**EDIT*\* We listened to the full episode, live: https://youtu.be/7hs1O5cHWIA and you can grab it on the podcast app of your choice.

Howdy, Reddit! It's been a minute. If you already know me, let's talk about World's Greatest Con, Season 1 or 2, which launches today!

If you don't know me, we can talk about my 20 years of doing stage magic, Launching Scam School For Revision3/Discovery, Doing "Hacking the System" For National Geographic, Launching The Modern Rogue on YouTube, or remember that time that you guys helped us fake a bestselling erotic fiction novel.

Proof: Here's my proof!

**SECOND EDIT*\* I've gotta prep for our show http://cordkillers.com, but will check back in in a couple of hours. Thanks to everyone who has participated so far!

Comments: 423 • Responses: 62  • Date: 

charlesrubach100 karma

Brian, you seem like one of the happiest people on the planet. From your content online you are living your best life. Are you living your best life and if you are what is your secret?

ScamSchoolBrian218 karma

Real talk: I do sometimes get super-drained. Losing my brother and having the world catch fire over the last 2 years was pretty rough. But I try to remember each morning that I'm here to serve others, and that the tally is always the same: I owe you guys everything, and the world owes me nothing.

It's a simplification of the actual quote he said, but Einstein was alleged to have been asked "what is the purpose of life?" To which he's supposed to have said "It's obvious: to serve."

Even if that never got said, I've taken the sentiment pretty seriously. If I do my job just right, I'll maybe make a dent in the universe that will echo a fair bit long after I'm gone. That'd be pretty cool.

Markius-Fox95 karma

You've seen a lot of things and gone down many a rabbit hole for topics. Is there a topic (or two) that you dove into only to "nope" out of it, or disgusted you so much that you had to know more and got really deep in the weeds of that topic?

ScamSchoolBrian106 karma

Hm... can you give me an example? Closest I'm thinking of is when we poked around some darknet stuff. Just seeing some of those links (even if they were bogus) gave me chills.

(But then again, I'm a dad of 3 now, and a bit softer than I once was.)

nicktherat64 karma

Do you miss being on the road constantly? Do you miss the spikey hair? Do you miss Twit.tv? Do you miss me? <3

ScamSchoolBrian79 karma

I'm always missing you specifically, /u/nicktherat.

The thing I miss most about touring is the bliss of travel: every moment you're on the road, there's nothing else you're supposed to be doing. When you're on a plane, you're not supposed to be doing your taxes. When you're on stage, you're not supposed to be catching up on emails.

The only bummer to building out the studio compound is that from the moment I wake up, until the moment I go to bed... I'm pretty sure there's something more productive I *should* be doing.

jfp199254 karma

Do you think you'll revisit building a pc with Linus tech tips? Or even some sick server for you guys to store your videos on for archiving?

ScamSchoolBrian41 karma

I'd LOVE to do that.

Hail2Ceasar51 karma

How many people have come up to you and thanked you for helping them figure out how to do a covid exam because you put a nail through your nose? Add me to the list.

ScamSchoolBrian46 karma

Hah! there's been a few, but there's also been a few people asking if the COVID tests have reduced the impressiveness of the effect... Honestly, since most people only get poked an inch or two, I suspect it'll be even more impressive to audience now that they know how deep you're going in: https://youtu.be/uub818HgKl8?t=71

(Kinda like the nail in the eye is *more* disturbing if you've messed with contact lenses.)

Spidrmunkee39 karma

I remember you from scam school. What is your favorite trick to play?

ScamSchoolBrian52 karma

Can't beat playing with matches. And weirdly: as we move away from smoking culture, all those little fire tricks only seem more and more exotic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yT9H\_0ZQjTo

MeOfCourse5739 karma

best memory working with film riot?

