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RNK
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On Jul 31, 2014, mastermindreader wrote:
I think the rise of "close up mentalism" runs parallel to the ever increasing number of hobbyists and amateurs trying to add mentalism to their repertoires. The problem is that these performers work primarily for friends and family, where the illusion of mentalism is nearly impossible to achieve.

I agree that mentalism is most effective when performed for paying audiences in a theatrical, night club, or platform setting.


I do agree that mentalism is nearly impossible with friends and family. I also agree that mentalism may be perceived in a greater sense when performed theater style in front of a large audience. But with the right presentation- I have performed very well received close-up mentalism on the cruise ship I work. So much so that the loud gasps and screams echo to the second tier of the ship so when I make it to the second tier most are waiting anxiously for me to approach them. So I have experienced first hand very successful close-up mentalism that is received very well. Again, it's all in the presentation and choosing the right routine at the right time given your audience and conditions that are facing you.

RNK
mastermindreader
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I would consider a cruise ship to be a professional setting and hardly equivalent to working for friends and family or table hopping at Dominos.

I, too, did close-up when I worked for Holland America Cruises. But I was there as a professional mentalist and also performed in their stage and cabaret shows.
RNK
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Point is mentalism performed professionally in a close-up setting does not diminish the art as Mindpro suggested in his previous post. Mentalism absolutely can be performed professionally is a close-up professional environment with great success. Contrary to what Mindpro stated, "While I know it will not be a popular opinion here with the kids, UK guys and the onslaught of magician-turned-mentalist, yes, I believe mentalism is best suited for the stage in front of an engaged audience. This movement to reduce, minimize or diminish mentalism to a street or smaller level works against what mentalism is, stands for and has been established as for generations. "
Martin Pulman
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On Jul 31, 2014, IAIN wrote:
So basically, its being said "go pro - or go home"? and it has to be stage or its not proper mentalism?

its great that everyone who works very hard and does things in the way they feel is right and proper gets treated so fairly... and everyone else is a bit of a joke, and to be battered over the head because they don't have the title "full-time working pro"?
.


You've got it Iain. It would seem if you are not performing for a paying audience on a stage, a cruise ship or a talent show, you are not performing mentalism.

Of course, that means that Berglas performing his "effect" for his friend Barrie Richardson in his car was not performing mentalism but some kid performing his store bought effects for an ex-Spice Girl and a shock jock is!?!

Go figure, as I believe our American cousins are prone to say. Smile
mastermindreader
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On Jul 31, 2014, Martin Pulman wrote:
[

You've got it Iain. It would seem if you are not performing for a paying audience on a stage, a cruise ship or a talent show, you are not performing mentalism.



Where was that said? My point is simply that mentalism is usually taken more seriously when presented in certain venues, and less seriously when performed for friends and family in informal surroundings.
IAIN
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I don't perform for friends and family, though I do meet up with friends to brainstorm...

Why don't the full timers have their own private forum and not mix with the hoi-palloi?

Posted: Jul 31, 2014 02:28 pm Not aimed at you, bob...
I've asked to be banned
mastermindreader
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I hope not. My favorite people are the "hoi-palloi."
Scott Soloff
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I don't see any reason why mentalism can't be done beautifully and entertaining in a small intimate setting such as a bar or a pub. If a person is a mentalist (whatever than means to them personally), then they can certainly interact with a group of two, three or more people at a table.

And, as I've said elsewhere, some of the best performers that I've seen are not full time professionals.

Last year at a local magic club there were two lectures. One by a local member (not a full time magician) that did an absolutely wonderful presentation. There was also a lecture by an outside big name (that everyone here would certainly recognize) who did not impress me at all.

So, I'm making two points here. Although I prefer to perform on stage (because I love what I can do with an audience), I can certainly appreciate the value of mentalism done close-up.

The other is amateur vs professional: Those labels alone do not designate the quality of the performer.

I've said my piece!

Best to all,


Scott
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sandsjr
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What's the point of arguing over this stuff. I think we all agree mentalism isn't seen in it's best light in a 90 second spot on America's Got Tricks. (that is what AGT stands for no?) Nor is it seen in it's best light during a walk around at a restaurant.

