Q & A time....

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by eostresh, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. Okay so I have a fun Mentalism show that plays well for small parlor shows(20-30 people). I want to bump my show up a venue. Large parlor stuff performing for between 50-100 people. So I am going through redesigning the act and obviously Q&A is a good act for larger audiences. I am considering replacing another segment of the show that only involves a few spectators with a Q&A. My question is that there are many resources for Q&A out there. I have read the standard routine from 13 steps but i'm interested for recommendations for other good material. Luke Jermay recently did a book on Q&A and I am fond of some of his material but I wondered if it comes recommended or if there is perhaps a better book out there on Q&A?
  2. Hey Erik

    Obviously we haven't spoke in a little while so please take this with a grain of salt. Personally I do not think you need a Q&A but more of a Thought Reader type act. Whilst the methodology is fairly similar the overall presentation is quiet different. With the Q&A you are required to not only determine the questions but also their answers.

    Whereas in a thought reader type present the whole driving force behind the effect is just to determine the audiences thoughts. Osterlind has some great work on this type of presentation ranging from $250 gimmicked boards all the way to using simple eveelopes and standard clip boards.
  3. The Q&A or variation thereof, like Psychometry has been the single most powerful bit of business in any Mentalism program since day one, most would tell you that it IS what Mind Reading is all about. . . especially the public! Those that pay to see us WANT A READING!

    Don't believe me?

    Ask yourself why people pay top dollar ($150.00 to over $500.00 a seat) to attend a John Edward or Sylvia Brown program.

    Book Tests, cruelly twisting and contorting innocent flatware, Lighting up Light-Bulbs, etc. is interesting but NOT why people come to see Mind Readers do their thing, it's the Readings. If you are a good Reader you need nothing else. . . including those pesky slips of paper upon which the questions get jotted down on.

    But There's a Rub. . . to be effective at this art you have to be believable; the preface and lead-in along with your claims of ability MUST allow for a coherent connection that is EASILY accepted or you will loose. If you are a supposed Body Language or FACS technician you won't be able to do a solid Q&A. Obviously those that lean more towards the esoteric tend to carry stronger potential when it comes to this sort of thing but there are ways of skirting around this point such as Handwriting Analysis coupled with a bit of Psychology (look up PSIGraphico, it's an awesome tool for this theme); Numerology and to be more specific,the Magic Square is an excellent angle (see OMEGA PAD from mevproshop.com)

    If you can find a copy and have some big $$$s to invest, Jerome Finley's Guerrilla Q&A Manual (originally $300.00) is a must have for anyone traversing this path. In the mean time you want to study Bob Cassidy, Lee Earle and most everything by John Riggs & Richard Webster when it comes to this act. There are others, many of whom I list in my "Learning Cold Reading" eBook (it's FREE).

    Becoming a solid Reader is not easy, it's an on-going challenge but it is required when venturing into this sort of act. My suggestion for anyone starting out would be to get familiar with the following resources in the order I have them listed;

    1.) Psychometry from A-Z by Richard Webster
    2.) Riding the Rainbow by T.C. Tahoe
    3.) Easy Reading by P. C. Browning
    4.) Readings as Entertainment by Richard Webster
    5.) Cool Readings by Gene Nielson
    6.) The Tarot Reader's Notebook by Ron Martin
    7.) The Palm Reader's Notebook by Ron Martin
    8.) Answers to Questions by Geo. DeLarwence
    9.) Effective Answers to Questions by Robert Nelson (there is a series of books by Nelson to look at here by this title)

    Please do not let the titles on some of these books throw you, particularly the Ron Martin books, they are two of the Bibles in this arena and will clarify a whole lot of things for you when it comes to this particular genre of work.
  4. Advice for a Perfomance

    I totally agree with this. In my experience I have found that more mind-reading focused effects are better for bigger audiences than a Q&A. The one thing that I have always like are totally impromptu tricks that have very similar outcomes and cause a similar effect on the spectator. My reasoning here is to make your show more open to bending by the spectator and allow for a more "personalized" experience for each of your spectators. Even if you do not pick every single person as a volunteer, people will feel a lot more involved if you allow them to at least feel like they have a more leading role in the show.