ScamSchoolBrian40 karma

Oh, easily this first sketch we did together: https://youtu.be/TH3PJxAVXa4?t=63

I hadn't ever really "acted" before and it was SOO hard to keep from smiling. Plus the sketch is so perfectly timed and over the top. I ran it as the pre-show video for my stage show for years afterward.

johnyboz28 karma

BRIAN! Hi. I feel that you've maintained a foothold on the internet for a long time. You've stayed fresh and modern (rogue) without sacrificing your integrity and switching to react videos or something. It's been a joy to see you do your thing over the years! As a guy who is trying to figure out his place on the internet and find the "thing" that he'll end up doing, I gotta ask, what's your secret? Much love man!

ScamSchoolBrian27 karma

Mainly just keep asking "what's everyone else missing? What's the un-met need out there?"

For Scam School, it was TV-level production teaching bar tricks and the fundamentals of magic on location, with real people and not shills. For Hacking the System, it was detailing the specifics of how criminals and con artists think right on TV, and holding back as little as we can.

And for World's Greatest Con, it's contextualizing history with radical personal honesty.

Mainly: remember that the landscape is always shifting, and that it's your job not just to do what's working now, but place small bets on what's coming next.

Justananomaly24 karma

Hey Brian! Long time fan!

What magicians or otherwise inspired you to start your unique form of stage magic?

ScamSchoolBrian77 karma

I imprinted on Penn and Teller at a young age. If you've not read it yet, you should really read this first exchange between me and Teller: https://www.themodernrogue.com/articles/2018/3/21/the-letter-from-teller-that-changed-my-life

It ended up pretty much being the blueprint for my next 28 years.

Even weirder? Teller was 47 when he wrote that to me. I was 19.

Now? I'm 47, and somewhere out there is a 19 year old who I hope reads it.

icu_23 karma

How long did it take you to refill out the form for this AMA?

ScamSchoolBrian24 karma

Hahaha... Luckily, I had practiced before accidentally deleting the first one...

Moforia16 karma

Hey man, I've been a subscriber to the modern rogue for a while.

I really have to know... what made you do the frosted tips look back in the day?

ScamSchoolBrian56 karma

In a pre-social-media world, it was entirely possible to swoop into town, do the best show of your life, get a standing ovation... and one week later, have not one person in the room be able to remember a single thing about you.

So I wanted a distinctive look. I tried shoulder-length long hair, bright green hair, but ultimately, I dug the idea of looking like guile from Street Fighter II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF17lGxYb6w

Unfortunately, it later became a popular look in other circles, so as I moved into TV stuff I let it go.

But here's how I did it if you're interested. It's surprisingly low-maintenence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arTvveslU0Q

Bitcly14 karma

Can we hope for Aunty Donna on Great Night eventually?

Also, stoked for Worlds Greatest Greatest Con Season 2!

ScamSchoolBrian11 karma

YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!!!!! We just gotta find out when the Boys are stateside!!!!

MrDKOz13 karma

Honestly love The Modern Rogue, don't think there's a video I haven't watched! Are there any plans to launch something like a Patreon? I'd love to support the things you do, and help you create even more. (EDIT: u/kuhanluke found the Patreon, it wasn't linked from your YT channel so I missed it)

A cheeky second question (if I may), what's the funniest/most memorable (either in TMR or not) that you've had with Jason? You get on so well and I imagine you both have some pretty good stories.

Keep everything you do up, love it :)

ScamSchoolBrian17 karma

oho! Do I have a wish to grant you!! https://www.patreon.com/modernrogue

As for Brian and Jason tales... man, we've got so many, we should probably start a podcast just to share them all.


Madoc_eu13 karma

Honestly now: When thinking about a stage name, how much of an influence was Guybrush Threepwood?

ScamSchoolBrian13 karma

It’s the reverse! I grew up with a curious name, and when I first saw monkey island I thought… “son of a bitch. I guess I do have a made-up-sounding name…”

BoigsAvilas11 karma

Hey Brian! I discovered you when watching "Hacking the System" on Nat Geo, and have been a big fan of your YouTube channels ever since. Which "Hacking the System" episode was your favorite one to make, and why?

ScamSchoolBrian13 karma

I loved the few stunts we got to do, like being strapped into the trunk of a speeding car, or using a machine gun on a vehicle (even though that segment got cut!)