What good does lamenting over it do? Get out and perform. Show the world what you do.
mastermindreader
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And I don't disagree with anything you've just said.
Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Jul 31, 2014, Scott Soloff wrote:
I don't see any reason why mentalism can't be done beautifully and entertaining in a small intimate setting such as a bar or a pub. If a person is a mentalist (whatever than means to them personally), then they can certainly interact with a group of two, three or more people at a table.

And, as I've said elsewhere, some of the best performers that I've seen are not full time professionals.

Last year at a local magic club there were two lectures. One by a local member (not a full time magician) that did an absolutely wonderful presentation. There was also a lecture by an outside big name (that everyone here would certainly recognize) who did not impress me at all.

So, I'm making two points here. Although I prefer to perform on stage (because I love what I can do with an audience), I can certainly appreciate the value of mentalism done close-up.

The other is amateur vs professional: Those labels alone do not designate the quality of the performer.

I've said my piece!

Best to all,


Scott


Wise words Scott. There is good and bad in all areas of the art. Mind you, some of the worst performances of mentalism I've ever seen have been by full-time "professionals".
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I did originally write a big long ranty ramble, but decided against it...
I've asked to be banned
mastermindreader
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Why not go for a rambly rant, then?
IAIN
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I've not got the shoes for either...
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Magic.Maddy
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My personal opinion is that with the proper character/timing/presentation, you could do mentalism nice enough to not "damage" the art in 90 seconds.
mastermindreader
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Absolutely. I believe my good friend Eric Dittelman proved just that. I'm very proud of his performances on AGT. Believable, well thought out and very engaging. And his career has done very well since he made the finals.
Martin Pulman
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On Jul 31, 2014, IAIN wrote:
I did originally write a big long ranty ramble, but decided against it...


You could just have a cup of tea and watch a Keith Barry DVD? "Mental Barry" being another anagram of "ranty ramble". Smile
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On Jul 31, 2014, sandsjr wrote:
Mind Guerrilla, I don't see why you would call that a degradation to the art... I thought they did a terrific job. They got Howie to change his mind twice. Anyone else might have given up.

I was being sarcastic. I do that. I'm a New Yorker. Sarcasm is my native tongue. Smile
sandsjr
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On Jul 31, 2014, Mind Guerrilla wrote:

I was being sarcastic. I do that. I'm a New Yorker. Sarcasm is my native tongue. Smile


Oh, I'm from Boston. I didn't pick up on that. Smile
Eric Dittelman
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I supposed I should chime in seeing as I've actually gone through the process...(Sorry, this is probably going to be long...Here's the ramble you've been asking for Smile)

Although there may have been mentalism routines performed prior to me being on the show, I believe I was the first person on America's Got Talent to present themselves as a mind reader.

I am very proud of the routines I presented on the show and don't think I harmed mentalism in anyway by doing 90 second routines. I think the key is to truly understanding the medium in which you're performing. I had watched AGT for six seasons before I even thought about going on the show. I wanted to know what was and wasn't possible to do - more specifically, what the show's limitations were. I was contacted a few years prior to the season I ultimately auditioned for and I had turned them down at that time because I also, didn't think it was possible for mentalism to be presented well in such a short time.

I did ultimately decided to audition because I thought I found a way to pull it off and I wanted a little bit of exposure for my career. Now I didn’t do it to just gain fame, but as you're aware with most entertainment careers, finding a way to add some TV credits is good way for people to book you because it’s a way of validating your talent. Can you blame me for wanting to try and make a living out of the art form I'm passionate about rather than just scraping by to make ends meet?
I don’t think it’s right to judge anyone on how they might accomplish that goal because everyone’s path is different.

So anyway, I took the AGT opportunity as a challenge to see how I could best convey our art form given the limitations.

