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Rich Ferguson - This is Mentalism

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,638
3,955
New Jersey
In a famous quote, David Devant said "The Magic Circle seems to think the mechanics of a trick are the secret of its success. In my view it is only the artistry of the performer that can make it magic." Rich Ferguson proves that premise is true with mental magic.

This is Mentalism is a two hour master class on how to present mental magic. If you have looked at the mental magic effects in Marc Wilson's Complete Course in Magic or Fulves' Self Working Mental Magic and dismissed those effects because the method was too simple or the the effects didn't seem powerful, Rich will show you the secrets to turning those effects into mental masterpieces. The video is structured to show the effect and then the explanation. Watching the effect first lets you see how powerful the effect is with Rich's presentation.

When you learn the methods, they may seem simple. In my opinion, if you can use a simple method to produce a powerful effect, the method qualifies as being ingenious. However, beyond the methods, the value of This is Mentalism is that Rich teaches you the nuances of how to perform those effects. You can watch this video just to learn the effects or you also can think about what Rich is telling you regarding presentation and apply that to other mentalism effects and magic effects. If you do the latter, you will get a double benefit from this video. Also, it is worthwhile to spend some time re-watching Rich's performances to pick up on some of the subtleties that he doesn't go over (he goes over a lot, but there are some that are in his performances that he doesn't mention).

Here is the rundown on the effects:

DECK EQUIVOQUE

A thought of card appears at a named position in a deck of cards. We all know equivoque, but Rich takes it a step further by using the patter to provide the rationale for how equivoque is used in the effect. Rich's use of a "marker" card at the beginning of the effect perfectly sets the stage for what the spectator is about to do.

NUMBERZ

A calculation based on numbers selected by the audience match a prediction. The combination of using a i-Phone or Droid for the calculation and having the prediction appear a signed business card held by the spectator elevates this effect to the next level.

ALPHA PACK

You read a spectator's mind to determine what is written on a card that they freely selected from a stack of cards (can be blank playing cards, business cards or index cards) each of which have a different word written on them. The method is beautiful and the nuances make this effect great. You pick the words so that you can have different sets of words for different contexts.

WINDOW

You read a spectator's mind by determining which word in a magazine they viewed through a window cut into a randomly placed business card. It is genus, pure genus. I was fooled by this one in the presentation. I had several ideas as to the method... all of which were complicated and required significant amounts of memorization. I was wrong, really wrong. The method and handling that Rich provides are just beautiful.

PAPERBACK PREDICTION

The ultimate in impromptu predictions. You can determine a word that the spectator selected from borrowed book. You touch the book for the first time as you riffle through it while asking the spectator to stop at any page. Rich uses natural justifications for doing the dirty work so it blows past everyone.

SPRING PEEK

Spring the cards from one hand to another and have the spectator say stop. You know their selected card before they do. If done right, it is completely invisible. A great card peek... now if I could only spring cards.

NO RISK POKER

You always get the better hand, even when the spectator picks your cards and their cards. A great routine that is made to be performed several times and is heckler proof. As in many of the effects, the secret is simple but it kills. The effect can easily be turned around so that the spectator always wins.

GRIDLOCK

Writing numbers in a square grid sounds boring, but the impossibility of the result will astonish people. I can see myself performing this on a whiteboard or flip pad for a larger audience. Again, the tips that Rich gives make performing this impossible effect easy.

SECURITY

I think this is the best effect shown. A prediction written is on a card by a spectator and put into a security envelope by the spectator and the envelope is sealed by the spectator. Only the spectator knows what is written. The only way you can find out is if you read their mind. No set up required. All you need is a card, a sharpie and a security envelope. You would have to pay (and I have paid) the price of the video to get gimmicks that accomplish the same thing.

TIME STOP

No PK ring required to stop time here. This is a great study in misdirection. However, this is one effect where I thought Rich's patter was a little over the top, but that may just be my style. I went to test it out and noticed that three of my watches (I have around 10 watches) had stopped... all between 5:30 and 7:30 which is time that I was watching the video last night. VERY STRANGE.

SIGNED PREDICTION

Not really an effect in itself, but an enhancer based on the "Out to Lunch" principle.

I can't say that I'm going to perform all of these effects. I can say that I will definitely use Window, Security and Alpha Pack (thinking about a kids show application using index cards with a theme tying all of the words together). The Paperback Prediction is great to know, especially if you are performing Tagged (or a book prediction using the methods in Tagged) and a spectator challenges you to use one of their paperbacks. I also think I will use Gridlock, but I need to develop a presentation to fit my style.

If you are a beginner or even an intermediate in mentalism or mental magic, this video will be perfect for you. You could perform the effects just like Rich does and get great reactions. But my recommendation is to use the effects but come up with your own patter and your own style. Watch Rich's presentation and explanations and see what he puts into each effect to make them work. Take Rich's suggestions for ideas and run with them. If you go further in mentalism, this exercise will prepare you to take the effects in books and make them into masterpieces.

