is that he started pulling the first snake out of the mug just 10-15 seconds after his alleged palm move -- I wouldn't think water-absorption toys would have time to expand.

Any slight-of-hand magicians / Jon Stewart fans care to better explain how the trick was done?

What a great party trick!
posted by LordSludge to Grab Bag (25 answers total)
I was under the assumption that the staff or someone had put the gags inside the cup beforehand. They didn't look like the kind that grow larger in water, and the amount stuffed must have been done beforehand if they were plastic. The whole bit was sort of weird. Stewart needs to take some interview lessons badly.
posted by geoff. at 8:37 AM on September 28, 2005

Viggo Mortensen? Anyway, lacking footage, is it possible he was pulling them out of his sleeve? A telltale sign would be whether any of the things he pulled out of the cup were dripping.

That said, if it was hot water, could it have been those classic animal-shaped sponges that are in a little plastic capsule? Those things expand in seconds if you have warm water to melt the shells.
posted by mikeh at 8:38 AM on September 28, 2005

odinsdream, they looked clearly plastic and with very bright solid colors. If I remember correctly, one of the snakes was patterened. Am I just hallucinating or can this be done with those sponge toys?
posted by geoff. at 8:39 AM on September 28, 2005

They were rubber, not sponges. I recognized 'em as there's a store that sells the exact same things (same colors, shapes) not too far from my house. With the amount that he put in there, they had to be put in either before the shot started by a PA (or Viggo) or while the camera was still on Stewart introducing Mortenson.
posted by klangklangston at 8:42 AM on September 28, 2005

Response by poster: Sure, this can be a general AskMe about last night's Daily Show. So many unanswered questions...

Oops -- apparently it's "Viggo". Sorry 'bout that!
posted by LordSludge at 8:49 AM on September 28, 2005

Was that really Stephen Colbert in the recording?

No, it was Steve Carell, which is what Stewart said.

As for the snake in the cup, I'm nearly certain that a staffperson planted it there. There was water in the cup, so how could Mortensen have snuck it in there on camera without causing a splash?
posted by cerebus19 at 8:50 AM on September 28, 2005

This is a good question. They were definitely rubber, not espanding sponges. At first, it seemed that they were placed there by the staff as a prank, but then Viggo started taking out way more rubber critters from his jacket pockets, implying that he was the one pulling the prank. I still don't know how it was done, I'm just clarifying some of the points.

And I'm pretty sure that was Colbert in the recording. The last sentence or so was the most recognizeable part.
posted by stopgap at 8:52 AM on September 28, 2005

The video isn't up yet, but it should be available here later today.
posted by stopgap at 8:54 AM on September 28, 2005

I had to go back with my TiVo as well. I trained as a magician for a few years, and I really don't believe the items were palmed, unless the editing obscured the load. They definitely were not loaded as he went to pull them out.

I'd guess Viggo had the PA load them ahead of time.
posted by CaptApollo at 9:02 AM on September 28, 2005

Response by poster: Maybe the first snake was rubber, and Viggo dropped the (squished-tight) sponge lizards in the cup as he palmed the rubber snake?

FWIW, I don't know that he actually dropped the entire snake in the cup. I'm thinking he palmed the snake and maybe just let the tail of it actually droop into the cup so that he could "pull it out". The back of his hand was to the camera the entire time.

Also, from the time he first touched his mug to the time he started pulling toys from it, I don't believe the camera cut away once.

I'm really hoping an amateur magician will pop in here and go: "Oh yes, the ole snakes in the coffee trick..." (But then we'll have to beat the answer out of them!)
posted by LordSludge at 9:06 AM on September 28, 2005

By the by, those opaque "coffee" cups on talk shows are always filled with water. Who wants a big swig of joe when their throat's all dried up from that hilarious anecdote they just told?
posted by deadfather at 9:25 AM on September 28, 2005

Viggo pulled the snakes & lizards from his sleeve, palmed them and pretended to pull them from his coffee cup.

