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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » How to put together a good Mentalism Show. (7 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of yankay37
Hey guys,

I've been getting more and more into mentalism. I enjoy performing, I've been on stage for many years (circus, clowning, magic, stand-up, mentalism etc.)
And now I would like to put together a purely mentalism show. This is what I enjoy the most, and it seems that this is also what is getting the best reactions from the audience.

Here's what I wanted to ask:
There are so many techniques to read minds, make predictions, etc. but I don't want my show to just be like .. prediction, read minds, another prediction, send thoughts to person's mind, another prediction etc.

I wanted to get some advice from you mentalism experts/veterans on how to piece a good show together, how it should flow, and transition etc.

Any feedback will be helpful! I look forwards to your comments!

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First, decide who you are, and what your abilities are. For example, I demonstrate suggestion, increased awareness, etc etc. So while I love the reactions I get from metal bending, I don't do it. it's not congruent to my character.

Then, pick the effects that compliment your character. Hone and rework those until they are personal.

Then, sit down and write out a story. Cut your effects list down to 2 or 3 things that work to tell that story. Start coming up with a routine.

My thinking is each effect should move seamlessly and logically into the next one. For instance I might start with a book test, then move on to a freely thought of word revelation, and then finally into a prediction of a chosen word. By using the book at first I can get a feel for the way they process information and start to pick up on their cues. With that process underway, it becomes possible to read their cues to determine a word they're merely thinking of. By assessing which word they chose from the book, and then which word they chose on their own, I am able to predict with a high success rate what their last freely thought of word would be.

I think the most important things when creating a show are logic and consistency. If you weave those two things into your performances you will be off to a good start.
Raymond Singson
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Theatrically, I always enjoy when a show comes full circle.

An idea I've personally been playing with script-wise is a show called SCAM. Throughout the event, I'd showcase a series of wild predictions and mindreading like most would expect, but I would occasionally miss certain important revelations. I'd openly list these misses on a white board or easel for later and at the end of the show, I'd point out that my misses throughout the experience actually made up an acronym for SCAM-- the very title of the show.

“The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.” -- James Arthur Baldwin
Scott Soloff
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Personally, I like to go from something simple and build with more and more impressive demonstrations. End with a Q & A. Encore with something light and funny.

I would enjoy hearing what Mr. Cassidy thinks...

Best wishes,

p.s. Raymond, I like the theme of your show. Sounds great!
'Curiouser and curiouser."
Tom Jorgenson
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Read Mitox. The effects should serve to prove your Mitox. They should not be effects in themselves, but illustrations of the point of your show.

If you want a point to your show. And a central point makes the whole show make sense as a whole.
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A good and simple way to write your show is to use the 3 x 3 structure: 3 sets of 3 routines. Each set is like an act in a play and has its own theme. In a given set, each effect should be stronger then the former. And the last set should be the stronger of all. Tie all this with a story (the usual "how I became a mentalist" is an easy one), people like stories.

For instance, your three themes could be influencing people, reading minds, predicting the future. I would put "predicting the future" las, as the strongest set, because it may be le least rationnaly explainable one (but of course, it depends on how you present it, it could be the other way around).

But your themes could be something else than effects. Could be:
1 - How mentalism helped me in my professionnal life
2 - How mentalism helped me in my love live
3 - How mentalism helped me out of jail ;-)


1 - When I was a kid
2 - When I was a teenager
3 - What I can do now

And in every set, you would mix mindreading, predictions, etc. as you like.

The important thing isto clearly identy every theme (at least in your mind).

Every set starts with a quick and simple tourine that illustrates the theme.

When you have that (your 3 sets of 3 routines), add an introduction before and a conclusion after. If you need to shorten your show, you can do one or two sets only, but you will always start with your introduction and end with your conclusion.

That way, you will have a structured and consistent show, easy to follow for your audience (that's important!).
Now comes the difficult (but fun) part: perform it and make it entertaining ;-)
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I structure my shows by thinking the emotions I want the audience to experience. Try to look your show from the view of the audience, how you would like them to see you? Are you a guy that can make people choose the way you like? Can you read mind by reading their body language etc. Then try to find effects that demonstrate your chosen abilities and put them together to create a show. That will take time!
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If you've not done so, study Bob Cassidy's FUNDAMENTALS material and Jermay's BUILDING BLOCKS so that you have some sense of foundation. The other resource is MAGIC & SHOWMANSHIP. . . it's dry and old but still applicable.