If you have worked through the standard texts of mentalism (Self Working Mental Magic, Fundamentals, Practical Mental Magic, 13 Steps to Mentalism, Psychological Subtleties) and have experience performing mentalism you will get less from this video than someone who is just starting out. I've picked up a couple of new effects that I want to try out. For me, Rich's teaching of the nuances of presentation were applications of what I already knew... it is the presentation and artistry of the performer that matters.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,638
3,955
New Jersey
I think that Alpha Pack could be done on a small stage using posterboard cut to the size of jumbo cards (it would lose its effect if the audience couldn't see the writing on the card), Paperback Prediction could be done on stage (the book is a visible prop) but would suffer from the fact that the audience wouldn't necessarily know which word was selected (Tagged would be a better effect in that situation). Gridlock screams stage to me using a large flip pad and having audience members call out numbers to put on the grid. Security could be done on a stage, but the audience wouldn't be able to see what was written down. However, you could use a second spectator to open the envelope and read what was written after you had "read" the first spectator's mind.
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,238
3
PAPERBACK PREDICTION

The ultimate in impromptu predictions. You can determine a word that the spectator selected from borrowed book. You touch the book for the first time as you riffle through it while asking the spectator to stop at any page. Rich uses natural justifications for doing the dirty work so it blows past everyone.
Is this one of the same forces taught Rich taught on the Tagged DVD or is it something new?
 
Is this one of the same forces taught Rich taught on the Tagged DVD or is it something new?

It's actually not a force. It's a (very) natural way to glimpse the information in the book. I wouldn't necessarily say it's something new, but it definitely shows Rich's creative thinking. It's the type of technique that will blow past magicians and laymen alike, because it is so bold and naturally motivated. It wasn't taught on Tagged.

Regarding the question if this material may be done onstage, I'd probably answer with a resounding YES. Although many of the effects on the DVD may be traditionally classified as close-up material, mentalism doesn't have to be visual onstage. It doesn't need the flashy props and pyrotechnics that stage magic typically does. In mentalism, the focus of entertainment is actually the INTERACTION between the performer and spectator onstage. It's up to the performer to make something (an act, a gesture, a revelation) look and feel interesting. If you see Derren Brown's live show, you can admit he's one of the most entertaining acts performing today, but one could argue the majority of his stage material is accomplished through traditional billet peeks and pre-show work. It's NOT how you get the information that makes mentalism entertaining to watch; it's how you present it afterwards and reveal it in the most dramatic way possible. I believe Rich's new DVD offers a wide array to tools to add to your arsenal.

It's actually a great buy.

RS.
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,238
3
It's actually not a force. It's a (very) natural way to glimpse the information in the book. I wouldn't necessarily say it's something new, but it definitely shows Rich's creative thinking. It's the type of technique that will blow past magicians and laymen alike, because it is so bold and naturally motivated. It wasn't taught on Tagged.

Regarding the question if this material may be done onstage, I'd probably answer with a resounding YES. Although many of the effects on the DVD may be traditionally classified as close-up material, mentalism doesn't have to be visual onstage. It doesn't need the flashy props and pyrotechnics that stage magic typically does. In mentalism, the focus of entertainment is actually the INTERACTION between the performer and spectator onstage. It's up to the performer to make something (an act, a gesture, a revelation) look and feel interesting. If you see Derren Brown's live show, you can admit he's one of the most entertaining acts performing today, but one could argue the majority of his stage material is accomplished through traditional billet peeks and pre-show work. It's NOT how you get the information that makes mentalism entertaining to watch; it's how you present it afterwards and reveal it in the most dramatic way possible. I believe Rich's new DVD offers a wide array to tools to add to your arsenal.

It's actually a great buy.

RS.

Thanks for the reply, man. I appreciate it.
 

JD

Jul 5, 2009
638
1
Longview, Texas
It's actually not a force. It's a (very) natural way to glimpse the information in the book. I wouldn't necessarily say it's something new, but it definitely shows Rich's creative thinking. It's the type of technique that will blow past magicians and laymen alike, because it is so bold and naturally motivated. It wasn't taught on Tagged.

Regarding the question if this material may be done onstage, I'd probably answer with a resounding YES. Although many of the effects on the DVD may be traditionally classified as close-up material, mentalism doesn't have to be visual onstage. It doesn't need the flashy props and pyrotechnics that stage magic typically does. In mentalism, the focus of entertainment is actually the INTERACTION between the performer and spectator onstage. It's up to the performer to make something (an act, a gesture, a revelation) look and feel interesting. If you see Derren Brown's live show, you can admit he's one of the most entertaining acts performing today, but one could argue the majority of his stage material is accomplished through traditional billet peeks and pre-show work. It's NOT how you get the information that makes mentalism entertaining to watch; it's how you present it afterwards and reveal it in the most dramatic way possible. I believe Rich's new DVD offers a wide array to tools to add to your arsenal.

It's actually a great buy.

RS.

I bought it yesterday with overnight shipping. My friend actually gets Ellusionist stuff for free and they sent him This Is Mentalism and he did Numberz tonight and that was really neat. I liked it because it gives you another way to force a page in a book test. That was just my first thought on Numberz. I perform mentalism only so I bought this to go into the collection, plus Rich is a splendid perform and understands the psychology behind the effects.
 
