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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Kreskin (8 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

kissdadookie
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So, I've recently gone to go see Kreskin perform and boy oh boy is it a truly old fashioned style show. The audience consisted of 110% super fans of his. People from the days of Carson so my read on the audience was that they believed him to be the real thing. Now, the reason I am posting this is that I would like to see other people's experiences when seeing Kreskin live. I'll break my observations into two sections.

What I Liked

1) Complete control of the audience via various methods which includes berating them.
2) He does exactly what he claims to do which includes his wager of a million dollars now that you can't catch him using stooges, confederates, or electronic devices (100% true).
3) His approach to the "muscle reading" bank night IMO was very intelligently put together. (he may have been using real muscle reading maybe not, it's not like he actually needed it, with that crowd, the audience practically stuck out their fingers to point at where the "check" was hidden).
4) Lot's of really great anecdotes from the old days.

What I Didn't Like

1) This might be just due to age, but his memory in terms of remembering who's up there with him, etc. is terrible.
2) He basically poo poo's all other performers as part of his patter. This is especially bad when he is introducing the Q&A.
3) His introduction of the Q&A includes tipping the method of why we sometimes hold billets up to our temple (he literally tells the audience it's because they are reading the billet) as well as poo poo's the use of fish bowls to collect the billets.

Appreciated but Also Disliked

1) His treatment of the audience. Much of it was rude and much of it was him berating people. Now, the reason I do in someway appreciate witnessing this is that it demonstrated how it does make your participants more compliant when you direct them on what to do. This does aid you for having a smoother show and lowers the risk of you having to jazz through unexpected events. What I disliked about it is of course the rudeness and the berating of people.

I think mentalism and magic has, from a presentations standpoint, advanced much since the prime years of Kreskin. Bob Cassidy (whom I've seen live before when he was still around) Kreskin is not but I do respect the history associated with him. What are some of your experiences seeing Kreskin live? What are your views on how he poo poo's other performers and more or less tips why billets are used and what performers are doing when handling a billet?
Stunninger
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts and what you liked & disliked. Was just thinking about Kreskin earlier today, a few hours before I read your post. Interesting timing.

Always wanted to see Kreskin live. He came to my city a few years ago and I missed the opportunity to see him.
George Hunter
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Thanks for the very thoughtful reflection. I appreciate the reasons why Kreskin is a legend, but such public berating of people may reveal a flawed humanity underneath the persona. Some great magicians, and mentalists, love their audiences.

And many performers have mastered the art of audience control without berating anyone.

George
John C
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I know he's a fav of many but I never caught the kreskin wave. Not my scene. He's obviously good.
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kissdadookie
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Quote:
On May 21, 2019, George Hunter wrote:
Thanks for the very thoughtful reflection. I appreciate the reasons why Kreskin is a legend, but such public berating of people may reveal a flawed humanity underneath the persona. Some great magicians, and mentalists, love their audiences.

And many performers have mastered the art of audience control without berating anyone.

George


I think he uses that berating of the audience as a means of audience control. I personally would not go that route but I can't argue that it isn't effective if one wants something efficient and more or less skip the whole building a rapport thing. LoL.
j100taylor
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I've posted this before but when I saw him perform he berated a 10 year old child because he got up to use the rest room during his check finding trick. Then got on the parent's case for raising such an ill-manored child. Hard to see how this some audience management technique, but like George says, more like a character flaw.
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kissdadookie
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Quote:
On May 22, 2019, j100taylor wrote:
I've posted this before but when I saw him perform he berated a 10 year old child because he got up to use the rest room during his check finding trick. Then got on the parent's case for raising such an ill-manored child. Hard to see how this some audience management technique, but like George says, more like a character flaw.


The audience management technique part may be inadvertent but the berating I've watched did have the effect of making the participants more compliant. That might be out of fear of getting chewed out by him or they may just want it to be over with more quickly and thus complying better. So I've noticed this berating of the audience most noticeably during the finale, his muscle reading bank nite routine. If you think about it critically, if your spectators are in fear of getting chewed out because they saw what happened with the earlier participants, it's likely that they would more likely help out (if you know what I mean) just to get it over with. To the rest of the audience they don't see this, but if you were a performer that understands what is going on and witnessed this, you would likely see how this ultimately helps him achieve his end goal.