Kinglink10 karma

At the beginning of the pandemic, you were doing bar scams and since then you've pivotwd to teaching Josie your daughter the secrets of magic in a very wholesome style

How has that changed your home life or your relationship with your daughter? What does your wife think about it?

ScamSchoolBrian17 karma

It's been great. Of course the per-episode numbers have gotten quieter, since we're not able to do the bombastic stuff we used to, but meanwhile, Josie is just getting better and better!

My hope is to make a triumphant return to the bars when Josie's old enough, so I can be the sage old wizard and she can be the livewire attention-grabber. That'd be a blast.

Blisteredfoot8 karma

Which of your original magic tricks/illusions are you most proud of?

ScamSchoolBrian23 karma

Even as I was developing it, I knew EVP was going to exist in a very narrow technological window... but hot damn, did I love it. I'd never created live art that inspired real fear, anger, and tears like that: https://youtu.be/l41d-DJ03R8?t=3331

It was ELECTRIC. Goosebumps and screams everywhere, hundreds of people at a time!

cal_per_sq_cm7 karma

I only became aware of you and all the awesome content you do through the Whisky Tribe. How did you get mixed up with Daniel and Rex in the first place?

ScamSchoolBrian7 karma

Hah! Daniel and I found ourselves at a very strange dinner once (we should talk about it on a show sometime), and clicked immediately. I started hanging out and taking classes at Wizard Academy, and have been so pumped to see all their growth and success since!

hells_cowbells7 karma

Hey Brian, any more collaboration with the Whiskey Tribe guys coming up?

ScamSchoolBrian6 karma


CactusLmao6 karma

Hey Brian, My dad introduced me to Scam School 10 Years ago when i was 15 and i’ve always used Scam School as a way to remember him. I still remember my first video he showed me the “Really Hard or Impossible trick? You decide!” What’s been your most memorable interaction with someone while performing at a bar?

ScamSchoolBrian10 karma

I usually introduce the idea of doing bar tricks by asking "Hey, do you happen to know any bar tricks?"

Usually, the answer's "no," so I start sharing some... but SOMETIMES, the answer is "Yes," and invariably, that's where I'll discover my new favorite trick. So many gems just come from grandpas and uncles!

BobJohansson6 karma

Hello from a long time fan! My question is, if I meet you and present my Rogue's Medallion, will you still buy me a drink?

ScamSchoolBrian6 karma

Yup. Always and forever.

itspeterj6 karma

Hey Brian, I host a podcast about heists and scams called "I Can Steal That!" and would love to have you on as a guest sometime if you're interested. What is your favorite scam from history and what cons do you think are due for an "update" in the modern era(i.e. the Nigerian Prince scam going digital?)

ScamSchoolBrian8 karma

Sure thing! Now's a good time, since we're promoting season 2. Hit me up at brian at shwood dot com

I_Am_Slightly_Evil5 karma

Your storytelling and voice in your podcast is amazing, have you thought about doing audio books?

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

I hadn't, until so many people had asked. Thanks for the kind words!

I_Am_Slightly_Evil2 karma

If you were to do audio books which genre would you want to cover?

ScamSchoolBrian2 karma

Non-fiction, for sure

xDzG-soap5 karma

Have you thought about doing a modern rouge episode on fancy suits for the average gentlemen?(or warrior/scoundrel)

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

Oh, yes: in fact, I’d love to do a weekend even where we get a bunch of us measured and buy suits!

BrainOnBlue4 karma

What was the best thing that you had to cut from World's Greatest Con Season One?

Been a fan of pretty much everything you do for years, by the way. Thanks for providing me with hours of entertainment.

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

The good news is that whatever got cut from season 1 will definitely show up in future episodes. It's also why we add the Q&A episode at the end of the run. Gives us a chance to tip our hats to cool stuff that we just couldn't find a place for.

MrArchLinux4 karma

Hi Brian! Thanks for all your content over the years, massively enjoyable! Two questions for you! How did you get into such a line of work? And have you ever considered going into consulting as a social engineer?

ScamSchoolBrian4 karma

I've always wanted to teach and speak, but have always been afraid to act like some kind of expert before truly earning the right.