    If you want to stick with some of the bigger effects I would recommend going to your local magic store and seeing what they have to say. Also, they would have a better idea of the most commonly sold effects in your area, so you might be able to pioneer new tricks in your community (if that is a good way of saying it). I have always found that the shop can give you some good ideas of what is good, and what isn't good, and how spectators react to certain tricks. Also, it is just so fun...

    I hope I helped a little bit, and I wish you luck with your work.
  5. Thanks for the advice everyone. Sorry it took some time to respond...I haven't been ignoring your suggestions. I've been digesting them.

    I think I will most likely head in the direction D Ice R mentioned. For one, I am a bit uncomfortable with giving answers to such questions. I don't consider myself a pillar of wisdom to be parting out advice to people I don't know. For another, and this goes to a point Mr. Browning made about believably. I am way too much of a skeptic, (I spent grad school studying Sociobiology and Darwinian Evolution) and not enough of an actor, to successfully pull that off. My whole character is based off of a guy who can talk you into anything and make you believe it was your idea.

    Indeed even a thought reading act may be a little difficult to script out. This may be a problem of the ox following the cart. I'm looking for an effect that will get larger participation among the audience. Perhaps I should be thinking of ways to take an existing effect I use and expanding its presentation to include more of the audience?

    WJRX5- I'd love to go to a local magic shop and get some ideas but there are none near by. Thanks for the ideas though.
  6. My advice if you want to go the thought reader method would be to look into any of Osterlind's DVDs. He states that this is his bread and butter effect. If you were wanting to go the cheapest option I would suggest Mind Mysteries 1 as it describes his full act and his Thought Scan board ($250). If you don't want to spend the money on the board you can easily gimmick a sketch pad to do the same thing.

    ALthough you could not go wrong with any of his products and his recent Live Without a Net DVD set has not only a slightly different method but he spends more time discussing the steal's. Not to mention it is a much better performance.
  7. Gesh!

    If you don't believe you can be believable why are you venturing into an art form that is psychologically dependent on your audience investing belief in whatever B.S. claims you make?

    MENTALISM IS NOT MAGIC and far too many in this current generation look at it as such because some fool on Tv gets away with and encourages such an abortion, not giving a damn about how it hurts the craft, limits the performer and in most cases, insults the public.

    Given the image you describe I don't know why you would have considered the Q&A to start with, you're more the Joel Bauer fast talking pseudo-psychologist sort (you should look up Joel's video footage). It doesn't matter what "theme" you claim so long as it is believable. If you are a skeptic/cynic with a rusted iron trap mind then you can use that to your advantage by doing a Q&A that's based on Logic -- a Sherlock Holmes style of studying the patron, doing a brief character reading and then offering an "elementary" down-to-earth projection about their future or the issue.

    YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO BILLET WORK. . . most real work psychics/readers DON'T have things written, they simply ask the question (watch Sylvia Brown). Only magicians want to do tricks (billet switches, etc.) charlatans don't even use that approach now days (and haven't for at least 60 years now. . . except for some of the elderly hustlers of the past).

    Study the material I listed along with George Anderson and acts about Hurling the Headlines . . . learn the craft.

    Use what you know about your character and persona and how you envision it and then turn off your left brain long enough to allow your right brain/imagination show you how to meld the information found in these resources into your act and do so in a way that makes practical sense and instills believability. If you cannot do this you should not be trying to pull off mentalism in that it is requisite to the craft according to Dunninger, Annemann, Koran, Nelson, and a very long list of others.

