MENTALISM: Audience Reactions

Sep 1, 2007
Oh sweet, Satan, where to start?

Nowdays people want instant gratification. The modern audience wants quick and to the point.

Correction: that is what you want. You re regurgitating a stereotype you heard somewhere and never actually devoted any critical thought to.

There is a distinctive difference between wit and MTV editing. You obviously do not know what that difference is. You just assume that shorter = better.

If you are doing mentalism from a close up point of view it will be difficult.

What is a close up point of view?

People don't want to write down three things and fold them a cetain way and then mix the billets and choose one then have the performer act as if they are picking up signals before slowly revealing the name etc.

That's a ridiculous straw man. I now suspect that you have never seen a live performance of mentalism. Ever.

One routine and ten minutes have gone by. Thats probably why the reaction is not strong; by the time the reveal comes people are already bored.

Because **** things like pacing, subtlety, character, tact, and suspense. Give me the goods now baby! I don't have time for your silly notions of drama, expectation, set up and payoff.

Kid, have you ever performed to a live human being in your life?

Lets face it if you had to go up to a table and say think of a friend of yours.. youre thinking of Jimmy; then you would get strong reactions,

Do you even know what mentalism is? Because so far all you've done is present us with a cartoon of mentalism.

but the whole rigmarole of mentalism is better suited to the stage.

Says the guy who wouldn't recognize a Q&A act if it kicked him in the chalupas.

People generally didn't pay to see you in a restaurant etc. so you have to make them feel like you arent imposing.

People don't generally pay to see a magician at a restaurant either. What's your point?

Telling them to do a million things and concentrate and fold and burn stuff will just make them think "when is this guy leaving; I want to carry on talking with my family/ friends.

Which is what magicians do with alarming frequency as well, Einstein.

P.s. Why become a mentalist if youre such a good magician? Dont fix it if it aint broke....

Yeah, self-improvement is for chumps. There's really no point in learning new skills if you do the one okay.

Jesus Christ, I would need an entire bottle of Popov in me before I became that bloody defeatist, lazy and stagnant. I really hate mentalism threads like this because it attracts all the poseurs and wannabes to come out of the woodwork and prop themselves up as experts despite a crippling lack of experience and basic competence.
Dec 18, 2007
Northampton, MA - USA
I've not waded through this thread (then again, I'm surprised I'd not noticed it before now) but the few posts I did skim by all suggest the same thing "Try this trick instead. . . "


The effect does not make the "magic", that's on the performer. If you are not able to sell the effect and in so doing, create genuine enchantment, everybody loses!

For a very long time (at least into the mid-1970s) Mentalism was considered taboo for anyone under 35 years of age and without at least a good ten years of working shows. The reasons are similar; Life Experience and Stage Experience; while there were a handful of exceptions, the majority of Mentalism acts in the day, came to be viewed as "believable" because a person of obvious years and maturity was presenting it. This is something that adds to the psychological affect we have on an audience which allows us to command a strange sense of obedience. . . a willingness to comply and PARTICIPATE, which is the key to presenting successful mentalism -- that investment from the audience as a whole (not just your helpers) and their desire to see IF things can happen.

THE PROBLEM. . . most of today's wannabe Mentalist face is multi-fold; a.) Magician's thinking; and b.) Age are at the top of the list. . . Again, I'm not saying that a young person "can't" do successful mentalism, only that it is more difficult to do such without coming across looking like a magician. . . sadly, that seems the current trend thank to David Lame and Criss the 40 year old Goth child. . . I should probably add to this the fact that the merchants of magic have done little to curb the misconception as to what is and isn't mentalism as well (the majority of what you guys do now days is actually "Bizarre" styled magic, not mentalism)

Getting Back to the Topic However. . . if, after you've done a bit and people ask to see a card trick. . . well, it's because you are coming off as a magician not a "Psychic" or whatever trendy theme you may be tapping into (HINT: if you're still in High School you won't be taken seriously when you say your can read Facial Tics (what's known as FACS) or you're an NLP expert) Oddly enough, there are two approaches a young person can take that works well; the Psychic or Intellectual Savant and the curious investigator that experiments with concepts.

The Savant Role is quite neat in that it pertains to supposed natural ability. The problem is, keeping it very simple and not to "show off" -- let things "just happen" rather than forcing it. Too, heed the wisdom of Bob Cassidy and don't try to mix a bunch of different abilities LESS IS MORE! If you are taking the Psychic route than a bit of premonition can work to your advantage, but keep it simple! My suggestion would be a bit of Muscle Reading and maybe couple that with some limited Swami & Billet type work. Trust me, you won't need more than that for a very long time. People will believe you if you are not trying to show off and you make it more of "I'll try" type of thing. This applies to the Intellectual Savant role as well, but not as much.

The Intellectual Savant would be someone that can do the Human Computer type bits (math demonstrations or trivial routines such as "The Day You Were Born", key dates in history, there's a long list of said bits) the other more common version of this would be the Memory Expert and to a lesser degree, a linguist.

The Role of the Researcher is probably the most believable for a young person to pull off, it gives you an instant "out" because you don't know if it will work from the start, "It's an Experiment" and not a "Demonstration". This is one of those approaches in which the occasional "miss" works to your favor, making you look far more convincing than when things hit 100% of the time (such as you see magicians do. . . hint, hint. . . )

The Moral of the Story is to simplify what you do and if you want to be a mentalism stay away from the magic tricks -- be a Mentalist! But, as I've noted here, be a smart mentalist that uses age and circumstance to his advantage.

Best of luck!
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