But at this point, even I have to admit I'm doing a few things right: 2 Tonight Show appearances, 2 million-sub youtube channels, 2 #1 Billboard comedy albums... I guess I'm on to something, and yes: I'd love to share what I've learned.

As for how I got into it: it was mainly out of fear of getting trapped in a pretty good office job. I didn't know if I'd make it as an entertainer, but I knew for sure that I couldn't handle a lifetime of wondering what might have been.

LakeVermilionDreams4 karma

How did I not know about half of your credentials? Going to check out Hacking the System and Great Night after Greatest Con, already downloaded.

Question - could Modern Rogue ever consider geocaching an appropriate topic to cover, perhaps as a sequel to the Dead Drop episode? I love the old spycraft stuff and am excited by how much geocaching developed skills in me for hiding personal things at home, or for hiding dead drops. Plus, I love to expand the hobby. Might be a fun video to work on as spring rolls around!

ScamSchoolBrian5 karma

Oh, absolutely!! That's been on the list for a bit.

Mrhappypants024 karma

I saw you at a college event years ago, 2006ish, and decided that I was gonna steal your Mr.Happypants name for all of my gamertags/user names. I just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration and what was it that made you come up with the Character?

ScamSchoolBrian7 karma

This my be my highest achievement.

_MildSalsa4 karma

What inspired you to start World's Greatest Con, given that most of your other outlets are much more of an impromptu/laid back style compared to the structured narrative of WGC it seems like a fairly big shift?

ScamSchoolBrian7 karma

All credit goes to Justin for simply challenging me:

“If you could do a podcast on anything, what would it be?”

“Obviously, the worlds greatest con.”

“Okay. What’s the worlds greatest con?”

“Well, it’s gotta be operation mincemeat…”

And the rest is history

captainjack9134 karma

Not sure how much you remember this Brian but you made a trip to Chicagoland for a magic show in April of 2014 and I met up with you after the show. Any idea if you could have gotten me into that show so I could finally see you perform magic live? That would have been awesome. <>

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

Probably— if you ever catch me in your area, don’t be shy about asking. When it’s a private event, I can’t really bring in a whole crowd of friendlies, but there’s almost always room for a couple

jeusek3 karma

Hello Brian! Do you still have/use the cheap studio monitors you bought out of that truck? I was scammed into buying a fake leather jacket by a guy on the street once, but I still used it since it looked ok.

ScamSchoolBrian7 karma

I held on to them for a good 12 years, before I was able to justify the use I got out of them. But I'll be first to admit I was a victim of the sunk cost fallacy.

EldyT3 karma

Brian! Love the Modern Rogue. Big fan.

Do you still have your homemade ghillie suit?

Keep up the good work man. Love you guys.

ScamSchoolBrian7 karma

Of course!!! We should have a live auction someday of all the weird stuff we've built...

jccalhoun3 karma

What are your thoughts on cat crack?

JustinRyoung4 karma

It’s one of a kind

ScamSchoolBrian6 karma

RIP El Gato Macho


Any insight into what happened to Revision 3? They were at the forefront of video podcasts, doing what a lot of YouTubers do now.

ScamSchoolBrian4 karma

Revision3 were there first, for sure, and anyone who was watching during the early days will have the same mischievous smile I'm wearing right now. Good times.

Revision3 later got bought by Discovery, which became Discovery Digital. Discovery Digital was folded into Group 9 Productions, and Group 9 was recently sold to Vox.com.

It's been a confusing ride.

FreidMule3 karma

As a fellow magician through all too many years, do we both know a performer's first and second rule.

1)Never revile a trick

2) Never do the same trick twice for the same audience.

I did see some of your videos many years ago and could see you have chosen to break both rules. Why? :-)

ScamSchoolBrian9 karma

1) requires a deeper discussion about the difference between "teaching" and "exposure." I give some thoughts here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwQJXgQaHiM

2) is a fun thing to say to keep the show moving when someone gives you that knee-jerk "whoa, do that again!" response, but truthfully, some tricks really are better the more you see them. And a special few actually get even more amazing after you learn them. I think the Human Chimney falls in that category.

jdhutch803 karma

Brian, I've been using your trick to get an appropriate amount of toppings ("more of X than you would think someone would want") on my sandwiches for a couple of years now, and it ranks among the most practical advice I've ever gotten from a podcast.

