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 Post subject: Rules for a mentalism opener?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:05 am 
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I was just sitting down to start putting together my first Mentalism show and a thought struck me. How do you open a mentalism show?

What I mean is, with magic, I always use my second or third strongest effect to get the audience hooked early on. But I am basically a comedy style performer. People are impressed, and amazed(at least when I put on a good show) but they always know that in the end I am performing "Tricks." Now some people blend comedy and Mentalism quite well(Brown, Osterland, ect) but they always present in a way that it isn't just a trick...that it "could" be real. Naturally I want to try to create the same atmosphere and it dawned on me that it might be good to slowly build the level of impossibility. I fear that if I whip out one of my most impressive pieces of mind reading right off the bat it might kill the suspension of disbelief and the rest of the show might suffer. So how do you mind masters do this?


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 Post subject: Re: Rules for a mentalism opener?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:42 pm 
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I'm sure benji will offer some kick [edited] advice on this but I'll take a crack at my ideas first. I believe that the first effect you do should be relatively short (something less than 5 mins or so) so that the audience does not quickly lose their attention span. It can involve a story (again must be a short story), and might be more personable if you include a story about it. Say like a background for how you first learned that you knew how to do this, blah blah blah.

I would also believe it would be a good point to have somebody come on stage for helping with the end of the effect. This way you can give them something to "hold on to for the rest of the show" and have that tie into the last effect that you do. Something meaningful to the show that they just saw, and would have been impossible to do with that person holding on to whatever they have (briefcase, envelope that's sealed, etc.). Thus creating a strong ending as well as a strong beginning. But hey, I don't perform much for audiences, so I'm not the expert here, just offering some ideas. Hope this might help.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules for a mentalism opener?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:04 pm 
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Thanks for the input. I like the idea to have an audience member hold on to something that ties in to the end of the show. I'll start thinking about what I have in my repertoire that will work for that.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules for a mentalism opener?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:55 pm 
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most prediction type effects will work... you just have to be creative enough to make it seem as impossible as it can.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules for a mentalism opener?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:56 pm 
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Bucky is definitely right about giving them something to hold at the beginning of the show. It is a "cliff hanger" and they want to know what happens.

Your opener needs to be almost as impressive as your closer. You want to start strong because it lets the audience know how the rest of your show will go.

I'm a big believer that you need to start the show ASAP. Don't come out and give a lecture on how you can read minds, how telekinesis works, etc. Start by walking out and tossing frisbees into the audience to select members.

Grab their attention immediately. You can do this by shutting off all the lights when your name is introduced so they only hear your voice. You can grab attention by walking on stage and not saying a word. There are tons of ways to grab attention but the basics is that you need to force a pattern interrupt.

A pattern interrupt is something that engages you because it is out of the ordinary; it is something you're not use to. When you meet someone you shake their hand and say "nice to meet you." But a pattern interrupt would be something like not shaking their hand when they extend theirs and then saying, "I heard a few things about you," and walking off. This will cause their mind to race sooooo fast that they will surely remember you.

Start your show with a pattern interrupt.

Here is my opener:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a__EOQ7YWdc


And the reason Derren Brown is so believable is because of persuasion techniques. When it comes to persuasion, you don't go head on against someone's beliefs. You have to mix truth with lies. Derren does this by talking about body language, nlp, etc...those are believable. But when a mentalist says he can read your mind like an open book then you think of X-men and things from movies...it is almost insulting to try to convince someone that you can really read minds nowadays. Times have changed and entertainers need to change with it.

It is more believable to watch someone guess the name of your first kiss if they imply that they're looking at how your eyes move versus looking into your soul. The key is to imply, not say. If you say, "I'm going to look at your eye movements to figure out the name you're thinking of" then they won't believe you. Instead, you say, "imagine the name written across here and try to spell it out in your head. Don't move your eyes but try to spell it out." If you do it that way then you are planting the "method" in their head that you're looking at their eyes.

Combine truth with lies and you will easily get believers :).


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 Post subject: Re: Rules for a mentalism opener?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:18 pm 
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Thanks a bunch Benji. So the rules are not fundamentally different than the rules for a magician. I'll throw this out for both you and Bucky and see what you guys thing. Bear in mind I am creating a "close-up" walk around performance. I am thinking of using "Captivated" with a hypnosis style patter.I basically say that under mild hypnosis you can convince people that they are seeing something they are not using the power of suggestion. In this case, since the trance is pretty mild it will be something small, like a bottle cap. I then show the bottle caps, place one in the hands of two different spectators, do some hypnosis patter complete with the 3-2-1- snap! Your awake now. They open their hands and see the bottle caps have changed. Anyways, I have used this as an opener before with similar patter but it was more for a magic set than a mentalism set. I think it should play. Any thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Rules for a mentalism opener?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:44 pm 
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To be honest, the way you've described it now is kinda hard to tell. For me, that sounds like it's a magic trick instead of a mentalism opener. I would believe that an audience would simply think "so what? that's a magic trick". That is if they know you're supposed to be a mentalist.