"Art is limitation. The essence of every picture is the frame." -G. K. Chesterton

This is shown by amazing pieces of artwork throughout art history. Jackson Pollock wouldn't have made his masterpieces if he hadn't restricted himself to his drip painting style. Arnold Schoenberg wouldn't have been able to create his avant garde compositions if he hadn't limited himself to his twelve-tone serialism. Every artist working with charcoal needs to understand the medium they’re working with and its limitations. Therefore we can’t judge the medium, but what one does with it. This is why I believe that there can be (and probably are) performers in our field that can create art in bar/pub settings or more “non-traditional” performance venues.

That’s why I don’t bash YouTube either. I think the problem most people have with YouTube is that there are far too many people using it at the most basic level and there are very few who fully understand its capabilities and able to use them in an artistic manner. (Btw, I am including myself in the majority of basic users of YouTube. I’m terrible at it!)


I am not trying to compare myself to any of the aforementioned artists above by any means. I just believe that art can be made in any medium because it all depends on the artist and the presentation. I know that I personally did my best to present mentalism in the best light that I could when I was on the show.

However, I do understand the concern. Television by nature is an entertainment medium first and foremost and there can be a lot working against you. Some people even believe that anything on television cannot be considered art and devalue the medium by calling it the “boob tube” and the like. Shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones & Fargo prove those naysayers wrong. (IMO) But even when the medium is being controlled by individuals with different views, art can still exists. (See the censorship Michelangelo faced with his art!)

Now in the very specific medium of ‘Talent Competition Reality Show’ which I found myself in, I viewed my experience as a venn diagram. There's the way the producers want to portray you and the way you want to portray yourself and ideally those two circles will overlap completely. In my case, I found that they pretty much did, and I could do what I wanted to do on the show, which may not necessarily be true for everyone.

My view of artistic mentalism is making a impactful connection with someone else. In the format of the show, the judges are the representation of the home audience, so I chose to focus on them. They’re the ones who react because they’re the only ones who are actually experiencing it live.

My first routine was my blindfold Pictionary routine. I knew it would get all the judges involved and would hopefully have a strong reaction. Although the piece is a classic of mentalism, I feel the art of it came in the way the presentation fit my personality and my style of keeping things fun and light-hearted. This was the only piece I intended to do on the show, however I advanced and kept creating more pieces. Were some of them “store bought”? Possibly! Were some adaptations of old methods that I had refined through years of practice? Yup! Were some routines put the month before they aired because I didn’t think I was gonna go through? Absolutely! But I don’t think any of that would affect the art of mentalism negatively as long as its presented well.

Those routines included:
-Revealing the name of Sharon Osbourne’s first crush. (In this round the judges are specifically told not to react at all and to give as little feedback as possible so the acts don’t know how we did, yet Sharon reacted very strongly regardless)
-A customized Deal or No Deal routine for Howie Mandel to predict the case he would ultimately choose, putting him in the position of many of his contestants and highlighting the possibly rigged(?) nature of these types of shows.
-Influencing the way Howard Stern would color in the drawing he drew in my audition round and trying to influence the audience at home in juxtaposition to the influence Howard Stern and celebrities have.

My four performances on AGT were also able to build and have a arc to them, even tying my last routine back to my first routine. All of these routines fit my definition of art given the specific medium because I was able to connect to those I was performing for.
Ultimately, not only did the show help my career, (which was obviously one of my goals) but it’s now allowed me to continue working on my craft with the hopes to create even more art.

Now I didn’t write all this to try and toot my own horn, because I feel like the real crux of this debate is the age old question of “what is art vs entertainment?“ or the more broad question of just “what is art?” I feel like neither of these larger questions are going to be answered anytime soon seeing as they’ve been discussed at length by people more scholarly than myself. As for whether my routines were art...I feel that everyone has their own interpretations on whether or not I was successful. So I'll leave that one up to the interpreter.

I’m in no means trying to change your mind, because you are entitled to your opinion. You may not agree with what I feel is art, but isn’t that what art is all about anyway? Smile

I think the main take away is that we shouldn’t judge a specific medium or the artists attempting to create art with that medium, but ultimately whether or not they were successful in their attempt. And a lot of that is just personal opinion.

Anyways, back to writing my new show!

All the best,
Eric Dittelman
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