I of course am not saying this is a good thing but it certainly did have a positive effect on achieving the end results he wanted. This in my opinion does make that finale routine easier to achieve but if it was me, I would have just scrapped that routine altogether if it meant that I either had to put fear into my participants or I would have to make that bit go on forever (or just use a completely different method tbh).
Jerskin
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I've seen him perform and hung out with him. Don't recall him berating the audience. His entire 2 hour show fits in a briefcase.
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innercirclewannabe
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I think the constant banging on of how many times he was on Carson, the famous people he has performed for, etc, etc, is way too much. It fact to a modern audience it is crass.I never liked the whole talking down, and at the audience schtick. In fact if you put those two traits together it would suggest that you're witnessing a very inexperienced performer who is out of his depth on stage. Of course this isn't the case - it is most likely his sense of importance that gets in the way of him performing in a much more likable way. The whole thing about exposing other methods is really churlish and it always makes me laugh. This coming from a man who it is alleged stole Dunniger's act. Smile

All that said, he does have a stellar career behind him, and you'd be wise to try catch him live while you can, just to witness some of the (better) management techniques he employs. His Q & A at one point is as bold as you can get. He is also an accomplished hypnotist ( who doesn't believe in hypnosis) - and his finding the cheque routine is superb. He doesn't strike me as the nicest guy you could meet, I think his ego gets in the way of this, but I do find myself intrigued and fascinated by his past work and the stuff he is still up to.
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j100taylor
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Well said
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Pit Boss
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Several of us from the local magic scene traveled about an hour several years ago to see his show. In the first 20 minutes he threatened to cancel the performance four or five times due to "mic problems" which turned out to be the lavalier rubbing on his lapel. Then, during a card trick, the lady on stage dropped the deck. He acted like the world just ended, and his tantrum humiliated her. Other awkward incidents followed. We still talk about it.
kissdadookie
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I do agree about the muscle reading bank nite thing, he does a good job with it. It most certainly inspired me to incorporate using multiple spectators for finding a object using muscle reading. I thought that was a very clever way to increase your success rate exponentially.

His Q&A though, I thought it was very standard. Nothing particularly unique or innovative with the methods or presentations I've seen. Cassidy does it far better and so does Jermay. Neither of those two poo poo's or tips methods other performers use either to lend more credibility to themselves. LoL.
GlennLawrence
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Appreciate your thorough review. I have seen Kreskin live on 2 occasions, once in 1983 and more recently about 6 years ago. Despite decades between them, the show has changed very little. He did his hypnosis routine in the first show but not the later one. And as someone stated he begins it by saying there is no such thing as hypnosis. His take is that hypnosis implies a literal trance state, and that's not what he does, it's just the power of suggestion. The routine was good though, very funny and quite entertaining.

He did and still does begin the show by prattling on for what seems like forever about being on Carson and all the famous people he hung out with back in the day, most of whom are presently deceased and virtually unknown to anyone in the audience under a certain age. This really serves no purpose or relation to the rest of the show except for him to stroke his own ego I suppose.

As far as the berating, I can't remember so much from the 80's era show, but certainly there was some in the more recent version. I particularly recall at one point he caught some younger person in the crowd checking their cell phone and that set him off pretty good and turned into a little rant about how rude people are with phones in public.

The routines are as solid as ever, and overall he delivers the goods. I can recall many audible gasps and statements like "No way, Get out of here!" from the audience during the Q&A and at many other points. And for the recent show I was picked for the committee to hide his check at the end, which of course he found and they loved it. What really amazes me is the energy level he had. He was about 78 years old and after being introduced, ran down the center aisle like he was 50 years younger.

That's about all I've got. If you've never seen him live you should. He's not the most likable, and the show plods in spots but there's no denying he's a legend. He's about 85 now so you don't have time to put it off!
Stunninger
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It's wonderful Kreskin is still active and performing at age 85. What a blessing to be healthy and doing work he loves for so long.
Stunninger
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Three observations about Kreskin I find valuable:

1. His show has gone largely unchanged for 40+ years. Rather than add new effects he continued to refine and perfect his existing routines.