You seem incredibly busy between your podcasts and YouTube channels, and you also seem like a great dad. How do you balance family with also being a prolific content creator?

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

With more bell peppers than you could possibly believe I actually want on this sandwich. So many bell peppers that you think “surely, this man is joking.”

icu_2 karma

Are you already working on the NFT season?

ScamSchoolBrian2 karma

Too soon to call on that one. There’s going to be some epic stories tho

IrocePecorI2 karma

Hey Brian, I loved your show growing up learning how to scam my friends for a drink or just to entertain them. Do you think you'll ever release a new book for an updated version of all your tricks?

ScamSchoolBrian4 karma

Books 1 and 2 cover nearly 200 tricks, and if you add Bamboozlers, you get upwards of 400-500 tricks.

But having said that, yes, I do have a mostly-written Book 3 in the wings...


Delfishie2 karma

Can Bonnie be on more podcast episodes? She's a national treasure. I still have that "Dolphins are smarter than Americans" song in my head.

JustinRyoung2 karma

Did you see her and Ashley host an episode last year?

ScamSchoolBrian2 karma

Yes to Justin's post! it was so good!!!

UncleI0n2 karma

Shwood, thanks for the amazing content. If you had to pick a favorite guest from BBLive/NSFW/Night Attack/Great Night, why would it be MikeTV? <>

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

We owe a life debt to Mike! He's the best.

Mriamsosmrt2 karma

Hi Brian, huge modern rogue and scam school fan here. I love watching the videos as premiers and interacting with you and the other viewers in chat.

2 Questions:

  1. With covid restrictions relaxing are you going to do scam school in bars again soon?

  2. If you had to describe modern rogue to someone who has never heard of it in under 1 minute how would you do that?

ScamSchoolBrian14 karma

  1. hopefully.
  2. Imagine mythbusters with two Adam Savages, and both of them don't know what they're doing.

BigRobFUBAR1 karma

Hey boss! First ama I've participated in. Without getting into spoiler territory, which episode of The Worlds Greatest Con Season 2 is your favorite? Like, which story interested you the most?

ScamSchoolBrian1 karma

Episode 2. Next week.

KogasaGaSagasa1 karma

You talked about D&D in the passing with Jason from time to time, how much do you two play, and what's your favorite class/subclass? Any other TRPGs that you'd like to try?

ScamSchoolBrian4 karma

I’ve been playing with my family more often. My 17-year old makes a fine DM!

cyclosis511 karma

Hey Brian! Huge fan of Modern Rogue, you and Jason are genuinely two of the funniest people I've seen, and I love your guys' nerdy friendship. I guess I have two questions: First, what made you and Jason want to start Modern Rogue? I'm really curious about what made you guys look into creating a show that covers so many diverse topics while all being grounded by the central theme of being more knowledgeable in any given situation. Second, I've always wanted to sit down and talk over a beer with you guys about, well, questions similar to my first one haha. Do you guys think you'd ever be open to something like a Discord or Zoom call to let a fan pick your brains about everything?

Thank you so much for all you do, and I hope you and yours are all doing well!

ScamSchoolBrian2 karma

We kinda get to do exactly that with our Patreon events. It’s a lot of fun!

As for the idea of the show, by the time we finished Hacking the System for National Geographic, we had a stack of hundreds of ideas that got cut because they were to unpredictable or dangerous… and Ta-Da! The modern rogue channel carried the torch.

TomppaTom1 karma

I perform a lot of your routines for my students, who now think I’m a wizard. I never want to take money off them, that would be unethical, but as a teacher, would you consider it fair game if I scammed them out of chocolate/candy?

