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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » For A Younger Mentalist... (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Robb
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I'm too old for this to be plausible for me... but if you're a younger mentalist and want to gain some experience performing for strangers in a public place, here's a great approach for you. It would work especially well in college type town Cafés or quiet bars, etc. Use your discretion but don't be afraid to approach folks with this premise... it has great built-in approach factor...

The premise is that you are a grad student in the field of Parapsychology and as part of your work you are required to conduct experiments with the public. For example, you might explain it like this...

"Hi! Do you mind if I ask you a question? Or a few questions, sort of like a poll? I'm actually a grad student in parapsychology at (local university).... yes, PARApsychology... it's the study of things like telepathy, clairvoyance... in other words, "ESP" and related things... As part of my work study program, I have to conduct a number of tests with the public and honestly, I'm a bit behind on that! So if you had... maybe 3 or 4 minutes... to help me out and partake in one of the tests... well, it's more like an experiment... would that be okay? Yes! Ok, cool! You have no idea how helpful this will be!"

You then do a routine for them under this guise of doing a test for your grad program. Now, don't dismiss this! Parapsychology departments are REAL. You won't find them at all universities but many more than you would think. Learn a few that offer the program and perhaps use one as your school (if the local university doesn't offer such a class).

In terms of what material to perform, I would recommend an ESP matching type routine or something like OOTW "because it's a simple test of intuition" (but probably not with playing cards but rather cards with two contrasting images or words on them). There should be a way to "score" success, so something like telepathy or a prediction wouldn't feel right... But whatever you do, keep in mind, if you've sold the premise well enough, there is virtually ZERO "heat" on you in terms of method. Just be completely chill about what you're doing and nobody would think to question that you're who you say you are.

Now, when the experiment concludes it should not be "perfect"... If you were doing an Out Of This World routine, I would have them get about 80% of the cards right, which IS actually amazing especially in this context.

Also, keep in mind, because of the context, you cannot really expect applause or any particular reaction. That is not the purpose or goal here. The goal is to get real world experience performing for strangers... The bonus is that it will give them a pretty amazing experience and perhaps excite them about their own "psychic potential" which just means their own potential in terms of the power of their own minds.
Robb
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Oh, although I said telepathy would not work well in this context, it is actually the PERFECT context to use Marc Spellmann's "Transmission". If you don't know that routine, you can find it on his "Chapters" DVD and he MIGHT teach it on his Penguin Live lecture, I'm not sure. But it is truly perfect for testing the subject's ESP... but again, get a few of the images off a bit... This is a time when you really don't want perfect.
starstruck
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This actually sounds cool...I myself tried approaching strangers and performing for them, but it somehow makes it weird for me. It's not that it's making me too nervous, but I don't know...it feels forced. However, I'll think about playing with this kind of approach, while I work on my stage show.
Robb
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Yes, it is cool... and has many benefits. Takes a bit of acting but not too much.
theothermentalist
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Nat_lawson
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This is great advice. I used to do something simular but framed as a high school project for psychology class, or even for debate club. If you say something with enough confidence people don't question it. I am also from a small, active town and people are fairly used to bright eyed youth approaching them for some cause or another.

Now, when I am doing stuff on the streets I don't use this, but it can be a great way to build confidence in the beginning.

I would say that this idea (using another, more "normal" motivation as an excuse to perform) could actually work in some degree at any age.
If you are older you could have a bet with a friend, or are doing research for your one true hobby, parapsychology. It could be that you are in a debate club and you are collecting data. It doesn't matter, you can think of an excuse for your age.

Other ideas to start:
-John Riggs has a thing where you pretend to be on the phone and your friend bets you that you can't do [mentalism effect X] and you say you can, argue with them openly and then ask someone if they would like to help you. This is one that really gets people in the right mindset, they keep everything fair, but also have the sense that they are cool and partaking in a fun friendship a little. Obviously, there is no one else on the phone.
-I think it was Matthew Johnson in his lecture who said to just go up to a group and ask the biggest, toughest looking guy if they want a hug. The say yes nine times out of ten and then ask you who you are. You then have a clean slate to say whatever you want and they are already interested in you which is a huge advantage. I know this one sounds weird. Just try it.
-Also there is always the "Hi, my name is... I am a local mentalist and am practicing for my stage show that I will do in... on.... etc."

-Nat
jimgerrish
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One of the ways we used to introduce a REALLY young mentalist - one of our Wiz Kids who could be around 10 years old starting out - was to have the MC come out carrying a roll of aluminum foil, tear off a piece and form it into a cap to wear on his head. "Our next Wiz Kid is really, really strange, and I don't want him to read my mind and know what I'm thinking about him. He might get angry and make me forget where I live or something like that."

