My, my ... ! I seem to be bringing a topic back from the grave.
I feel that this thread necessitates the mention of Paul Draper, who is the most entertaining mentalist I have ever seen in performance. He knows what any performer must, which is, above all, to connect with the audience. Too many performers altogether forget that they are on stage not to amaze, but to entertain. The audience wants something special, be that amazing mysticism, incredible skill, a good laugh, or anything else. The bottom line is that is must be entertaining. Paul Draper, though he does not use material that is all completely original, and though none of it would fool a mentalist, he is the most able performer of mentalism that I have seen.
Derren Brown is a wonderful performer and a skilled innovator. However, he does lack a certain aspect of relation. It is very hard to connect with him in the sense that he seems "on another level" of human existence. It's a far milder version of the affliction from which I believe Max Maven has suffered, that being the inability to relate to an audience on a level other than that of "I am here to be amazing and you are here to watch me." Max Maven has innovated and created stunning material that transcends 4 decades during which it might have gone out of style. That is a huge accomplishment. However, in performance, I simply think he comes off as too artistically elevated. His artistic vision is honorable, but it comes off as arrogant, and the audience doesn't know if it's sarcastic humor or if he really thinks he's above them in some fashion. And in my opinion, though not nearly to the same extent as it happened with Max Maven, Derren Brown does lack a little in the ability to show the audience that he is not just there to amaze them with his Derren Brown abilities. Max Maven and Derren Brown are most entertaining to magicians and mentalists, more so than they are to lay audiences, that is.
If anybody has not seen Paul Draper's performances, I would recommend them completely. He is, in my view, the Pop Haydn of mentalism. Though not using the same kind of presentation, he achieves such an amount of mileage from simple material. Mac King is another case in point. So is Steve Cohen. These performers know what it means to entertain with personality rather than innovation. These are the performers who know what lay audiences want, and that is where the real success is, in my personal opinion.