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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » What makes a mentalism show entertaining? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

cafeinst
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In order for a magic show to be entertaining, the magician must be like able. I would assume that the same must be true for a mentalism show. But why would anyone like a person that is able to read their mind? Most people want their thoughts to be private and would regard someone who could read their thoughts as an intruder.
mastermindreader
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I wrote the following back in 1982 in The Art of Mentalism. (And I'm pretty sure I've posted it on this forum a few times over the years). Here is a relevant excerpt from the section titled "The Presentation of Mentalism:"

Quote:
So what makes an act good? There are many factors, of
course, but the main thing is that the performance must be
entertaining. Anyone who thinks otherwise and has the nerve to perform
a standup act in a theatrical selling is a fool-and probably an
egotistical fool to boot. If a performer really thinks that the
mechanical performance of technically flawless mental effects will
cause an audience to sit in awe of his "powers" and bring him success,
he is sadly mistaken.

Now, obviously, entertainment value alone does not make a mental
act. But it is very difficult to be entertaining if the audience
doesn't like you and whatever it is that you're doing. So we arrive at
a very simple rule-to succeed you have got to do everything in your
power to be likeable. So many mentalists nowadays try to affect a
threatening, superman-type image. That sort of thing may intrigue
people for a while, but in the long run it puts them off-they may like
to go to freak shows on occasion, but they go there to gawk, not to
interact. And if a mentalist cannot get people to interact- i.e., to
volunteer, to participate- he doesn't have an act.

How many times have you heard the complaint "I just can't seem to
get people to volunteer?" Those who have that problem would do well to
look at their image. Are they presenting likeable personalities, or do
they pose a threat to their audience? Or, worse yet, are they coming on
so strong that people just don't want to be seen on the same stage with
them?

And that's one of the reasons that mentalism is so difficult to do
well. Reading people's minds is inherently threatening. Consider- do
people really want to have their minds read? Would you like to have
your mind read? For real? Suppose you really could read minds and
reveal people's innermost thoughts. Do you think they would like you?
Do you think they'd volunteer once they were convinced that you could
really do it? Of course not! They'd get away from you as fast as
possible, or they'd kill you.But as a mentalist you can't come right
out and say you're just doing tricks. Then the act is just a puzzle. The
inherent fascination is gone.

The resolution is really pretty simple-you've got to create the
impression that you can only do this stuff sometimes. That it doesn't
always work. That it's not minds that you can read, just very clearly
defined thoughts- thoughts which a volunteer must focus on to the
exclusion of everything else. That's why they must write things down,
or make selections within clearly defined parameters. In one stroke
you've eliminated the threat and made the secret work of mentalism both
possible and plausible...
Mind illusionist
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Solid gold. Thank you Bob. I have a different kind of philosophy, but I believe if you emotionally impact an audience, they will be entertained. But just because they are entertained, does not mean they have been moved emotionally...
funsway
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I find both views absolutely correct -- yet incomplete. The viewer must desire to be entertained and the performer must have a desire to entertain. These conditions do not always exits. Now, if "audience" you mean folks coming to see you perform mental feats in an entertaining way it is fine. But, too many feel that any victim before them is an "audience" and the "emotional impact" may be other than entertainment or enjoyment.

Does this mean that a mentalism show can only be entertaining if a paying audience expects mentalism to occur? Not sure - but I know it is safe.

The answer to title question is found in "mentalism show" and not "mentalism."

Bob's words above is one reason why I choose not to do Mentalism very often (or any form of performance magic) -- I have little desire to entertain anyone, and even less to jump at someone's cry, "entertain me!" My failing, I am sure.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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Jon_Thompson
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More effects with less padding, and great patter, makes mentalism interesting for me. Too much of it is too ponderous for me.
Looch
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As always Bobs words are so valuable !
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voh002
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Quote:
On 2013-06-10 07:24, looch wrote:
As always Bobs words are so valuable !


100% agree!
0pus
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Quote:
On 2013-06-09 23:36, mastermindreader wrote:

. . . . So many mentalists nowadays try to affect a
threatening, superman-type image. . . .


Great use of the word "affect."

0pus
Mikael
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Thank you, mr Cassidy! It's good to get to re-read great texts like that.
ThatsJustWrong!
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Please keep posting that, Bob, maybe it will sink in!
Joe Leo

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cafeinst
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Bob Cassidy,

Thank you very much for your comments. I'm not a mentalist but a magician. Your comments are very helpful to me, as they help me to realize that I should stick with magic and not go into mentalism. It's definitely not for everyone.
mastermindreader
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Quote:
On 2013-06-10 04:17, funsway wrote:
I find both views absolutely correct -- yet incomplete. The viewer must desire to be entertained and the performer must have a desire to entertain. These conditions do not always exits. Now, if "audience" you mean folks coming to see you perform mental feats in an entertaining way it is fine. But, too many feel that any victim before them is an "audience" and the "emotional impact" may be other than entertainment or enjoyment.