I'd maybe start with something like a name or number reveal. Personally, I have an opener similar to benji's (again, if I were to do a show, one similar to his... like I said previously, I don't perform often). However, the name or number reveal would work wonders. You could bring up many people from the audience (say around 3-5) and have them write down a name or number that is significant to them. Then ask each of them the same set of questions to derive the number or name. Simply a bunch of CTs, which is pretty easy work for a mentalist (a good one that is). And if you want to make it even more exciting, put a wager on it. Something like $100 is a good way to catch the audience's attention.

That way when you get down to the last person (who could possibly be sent back into the line because their answers to your questions were hard to gauge) you can keep them up there as the audience's representative who will hold onto whatever thing you're handing out for the rest of the show. Them being the best type of audience member (one who is harder to manipulate and judge the reactions of). Of course this being the "optimal" member of the audience thing is just a bunch of garbage. It can be anybody, but it makes the spectator feel good about themselves and allows the audience to accept them as a good representative (even if you leave it up to a vote).

I was actually thinking of just PMing you this idea, but I figured that it is best to keep this out in the topic. For one, others thinking of ideas for openers like you can find (potentially, I am biased of course, it's my idea after all) a good one to do. I do like benji's opener as it is something that can be easily accomplished with mentalism techniques, and his presentation is impecable. But I do believe that having a group of people up on stage with you (more than 2) is a good idea as it adds an impossibility factor to it, and it is more amazing that you can repeat the feat under different conditions.

Also, be sure to change the conditions only sparsely. What I mean is, for the first person, ask them the questions outright without them knowing what they're going to be. Give then, the advantage to the next few people (2 or 3) of knowing that you'll ask them the same questions (a derren brown rip-off I know...). Finally, when you get to the last person that you kept back in line, bring them back and add another impossible factor to it. Again, I'd rip off derren and have them answer in their heads (different questions of course).

That's about all I can think of for a new opener... it's a rough idea so bare with me. Also, I apologise if this post seems a bit like jumbled together thoughts. I was somewhat thinking of additions and revisions of the idea as I went. So if it was hard to read, sorry. I hope it helps a bit though.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules for a mentalism opener?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:53 am 
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I think I see a lot of your points. Keep a few things in mind in my peculiar circumstance. I am designing a set for close-up mentalism and during the show (30-45mn? I'm aiming for) I won't be saying "I'm a mentalist!" I'll just leave it to the audience. So I'm looking at an audience of 10-15 people in a party setting. I like the idea of lots of spectators participating in the opener but I want to keep it to two or three. I want to pace the involvement of the spectators so I don't get "volunteer fatigue." I had thought of the ol' boon tip number prediction but from experience it hasn't given me as big of reactions as captivated.

I get that captivated isn't traditionally seen as a Mentalists effect but I am dressing the whole show up into the idea of hypnotic suggestibility. My tentative follow up effect will be Avlo's "Battle of the sexes", another effect where a spectator sees something that isn't there. From there I will blend into more traditional mentalist effects, mental prediction epic, name divination's, ect, but try to keep the theme alive that I may have somehow placed a suggestion in your head that made you think the way you did. Don't know if that makes sence but instead of using a drawing duplication to prove I can read your mind, or even your body language, leave the impression that I phrased the opening statements in such a way as to make you think of what I wanted you to think of. Thus, you drew a butterfly because I dropped subtle hints that a butterfly is what you should draw, not that I drew a butterfly because I read you mind and knew that that is what you are thinking.

Anyways, I certainly am not married to that as an opener but it fits the theme of the show I am constructing, it is realitively quick, needs the approximate number of participants I want for the opener, and is a proven worker for me. With all of this keep in mind that 1. I am an amateur 2. I'm designing this as a close-up performance that I can perform at parties and smaller gatherings. 3. I am an English speaker living in Korea so I don't get a lot of experience doing Mentalism. Only when I have get together with other English speakers(once a month maybe?) Mentalism is a field that I am very interested in but I would like to hang on to some of my "Magic standbys" that I can dress up with mentalist patter. That way I can stay grounded in effects that I know work and will have solid outcomes while I start to explore the verbal mumbojumbo that makes great mentalism. ie. cold reading and actual hypnosis.

Anyways I don't want to sound too defensive of my thoughts, just want to clarify where I am comming from and why it, or something like it, may be the way to go. You may be right that something along the lines of what Benji does may be better for me, but even then I will still have to scale it down to suite my needs. Thanks for the extra input. It is very helpful.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules for a mentalism opener?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:57 am 
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It's no problem. It doesn't sound defensive at all to me. I was under the impression (maybe from not reading everything) that you were doing a large stage show. Something around an audience of at least 50 (which is technically a small stage show, but large enough for that opener). Obviously something like I described works best for large groups of people (at least 100, since you're possibly doing other group type effects).

So now I understand your position. It's perfectly fine to stick with what you've got, just be sure to make the patter fit your theme/character properly. You can also keep in mind that I too am an amateur. Benji's the one who does this for money and possibly a living.


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 Post subject: Re: Rules for a mentalism opener?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:09 pm 
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Thanks for the thoughts Bucky. While you may be an ammeteur as well I know you have a lot more experience at this stuff than most around here so I do value your opinion. I think I can make it work but ultimately I'll just have to try it out and see.


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