I suggest these things because of the need for a firm foundation -- a solid picture in your head as to what it means to be a.) An Entertainer; and b.) A Mental Performer.

. . . and yes, I know you said you've got stage experience but I'm a big believer in constant review on the basics, it keeps us honest.

You've been given some very solid details and truth be known, you can't start building a solid act until you define your persona and claim. My approach is relatively casual and quite similar to Bob Cassidy though we are separated by claim; Bob is a Mind Reader and leaves it at that, while I tend to walk much closer to the mystical side of things, incorporating the idea around Intuition as a stepping stone toward Psychic Development, etc. Intuition is popular with many when it comes to themes because it does allow you to stand in the world of the rationalist as well as the mystic; the adage about neither admitting to nor denying one's abilities is easier to accomplish with this or similar claims.

Strive to create a program that is clutter free. When I did stage and floor shows I carried an easel and a large poster for one special routine, an artist pad, two sharpie chisel points, a book test, stack of billets, golf pencils and a tarot deck . . . maybe a pendulum or three depending on my mood and theme preference by the client. . . that's a lot of stuff! I've done shows that were far more grandiose but my favorite and most successful shows rarely involve more than Muscle Reading and some version of the Q&A. With little other one can do an easy hour program; especially if they are proficient in doing a Q&A type performance which means doing lots of reading of material by Bob Cassidy, Richard Webster, John Riggs and Jerome Finley amongst others these authors will point you to, like George Anderson.

I'm a stickler for realism and being able to validate one's claim, the older I get the more I think this is important; so look at effects that support your claims and stay away from the overtly sensational -- keep it simple BUT. . . if you are doing more than a 20 minute set (which is very easy to do) you may want to consider a couple of bits just for fun such as Larry Becker's Casino Royal or any number of monte effects (I absolutely love Roni Shachnaey's GRAFFITI routine; it's rare for starters and packed with comedy which is important when doing any kind of program, levity helps people have a fond memory of you and leaves them with pleasing memories of your performance. Don't get overly carried away with it however; take a look at how Mr. Cassidy uses his natural drool humor with folks when he works and you'll see what I mean. On the other hand, you do need to follow Chris Carey's advice and DO THE STUFF THAT'S YOU.

Best of luck!
John C
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1. Lose the hat Smile
2. Follow the advice already written

PS: there's a bit of seriousness in #1 about the hat, unless your character can withstand it.
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WOW.. guys.. this indeed is "Magicians helping Magicians" - Thank you. I carefully read through your responses, and will also follow up on some more resources some of you have mentioned. I feel a lot more confident, and I have a better idea of what I want to do.

Seriously, thanks guys!

Oh .. and John C, haha, good one, but I don't actually wear a hat like that... that just a funny photo I decided to use in the magiccafe Smile

David Thiel
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There's a great book on how to create a mentalism show. Beautifully explained and brilliantly presented. It's called "Mentalism, Incorporated" by Chuck Hickok.

Two other very good resources are "Fundamentals of Professional Mentalism" by Bob Cassidy and "The Principals of Mentalism" by Richard Osterlind.

The combination of all three really provide a massive pile of great thinking from guys who have performed mentalism their whole lives.

Good luck. Let us know how things come together for you. And I happen to like the hat.

Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.
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Profile of yankay37
Thanks David. I will definitely check out these books. Smile
Jay Jennings
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That looks really good. For $60 I wish there was a digital option. Smile


{edit: I don't mean a cheaper digital option, I mean if I'm going to spend $60 I'd prefer it in the format I prefer. The more I spend, the more I want my way. Smile ]
Smoking Camel
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Go read a whole bunch or autobiographies. Doesn't matter who.

As you read, study how the writer is communicating who/why/what they are about.
I no longer smoke camel cigarettes.
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Smoking Camel. . . that's a curious idea but I like it. . . never would have thought of it that way but it does make sense and too, it helps one learn more about how to "read" others and how what we might see on first sight is nothing, compared to the inner-person. This ties to the old standard of associating the person in front of you with someone they remind you of; in this instance, when someone reminds you of a character in a biography you may hit harder by using the parallels.

Awesome idea. . . consider it stolen!
Senor Fabuloso
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Amazing question with fabulous answers. RESURRECTED!
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