    Oh! When it comes to Osterlind just remember that he's much more a magician doing Mental Magic than he's ever been viewed as being an actual Mentalist; even Larry Becker jokes about such things when it comes to his act. So you may want to weigh things for yourselves when it comes to how you want to be seen by the public; what the pros & cons are and whether you can live with it.
  8. Thanks that helps. I have a possible follow up question that you may or may not know the answer to. You say that he teaches how to construct the gimmick. I have been looking at different pads on the market and found Nyman's Profolio (still available at Penguin) http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S6776 I am much more attracted to that design than the look of the thought scan board. I'm also attracted to the extra features it has. I am pretty good at gaffing my own stuff so the question is, do you think the profolio would fit the specifications of what is needed for a thought scan board?
  9. I never said that. Just said that pretending to have my powers from a supernatural gift is not something I can pull off. NLP has almost as much bogus hype about it as "psychics" do and people are duped and or entertained by NLP practitioners as much as they are Psychics. Furthermore, I don't offer disclaimers or explanations. I let my audience decide for themselves. The only thing I am upfront about is that I am here to entertain them and not put together a self help seminar. So ultimately all my questions on the forum are meant for me to internalize, and talk through my character and effects so that when I do get to the performance stage I have everything lined up and logical in my own mind.
    You have said that many times before. I don't disagree with you on that point....Have I ever? I'm not combining a design dupe with card to spectators spleen. (an effect I'll be releasing later this year after it appears on the Chris Angel show. The effect will include a medical rectal bore scope!)
    That is a fantastic idea! Thank you. I never even thought in that direction.
    I'm going to tell you why I don't watch Sylvia Brown. The footage available is too edited. Sure she does it all without billets but she does two hours of taping for every hour of footage. So you really don't get a sense of her misses and screw ups and how she handles them. If I had a chance to see her live I would definitely do so but as it is the footage I have come across is of use to someone who wants to believe she is psychic but not so much for someone who wants to learn her craft. If you have some footage of her screwing up big time and how she talks her way out of it and turns a giant miss into a semi-decent hit, then by all means, send me a link. That sort of thing could be very useful to me.

    Second point to make there....cut me some slack. I studied mentalism and mental magic for two years before I started performing it. I have only been performing it for about a year. So in total that is about three years of experience. No certainly prop free mentalism is something most mentalists should strive for but a lot of the folks who do it well have years of experience with it. In the mean time, while I gain that experience, I have a show to perform. One that I want to be entertaining. One that I want to be able to entertain believers and non-believers alike. As an entertainer I feel I should strive to have Richard Dawkins walk out of my show with a smile on his face thinking, "Wow that guy really has mastered human psychology!" I know for a fact that serious skeptics generally walk out of a Sylvia Brown performance thinking, "Gee that was pretty transparent." So if that is the general consensus of opinion from the skeptical side of the audience is nonplussed in regards to Sylvia Brown then do you really think that me, with three years of experience, will fair much better?

    So if it is all the same with you, I would like to continue to use my billets, my imp pads, my double writing, and my one ahead principles while I continue to develop the skills that you cherish. The real irony of your statement is that the only way you can really learn good cold reading is through performing it. So underlining a lot of your implications is a no win scenario for people trying to learn the craft. 1. You need to study before you go out and perform.(agreed. Indeed the whole point of this thread is to learn what I need to study for this particular effect) 2. Magic and Mentalism don't mix. (Also agreed though I have found that "Mental Magic" seems to work with both if done correctly) 3. Billet work isn't mentalism....it is a magicians trick.(That is just can't agree with. Because if you accept the other two principles then you are stuck in a rut. I have never heard of anybody who is good at prop free mentalism who recommends studying it a lot and then just going out and winging it without being backed up buy some classic Anneman and Corinda inspired techniques. The truth is that I have studied quite a bit of prop free mentalism but I simply don't have the "Performance experience" with it yet to rely on it for an entire show. As I get that experience I fully plan on relying on it more and more but in the mean time I plan on using my billets and my peeks.)
    Thanks I will certainly do my best. I certainly will try to do that and I don't walk on stage and perform an effect without first having reconciled the effect with the limitations of my characters "powers" and then creating a believable presentation. The importance of this was certainly hammered home to me reading and watching Bob Cassidy. That said, I do think in more rational ways than many other performers. It is a handicap that I am aware of. That is why, months prior to adding an effect to my repertoire, I come on the forums and hear what other more experienced performers have to say about it.