Our Wiz Kid mentalists often got requests to do private readings, which we always turned down for them. The strangest request was for someone who wanted the Wiz Kid mentalist to exorcise a haunted house (after seeing him perform a mentalist's form of Sefalaljia). People will believe anything if you sell it boldly.
mikelsc
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I don't know if it's a good idea since I am a grad student in a psychology department actually doing research and surveying people. It interferes with people who are actually doing research.

But that's not my only concern. Going out approaching people is a lesson that has to be learned the hard way. I believe the best approach is to be genuine and authentic although it is difficult to do so at the beginning. I personally don't think pretending to be a grad student in parapsych is a good way to learn.

I would just tell people that I am into magic and parapsych and start a conversation. But that's just me.
pacozaa
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I agree with mikelsc.

Normal introduction is fine.

Just keep a positive mindset to share the art.
Conner
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Mikelsc hit it on the head. Be honest, respectful, and friendly. That's the best approach. There's no need to lie to people, reducing them to practice units. Talk with warmth and sincerity. Invite them to share in a quick, fun activity, thank them for their time, and wish them well.
sbays
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Quote:
On May 3, 2017, jimgerrish wrote:
One of the ways we used to introduce a REALLY young mentalist - one of our Wiz Kids who could be around 10 years old starting out - was to have the MC come out carrying a roll of aluminum foil, tear off a piece and form it into a cap to wear on his head. "Our next Wiz Kid is really, really strange, and I don't want him to read my mind and know what I'm thinking about him. He might get angry and make me forget where I live or something like that."

Our Wiz Kid mentalists often got requests to do private readings, which we always turned down for them. The strangest request was for someone who wanted the Wiz Kid mentalist to exorcise a haunted house (after seeing him perform a mentalist's form of Sefalaljia). People will believe anything if you sell it boldly.



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Robb
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Quote:
On May 4, 2017, mikelsc wrote:
I don't know if it's a good idea since I am a grad student in a psychology department actually doing research and surveying people. It interferes with people who are actually doing research.

But that's not my only concern. Going out approaching people is a lesson that has to be learned the hard way. I believe the best approach is to be genuine and authentic although it is difficult to do so at the beginning. I personally don't think pretending to be a grad student in parapsych is a good way to learn.

I would just tell people that I am into magic and parapsych and start a conversation. But that's just me.


How many parapsycholigists are doing experiments with random members of the public in public places? Not many I'd guess. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say you'd interfere with their real research. In any case, I think it's a fun way to introduce yourself. Yes, you're "lying" a bit, but isn't that what you're doing regardless if you claim to be reading minds? Heck, you could even come clean at the end if you wanted to... though I wouldn't.

Anyway, just a suggestion, something to think about and have fun with.
Djin
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A related approach that works for all sorts of outlandish shenanigans is "I read an article, it was really odd, but....." and then you can say the most implausible things and come across as completely credible. That doesn't cover your initial approach to someone, but once you have any sort of conversation going it does allow for steering the encounter where you'd like it to go.

Myself, I don't have a problem with pretending to be involved in research, but that's a personal choice. If you feel like faking a research project undermines legitimate research, you could pretend to be a writer. "Hi, I'm working on an article about paranormal phenomenon....." That is of course just a slightly different twist on "I was reading an article..." but if either opens the door to impromptu performance then feel free to use the lines.
Djin
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Following up on that, I'm an amateur and older than most college students. For me "I read that...." works. I'm a guy you met, not a performer. We chat, and then I steer the conversation to a topic that leads to a "personality reading" or some small mental feat.

I still don't have a lead in that I like for spoon bending that I've been practicing. I have done it in public when I pretend that I don't think anyone is watching. Then I act like I've been caught. It gets some reactions, but it's not where I want it it be.
Dandin
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Or you can have a friend with a camera and you simply tell people that you are filming something very short and quick for youtube. It works almost every time.
Senor Fabuloso
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The op idea is a good one for a street mentalist or busking mentalist who is trying to draw interest in his show. I just don't see why the age constraint? Many older people go back to school to get there PHD or other grad school degree. In psychology the older you look the more credible you seem. So the only thing I'd add is that at any age the premise works.
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

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mentalism addict
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Quote:
On Dec 30, 2017, Dandin wrote:
Or you can have a friend with a camera and you simply tell people that you are filming something very short and quick for youtube. It works almost every time.
that's what I would do
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