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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » The risk to mentalists and the brilliance of Derren Brown's disclaimer. (39 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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IbiMania
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Magicians are usually less at risk than mentalists when it comes to getting caught.
Say a heckler shouts out where the coin is during a coin matrix, the rest of the audience will respond in amazement along the lines of "Wow we did not see that, he is so good with his hands". The heckler could be someone who saw an exposure earlier or just happened to catch a move.

An example of this would be Daniel Madison doing the blindfolded poker deal on "Fool Us". Even though P&T caught his sleight, they admired it and mentioned how well executed it was.

With mentalists (And I am pointing at ones who stick to a gimmick/persona) it is far riskier. If a heckler happens to know a move or mechanism and shouts it out, the mentalist's "Performing persona" is at risk. If one mind reading effect is caught as a trick, people will easily dismiss others as tricks.

This happened to Derren Brown earlier in his career when journalist Simon Singh exposed some of his "psychological effects" to be tricks. After this, Derren came out with a really brilliant disclaimer claiming he uses suggestion, psychological techniques and misdirection. This is as honest as it can get yet the beauty of this disclaimer is that:

If one of his effects is exposed, he can say he uses both misdirection and psychology so therefore by not sticking to the claim of solely using psychological techniques he has created a self-working defence which is:

Effects you catch (or learn) = Tricks
Effects you do not understand = Psychological

P.S. I do understand some people still believe is is 100% one or the other. I am just speaking my mind and how I perceive an audience would see things.
IAIN
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Oh simon singh...so much to answer for...
mastermindreader
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I have NEVER had a heckler shout out anything that put my "performing persona" at risk. The end result has always been a deflated heckler and an appreciative audience.
Martin Pulman
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Early in his career, before TV ruined him Smile , Derren performed an IS effect to a friend of mine. It quite ruined his mystique in my friend's eyes and cast doubt on everything else he'd seen (and he'd just witnessed 'Reminiscence'!) So it's not only hecklers and journalists who can destroy the performing persona-mentalists can too. That is why I am opposed to IS-ing in all its manifestations.
innercirclewannabe
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I am not sure what your point is, IB? You think Derren Brown has a great disclaimer.. And?.... His disclaimer like his mannerisms have been aped by too many "Mentalists" if you ask me.
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mastermindreader
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I've never used a disclaimer except for one time when I was told that I had to. And they will probably never ask me to use one again. Smile
innercirclewannabe
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Quote:
On Jul 25, 2014, mastermindreader wrote:
I've never used a disclaimer except for one time when I was told that I had to. And they will probably never ask me to use one again. Smile


Yes, that was a classic story! What a great play on words. Smile
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IbiMania
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Bob, you perform material that is majorly original as far as I know. Which is why I am guessing your audience would not know the secrets. However, when someone is performing a published effect, and on an off-chance there is a heckler who knows the secret, he can reveal is and ruin the mystique.


ICW, my point is that the disclaimer is very clever as in it does not affect DB's image as "psychological guru" when a trick of his is revealed to be a trick. Because he says he uses both "misdirection" and psychology. And my other point is, exposure hurt mentalism more than it hurts magic.
innercirclewannabe
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I don't think it matters whether you perform original material or not, it is all in the handling & execution of the effect. Of course if a Mentalist is "busted" - then it's game over as far as the rest of your show is concerned.
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Chaz93
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Where are you performing where your audience knows the methods? The local magic club? I would wager hecklers calling out methods isn't a problem for most performers
IbiMania
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Quote:
On Jul 25, 2014, innercirclewannabe wrote:
Of course if a Mentalist is "busted" - then it's game over as far as the rest of your show is concerned.


Which happens to be my point. The "Busted" part.

The heckler shouting was a hypothetical example but other ways one can be busted are Someone "Exposing" you online, and so on.

Also I mentioned non-original material for mentalists who happen to perform on telivision. Like in the example of Derren Brown, he has used some non-original material which many magicians know of and Simon Singh even exposed his earlier material.
My point is not that hecklers are shouting at me or anything, Thankfully, I have never been heckled in a professional setting (though my friends try to mess with me when I casually perform for them but that's beside the point).

My point is, Derren Brown's disclaimer has made him virtually "Bust-proof" because anything that is exposed as a trick he can graciously accept by saying he already said he uses misdirection.

However, a mentalist who claims to not use misdirection or tricks at all becomes very vulnerable to getting "Busted" in various situations:
1) In after party chatter, a person explains the working of the effect to someone else.
2) A person "exposes" a mentalist online
3) the performer messes up and flashes something he should not.
IbiMania
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Quote:
On Jul 25, 2014, Chaz93 wrote:
Where are you performing where your audience knows the methods? The local magic club? I would wager hecklers calling out methods isn't a problem for most performers


I never claimed that hecklers were shouting out methods during my performances. I said if heckler were to expose the method of a single mentalism effect, it would ruin a whole mentalism act. However, if a heckler or a spoiler exposed a single trick for a magician, the rest of the act would still be pretty much same in terms of gaining reactions.