2. Kreskin's early career Canadian TV show is likely what catapulted him to fame.

3. After his TV show ended Kreskin continued to seek out radio and TV appearances to promote himself and his appearances.
saysold1
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Thanks for this fascinating post.

Compliance is absolutely critical in a stage show. Maybe one of the most important. How we get it (or don’t) - is worthy of discussion.

I’ve never seen Kreskin but I would like too someday before he’s gone. As a side note many current top Mentalist’s also show an edgier side, with great success. It sounds like perhaps Kreskin crosses over into the at times rude category (or mean). But a bit of edge seems a good thing and a “don’t !@$ with me” attitude shown early. Personally I like to mingle a bit with even big groups before a show at Cocktails if possible or watch the group interact as they are eating before my show allowing some better /less random choices to avoid inebriated or alphas. But even then sometimes you get challenged.

From my view some other performers with a “don’t mess with me” undertone might be Ross Johnson, Lior Suchard, Lior Manor, Jon Stetson, the late Bob Cassidy and even Michael Weber. What they all have in common is a dint of persona edge that they mix in early when/if needed.
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kissdadookie
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Quote:
On May 26, 2019, saysold1 wrote:
Thanks for this fascinating post.

Compliance is absolutely critical in a stage show. Maybe one of the most important. How we get it (or don’t) - is worthy of discussion.

I’ve never seen Kreskin but I would like too someday before he’s gone. As a side note many current top Mentalist’s also show an edgier side, with great success. It sounds like perhaps Kreskin crosses over into the at times rude category (or mean). But a bit of edge seems a good thing and a “don’t !@$ with me” attitude shown early. Personally I like to mingle a bit with even big groups before a show at Cocktails if possible or watch the group interact as they are eating before my show allowing some better /less random choices to avoid inebriated or alphas. But even then sometimes you get challenged.

From my view some other performers with a “don’t mess with me” undertone might be Ross Johnson, Lior Suchard, Lior Manor, Jon Stetson, the late Bob Cassidy and even Michael Weber. What they all have in common is a dint of persona edge that they mix in early when/if needed.


Out of the ones you've listed, I've seen Bob Cassidy live once and I've see Jon Stetson live twice. In comparison, in my opinion, they both handle the "don't mess with me" in a better/more agreeable manor. So for those two, they are clear with instructions and commanding thus what they intend with what they ask of the spectator is very clear and leaves the spectator wanting not to misstep more because they are on stage and don't want to mess up. Those two also tend to roll with the punches better. Kreskin to his credit, he does sometimes (at the performance I saw) apologize and mention that he isn't trying to intentionally berate folks and he does thank his participants.

What's also very interesting is due to his age now, it's really hard to gauge how much of his "bumbling idiot" appearance at times is part of the act and what part of it is just simply old age, either way that does work to his advantage as well. The material was all very standard material but done very well even though he does liberally poo poo on other performers telling the story how showrunners and producers come to him regularly bringing "copycats" to his attention of folks doing what he does. I think this story works for laypeople but as a magician/mentalist that understands the history of performers and the material they perform, it feels a bit disrespectful to those that came before him and the material that he uses from them (I think apart from some personal touches to the muscle reading act, the rest of the material is essentially not his). This is where I think the newer performers most definitely show a lot more respect for the history of magic and mentalism.
Mindpro
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I agree with much of what Kissadookie said above. Kreskin definitely has an ego and it has gotten much worse over the years in the belittling and berating audience members and those on stage with him. Today, he is performing based on his legend, not his current works or level of proficiency.

To a generation, there was no better, but to those today, many don't know him or the many stars he makes reference to during his show (Bob Hope, Mike Douglas, Cavett, Carson, etc.). This offends him. He has a following and a set of resources unavailable to other performers that he should be using to create the Kreskin of his current age, status, and positioning. He isn't doing this, but rather not repositioning himself, but rather turning into that cantankerous older performer that was a shell of what he once was. A few contemporary adjustments and he could have a whole new and more proper for the times image and status.
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