Which brings to a point that Peter came up with on facebook. Why would they even bother? That is to say if a stage illusionist is going to go on this show why would they bother unless they really had something that no one had ever seen before. Young and strange and their metamorphesis/transported man trick. How is a double act really going to produce anything that those two don't already know about.
First off...I'm not sure they are not trying to "fool" them. The stage acts have been admittedly weak....let me rephrase that. Strong performances but weak methodology. But think about the fact that most of those stage acts have been from relatively young performers. Young folks have a tendency to delude themselves. From a perspective of marketing the show those acts are important because it keeps a good level of variety in a show. So even though a stage show is doubtful to get through there is good reason to assume the producers of the show want them there and at least an understandable reason why the magicians themselves may have overestimated their act and underestimated Penn and Teller.
You are right that an act which doesn't fit their normal performance criteria will stand a better chance of fooling them and the people going on the show the must realise this. So why aren't they bringing something that no one's ever seen before?
In regards to the closeup and mentalism, I think they are...at least trying...to fool them in earnest. I don't have enough experience in mentalism to give any good examples but again, back to my discussion of Daniel Madison and Ben Earl, I'm pretty sure both set out to "fool." I say that after having studied both. I feel pretty confident in saying that neither of those guys performed their "best" stuff. If they were just on the show to entertain the laymen, get some TV time, and grow their businesses, they each could have picked effects that play much bigger and seem more amazing to a lay audience. Instead they each relied magician fooling material. The kind of esoteric stuff that lots of guys talk about but few actually practice.
As I said at the start of my original post I'm not trashing these acts, they're all really good in their own way it just doesn't feel like they actually went out with the intention of fooling P&T and rather just wanted some TV air time.
Yeah I know you are not trying to trash the acts and I understand where you are coming from. I just sort of "half" agree about whether they are earnestly trying to fool Pen and Teller. Realistically I don't think any stage magician really has a chance but I can understand, given the age of who I have seen so far, why some think that their twist on the ol' sub trunk routine might be good enough to fool. I can also understand why the show producers want some stage magic in the show. Finally, I can understand why Penn and Teller would be pleased with the show format and submissions. After all, if someone wins P&T are flying them out to Vegas to open their show. Do you really think P&T would want a stage routine to open for them? I'm sure they are pleased as punch that they are getting mentalists and card magicians since that kind of stuff won't really step on their own show.
P.S. If you were referring to Peter Turner then I'd add that I'm positive some of his effects would fool them. I bet Penn and Teller still use a center tear!