    Look, When I wade through your patronizing tones, and your incessant belief that anyone who asks for advice about mentalism is a 15 year old kid who thinks Chris Angel is a mentalist, the end result is that you do give some awesome advice. Your free e-books are a must for anyone interested in learning the craft. I will say though that I definitely get the impression that you feel a true mentalist must be, or at least pretend to be a new age spiritualist type. I don't personally agree with that and I know for a fact many of the most successful practitioners of mentalism and mental magic are hard core skeptics. So I know that it is not impossible for me to create compelling demonstrations given my personal beliefs. It may be harder for me to do that than some others and I may have to work a lot harder on my scripting and character development than others do but I am willing to put in the work to make it happen.

    You and I have had this chat before both on the forums and in PMs. In the past I have convinced you that I am not taking this stuff lightly and I am willing to put in the time to "learn the craft." That said, you often forget those former chats and go back to a patronizing tone that would be more appropriate for a younger less committed person. To that I say...Fine. For all I know you have forgotten those chats. I'm not holding it against you if you have from here forward. Your advice is valued enough by me that if you feel you need make unwarranted assumptions about where I am coming from to offer it then so be it. Not all mentors are particularly likable people. So I sincerely thank you for the advice that you have offered. you are a goldmine if information!
    I think it should be obvious from my previous statements that Osterlind's work will be just fine for me at this stage of my character and show development. I'll take his pros over his cons for now. That is not to say that I won't look into your specific suggestion and re-read your cold reading E-book for some more advanced material as my character and show progress.

  10. Erik. . . please understand why I'm a ball buster -- I want YOU to be the best you can be because it means the craft is being represented by quality people striving to give solid representation of it. Also bear in mind that a lot of what I say may apply to you but more than not, I write it for the sake of others reading the thread who may not have considered some of what I say. . . I feel that "elders" carry the burden of speaking to "all" and not just the one, most of the time.

    Then again, there's the fact that I don't remember who's who sometimes, so forgive me for being an absent minded old fuddy-duddy.
  11. I certainly understand the sentiment. Though I'm a relative newcomer to Mentalism I have been doing magic pretty seriously for the past 6 years and on and off for the past 20. So I myself have been on the "ball busting" side of things from time to time. When I used to work on the fire crew we would joke about those guys who just didn't get it no matter how many times they were told. We'd say, "It's like working with a new guy every day!" There are certainly plenty of those in the magic community. Never the less, when you are someone who gets it, you listen to the advice of those with more experience, you read all the recommendations they offer that you have the time and money to do, you put in the time to practice and rehearse your sleights and presentation, and you are approaching the craft in "good faith," it kind of sucks to be treated like the new guy every day. I certainly understand that not everyone is remembered in the faceless world of the forums so I don't really hold it against you but I hope you understand why I get snippy when I am forced to reprove my commitment over and over again. I may not agree with every presentation angle you offer but I guarantee you I don't part ways without giving it grave consideration. The only time I generally do differ from you is on a point of character. And that is the way it should be because, after all, we all need to create characters that are unique to us.
  12. I don't think we disagree on the character thing, I simply didn't understand your vision and especially when it comes to the Q&A. If however, you don't mind lugging around a big piece of equipment and work with a partner I have a hilarious Q&A type bit you might like. PM me and I'll fill you in, understand though, this is a club act format. There are two different routines that I have performed that employ two different props but they both require an operator/assistant/partner. I promise you though, they're a very commercial way of doing things.

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