Does this mean that a mentalism show can only be entertaining if a paying audience expects mentalism to occur? Not sure - but I know it is safe.

The answer to title question is found in "mentalism show" and not "mentalism."

Bob's words above is one reason why I choose not to do Mentalism very often (or any form of performance magic) -- I have little desire to entertain anyone, and even less to jump at someone's cry, "entertain me!" My failing, I am sure.


As to this being incomplete, you're correct. It's just a few paragraphs, as I indicated, out of a lengthy chapter discussing the performance of professional mentalism.

And, as I've noted repeatedly over the years, being a professional entertainer is not the same as being a performing monkey (i.e., "jumping at someone's cry 'entertain me!'").
jamiesalinas
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Bravo! Bob, will you please say this in person to the attendees of Mindvention this year as you are being honored?

Jamie
Jamie Salinas
Dorianmagic
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On the presentation of Mentalism…once again Bob Cassidy is right on target.
Quoting funsway later in this thread:
"…Bob's words above is one reason why I choose not to do Mentalism very often (or any form of performance magic) -- I have little desire to entertain anyone, and even less to jump at someone's cry, "entertain me!" My failing, I am sure."
Unhappily I fall into the same category. What is it that makes some of us shy away from performing while, at the same time, we spend so many hours learning and practicing? There's never a day goes by without several hours devoted to magic and mentalism. I'm not exactly a beginner, having made my living as a professional for the better part of 50 years. Somewhere along the way however, the desire to perform just seems to have disappeared! Re-echoing funsway "My failing, I am sure."
mrkmarik
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Absolute Magic by Mr.Brown must be sought-after book on this topic regarding those kind of questions and to be obtain by Magician by any means.

His philosophy and model of artful performance and hundreds of life performances of Magic made him a hero in most of our eyes.

M
peculiarone
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YOU
Pakar Ilusi
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I don't know the exact answer but this is what I myself strive for...

The audience going home feeling they've witnessed something amazing about the ability of the human mind, body and spirit. Yours and theirs.

They laughed, cried, feared dan felt with you and for you.

They cared.

They remember.

But those are just my aims when performing mentalism, or anything else.... Smile

Yours might be different.
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
Chris Cheong
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Based on experiences.

For a mentalism show to be successfully delivered, you will need:

1) The correct performing venue. Don't do in bars, clubs and in shopping malls.

2) The correct audiences. In Malaysia and Asia countries, performing mentalism to children or to "not so educated" people doesn't work.

3) Balance Effect list. Be sure to organize your entire show like a story writing. You need to have the setting, plot, climax and ending. One built up for another. I think Darren Brown have got a very good ending where he show how he influence the spectators choice in the entire show.

4) You have to understand that mentalism is 70% or more talking based performances - so you are indirectly doing a stand up comedy show, a MC, speaker and presenter at the same time. People like to hear jokes and things that will make them enjoy the show. Laughter kills! So patter is important! Get more on liner, watch more comedian or good speaker (not mentalist or magician)

And most importantly, is the mindset. If you are a working professional and doing this full time - you have to make sure your show is an entertainment not a showcase. I have seen magician/mentalist who perform as if their are showcasing their skill instead of entertaining.

:)
Regards,
Chris
Pakar Ilusi
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Wow, I have to say something as I'm from Malaysia.

That 'not so educated' people remark is just bad, bro...

Children, I understand.

But blaming your audience for their lack of ability to grasp your stuff, shows on you, not on them.

I love Derren's work, he's the person who got me into Mentalism...

But I suspect you're trying to pull off a complete Derren in Malaysia, which won't work due to the sensibilities here.

The language and culture. Not the education imho...

And...

Clubs, bars and pubs here are not condusive to talking acts, I agree, but...

Shopping malls in Malaysia are great for Mentalism!

You need to play to the audience you're given, not the other way around imho...

Speaking from experience also. 13 years at that...

It's HOW you approach it really here... Smile

Drunken people, that's a problem anywhere.

But other than those, you have to "reach" them...

Not ask them to "reach" you.

All the best in your future shows. Smile

(In case you're wondering why you've not heard of me, Pakar Ilusi is not my real name...)
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
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