And yes, Steven Colbert is a big Lord of The Rings fan.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:39 AM on September 28, 2005

Was that really Stephen Colbert in the recording?
No, it was Steve Carell, which is what Stewart said.

I heard him say Stephen Colbert too. Which makes sense... Colbert is a known Tolkien mega-nerd, and he did a little bit showing off his nerdiness when Elijah Wood was on.

As to the original question, I'm leaning on the side of guessing that a member of the crew put them in beforehand. Like Lord Sludge, I rewound the footage and checked to see if he'd dropped anything into the cup, and I sure didn't see it. Plus, the first thing he pulled out was a very large rubber snake, and I don't think it would be very easy to palm that.

I'm pretty sure they weren't sponges. Just going by looks here.
posted by Hildago at 9:46 AM on September 28, 2005

then Viggo started taking out way more rubber critters from his jacket pockets

Isn't this the giveaway? I doubt if a member of the crew loaded Viggo's jacket with rubber snakes and lizards before the show. "No, Mr. Mortensen, we do this with all our guests. Now hold still."
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:00 AM on September 28, 2005

Is Viggo Mortensen as cool as he seems? Because he seems pretty cool. Are his books any good, or just celebrity published dreck? I can't think of a cooler celebrity than the Viggenheimer. Seriously.
posted by craniac at 10:44 AM on September 28, 2005

I think it's interesting that we all saw the same thing but all have such different interpretations of what happened (or remember things incorrectly). I only saw it once, no TiVo, and it looked like:

Viggo was pulling the prank- he either planted the stuff (rubber lizards) before hand or was palming it,

and it was Stephen Colbert who nerded out on LOTR, not Steve Carell.

...further evidence of why I never want to stand trial against "eyewitness" testimony... (12 Angry Men anyone?)
posted by starman at 10:46 AM on September 28, 2005

Fuzzy Monster wins.
posted by waldo at 11:45 AM on September 28, 2005

Steve Carell isn't on staff anymore anyway - now that he's a big shot movie star. It was Stephen Colbert.

What's that theory that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one? It would be simple for Viggo to have a PA put the snakes in the cup. Not so simple to try some slight of hand tricks on TV.
posted by clh at 11:48 AM on September 28, 2005

Response by poster: To update my previous post/theory, maybe the long rubber (?) snake was up his sleeve.

Seems like a prank the guy has been doing for years to family and friends, adding elements to it as he went. Then finally he gets a chance to publicly spring it on an unsuspecting talk show host...
posted by LordSludge at 11:51 AM on September 28, 2005

Response by poster: clh: Occum's Razor. But it did seem like he pulled out far too much stuff to actually fit in the cup without overflowing the brim, esp if you consider the long, rubber snake.
posted by LordSludge at 11:53 AM on September 28, 2005

I tivo'd it last night and just watched it over and over.
I think he may have had the first snake in his mouth. His speech seemed a bit slurred before "drinking" from the mug (I've also done that trick before).

No matter how he did it, Viggo is now my "Favorite Person Ever" of the day.
posted by zerokey at 12:03 PM on September 28, 2005

It's up on the Daily Show website,

and here it is
posted by cyphill at 12:11 PM on September 28, 2005

I just watched it - the snakes were clearly in the mug before he took them out. You can see him look at the cup a couple times, once even before he sat down, to make sure that they were there as planned. You guys are all overanalyzing this!
posted by kdern at 12:40 PM on September 28, 2005

I'm going with the plant by the staff theory too. There were too many in there to plant himself. Though the "hidden in mouth" theory was interesting!

I thought the stunt was cool (to echo zerokey), but he came off as kind of a doofus for the rest of the interview.
posted by artifarce at 12:52 PM on September 28, 2005

odinsdream, the previous night's show is replayed at 8pm the following day (at least where I am).
posted by misterbrandt at 1:00 PM on September 28, 2005

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