ScamSchoolBrian4 karma

Totally legit. You gotta get them to have some skin in the game.

elfalaxo1 karma

because I live in the Austin area, I sometimes recognize landmarks in the videos, like in the fishing episode, I recognized that it was in my hometown where I live. because of the market in Austin and the constant policy changes and property taxes, how do you run a channel and business with employees whilst surviving lol?

ScamSchoolBrian2 karma

It helps that we're outside city limits 😊

Kyur_4_TH_Ich1 karma

What's your favourite icecream flavour?

ScamSchoolBrian4 karma

Blue Bell brand Cookies and cream. No doubt.

Stowcenter931 karma


I remember falling in love with your content after the glass eating Scam School episode. I was hooked and have enjoyed your work every step of the way. Thank you for years of content and teaching me how to freak my mother out with a nail hammered up my nose.

During the episode of Fool Us ,Penn stated that he thinks you performed Psychic Surgery better than them. Did he ever elaborate on that (cut for tv or backstage) and if not, what do you think your version of the trick excels at?

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

The vast number of times over performed that trick have been at universal’s Halloween horror nights, where the audience is a bit tipsy, rowdy, and not necessarily there to see me.

So as a result, I get to be pretty brash, doing stuff like forcing the audience to eat their own card, etc.

That’s less a testimony of my performance, but more an upside to performing in such a skeptical rowdy environment.

totesmygto1 karma

Who's your favorite host of ics? And why is it Jacob?

ScamSchoolBrian2 karma

Because he’s on the knobs and dials!! FYITF

do_it_every_day1 karma

No mention of NSFW on twit? I feel forgotten as a fan!!!

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

We’re still rocking and evolving! BBLiveshow—>NSFWshow—>Night Attack—>greatnight.tv !! Honestly, I’m so pleased with how our latest interaction has been playing.

So much fun: https://clips.twitch.tv/OutstandingOpenToadWutFace-G9WrxvrsI9Vz4kfh

Mercutio011 karma

With all of the lovely insane mustaches, mullets, and beards lately, when the hell are the spikes coming back? LOL

Just kidding! Keep kicking ass, Brian. I've got World's Greatest Con Season 2 Episode 1 cued up for my commute home. Can't wait.

ScamSchoolBrian2 karma

Nice!! Lemme know what you think

maz0r1 karma

Hey Brian, Bought your fire eating book circa 2005 had fun with those tricks, and others you did on ScamSchool/modern rogue since then.

Actual question: Do you know of / have any favorite scam/con related to fire specifically?

ScamSchoolBrian2 karma

Dragging a torch on concrete and letting the fire chase it is such a blast, and (relatively) safe. It feels like slot car racing.

zypr3xa1 karma

Will there be another Night Attack album?

ScamSchoolBrian1 karma

We’re recording it right now!!

Positive-Distance1 karma

Hi Brian,

When will you be doing the Email Trivia Night again? We had so much fun last time!

ScamSchoolBrian1 karma

I’m so glad you dug it! It was a LOT of fun, but gmail became convinced I was spamming everyone and locked me out for a bit. Whoops.

Jesus_Shaves_1 karma

Hey Brian! Always been a fan, I have def won a couple drinks using the dollar trick over the years so thanks for that! I only have one serious question for you:

When are you going to bring back the porcupine hair???

ScamSchoolBrian2 karma

Just waiting for the right sketch…

iammandalore1 karma

Hey Brian, love your videos.

Curious if you have any advice for a Mandalorian warrior who's recently become a single dad?

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

Stay clear of space cops.

TeflonTrout1 karma

Hey Brian! Been a huge fan going all the way back to the liberty spike days 😏

I've always been curious what kind of music you and Jason are into? You strike me as an 80 synth pop guy and Jason seems like an 80s hair metal guy. Just always been curious lol

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

Actually, that’s pretty close!! Though I’m more aughts… I dig pendulum, Muse, etc…. But I’ve got a strong soft spot for Australian hip-hop like Thundamentals and Hilltop Hoods.

tino7680 karma

Why do you teach people to scam other people? Isn't there enough BS already without you actively contributing to it?

ScamSchoolBrian3 karma

This sounds like the type of question someone would ask if they haven't actually seen my work. You should check it out!