And I believe it has a lot to do with the claims.

Once again, this is an IF situation and if it has not happened to you and you are posting a response along the lines of 'it never happened/ will never happen', you are not really getting the point.
innercirclewannabe
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I think you are thinking too much about it,Ib. Incidentally, do you perform for a paying audience in Dubai? The reason I ask is because when I was in Dubai a few years ago, I was in a Café & I took out a pack of cards - I was told by a very friendly waitress that this was a big no no. I presume she wasn't a jaded magician? Smile
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innercirclewannabe
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Typo; she should read he. Typing on my phone..
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IbiMania
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Quote:
On Jul 25, 2014, innercirclewannabe wrote:
when I was in Dubai a few years ago, I was in a Café & I took out a pack of cards - I was told by a very friendly waitress that this was a big no no. I presume she wasn't a jaded magician? Smile


Yep cards are frowned upon in certain venues though their number is decreasing. that is because gambling is illegal and they find it hard to tell the difference.

We had to do quite a lot to get the image of magic better, free gigs for hospitals, nurseries, people with special needs etc. Basically people needed to be able to tell the difference between "blackmagic, sorcery" which is illegal and magic tricks which are perfectly legal.

Now we have magicians doing corporate gigs and Dan Sperry's troupe also performed here which made things even better. Things are looking up.


P.S. Still no paying audience but you get paying gigs (example weddings etc.)
Chaz93
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Quote:
On Jul 25, 2014, IbiMania wrote:
Bob, you perform material that is majorly original as far as I know. Which is why I am guessing your audience would not know the secrets. However, when someone is performing a published effect, and on an off-chance there is a heckler who knows the secret, he can reveal is and ruin the mystique.



I guess I don't quite understand what you're getting at. Unless you are performing for other mentalists and are competent with the material, there really is pretty much no chance of a heckler knowing the methods, even of a published effect. I would say don't even worry about that man, it just doesn't happen in the real world. If I'm misunderstand what you've said then please clarify.
IbiMania
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Quote:
On Jul 25, 2014, Chaz93 wrote:

I guess I don't quite understand what you're getting at. Unless you are performing for other mentalists and are competent with the material, there really is pretty much no chance of a heckler knowing the methods, even of a published effect. I would say don't even worry about that man, it just doesn't happen in the real world. If I'm misunderstand what you've said then please clarify.



I will try to explain one last time before I give up,

Exposure of a single effect in a mentalist's routine hurts his entire act

Whereas exposure of a single effect in a magician's routine does not.

That is because most magicians do not make claims as bold as mentalists.

And Derren has done a good job of making vague claims so that he remains safe which in my opinion is brilliant.


Are you saying that it is not at all possible for laymen to expose a mentalist's methods?
Chaz93
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Not at all, it's possible but I don't think it's as common as an issue as you seem to believe it is. First off, there are ways of taking the **** out of a heckler as soon as you get wind of them. Secondly, regarding published or private methods unless you are performing for other mentalists there is an extremely low chance of your audience knowing the methods, assuming the performer is competent in their act. You seem to be under the impression that lay audiences are more educated on the methods of our art than they are when you state:

However, when someone is performing a published effect, and on an off-chance there is a heckler who knows the secret, he can reveal is and ruin the mystique.

This is true for published or non published, if a heckler knows the secret and reveals it it will ruin the show. No argument there. My argument is that this is not nearly common enough to even begin to worry about. Honestly, how many performers have you seen where a heckler had a chance to get up and tip the method of their effect? After performance discussion trying to figure it out, sure, that will of course happen no matter how strong a performer you are, but flat out standing up and saying "AHA! I know this effect, it is in _____ book by _____ and what he's doing is _____" Just doesn't happen, and I don't think you should be overly worried about it is all.
mastermindreader
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I have a feeling the OP is thinking about a situation that is more likely to arise when performing close-up in a bar or at a party.

On stage I have the microphone- the heckler doesn't. I win. He loses. (And not only that, he ends up looking stupid in the process.)

But if you're afraid of being exposed because of claims you make, then simply don't make any claims.

But, remember, if you're non-threatening, entertaining, and if the audience LIKES you, you're unlikely to run in to many heckler problems.
Ben Blau
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Keep in mind that a heckler could just as easily call you out on a method, and be completely wrong about it. In that case, it's no different than having a real method exposed. The priority should be determine how to avoid the heckling in the first place. It is assumed that if you're publicly performing a piece, it should be deceptive, and the method well concealed.
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