Nov 20, 2007
4,410
6
Sydney, Australia
I read this comment about it on another forum, and I was wondering whether anyone could comment on its veracity. I have no reason to doubt the poster, and I don't plan on getting the DVD anyway - but I'm just curious.

"The performances on this DVD are insufferable.

Ferguson mispronounces words, and falls into the all-too-common "what you're going to do..." trap.

During the performance of 'Equivoque', he informs a spectator that he's going to "dig deep into [the specator's] subconscious", then exposes awful magician habits by adding, "is that fair?"

Somewhere amongst this rambling patter, Ferguson's throwaway pseudo-hypnotic line of "close your eyes and listen to my voice" actually made me cringe.

The spectator is mentally selecting a playing card, for God's sake.

Sometimes I think performers take themselves too seriously and are oblivious to the ridicule they invite when over-dramatising pretty mundane events."
 
Jan 1, 2009
2,241
3
Back in Time
I read this comment about it on another forum, and I was wondering whether anyone could comment on its veracity. I have no reason to doubt the poster, and I don't plan on getting the DVD anyway - but I'm just curious.

"The performances on this DVD are insufferable.

Ferguson mispronounces words, and falls into the all-too-common "what you're going to do..." trap.

During the performance of 'Equivoque', he informs a spectator that he's going to "dig deep into [the specator's] subconscious", then exposes awful magician habits by adding, "is that fair?"

Somewhere amongst this rambling patter, Ferguson's throwaway pseudo-hypnotic line of "close your eyes and listen to my voice" actually made me cringe.

The spectator is mentally selecting a playing card, for God's sake.

Sometimes I think performers take themselves too seriously and are oblivious to the ridicule they invite when over-dramatising pretty mundane events."

it is probably true, but the thing they are ignoring is that when you film an instructional DVD, you don't always have a lot of time to show EVERYTHING that goes on before or after.
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,238
3
I read this comment about it on another forum, and I was wondering whether anyone could comment on its veracity. I have no reason to doubt the poster, and I don't plan on getting the DVD anyway - but I'm just curious.

"The performances on this DVD are insufferable.

Ferguson mispronounces words, and falls into the all-too-common "what you're going to do..." trap.

During the performance of 'Equivoque', he informs a spectator that he's going to "dig deep into [the specator's] subconscious", then exposes awful magician habits by adding, "is that fair?"

Somewhere amongst this rambling patter, Ferguson's throwaway pseudo-hypnotic line of "close your eyes and listen to my voice" actually made me cringe.

The spectator is mentally selecting a playing card, for God's sake.

Sometimes I think performers take themselves too seriously and are oblivious to the ridicule they invite when over-dramatising pretty mundane events."

I think the criticisms in question have more to do with personal preference than anything. Rich has his own style for sure, but I think anyone objectively watching would agree it works for him. He performs like he believes what he's doing is real, and he keeps everything casual. The comments you quoted, I think, are derived more from the poster's personal preferences regarding presentation than anything else. To me the poster was nitpicking points that are not absolutes, but more style-related. Some performers can do things that others can't because they have the personality for it. To me the points that poster in question brought up are more issues of liking or not liking a certain style of performance than they are the breaking of any performance laws.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

JD

Jul 5, 2009
638
1
Longview, Texas
What a jerk. Ok sure Rich probably meant to say elicit instead of solicit but who cares? Let the man perform. Obviously his style awed his spectators, which is what he was trying to accomplish. So he did his job. There is nothing bad on this dvd at all. Numberz, Gridlock, and Alpha Pack were my favorites. I combined Numberz and one aspect from Machine by DC to create a super ACAAN with about 312 cards. It's a very good dvd. Sure it says from beginning to intermediate will benefit more than others, but I don't agree with that. Anyone will come away with knowledge and new ideas. I recommend it.
 
Nov 20, 2007
4,410
6
Sydney, Australia
Glad you enjoyed it J.Slade, thanks for the review. I've noticed that you're another of the minority that seems to quite enjoy mentalism around here. Would love to have a chat with you sometime when you're not busy, incidentally.
 

JD

Jul 5, 2009
638
1
Longview, Texas
No problem man. Yeah anytime would be good. I usually perform 100% mentalism but I have one small magic weakness: CTW and bottle penetrations.
 
Jul 18, 2010
210
0
I just picked it up a few days ago. Mentalism really isn't typically my thing but I thought I would give it a try. I really liked the DVD personally.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,638
3,955
New Jersey
I read this comment about it on another forum, and I was wondering whether anyone could comment on its veracity. I have no reason to doubt the poster, and I don't plan on getting the DVD anyway - but I'm just curious.

"The performances on this DVD are insufferable.

Ferguson mispronounces words, and falls into the all-too-common "what you're going to do..." trap.

During the performance of 'Equivoque', he informs a spectator that he's going to "dig deep into [the specator's] subconscious", then exposes awful magician habits by adding, "is that fair?"

Somewhere amongst this rambling patter, Ferguson's throwaway pseudo-hypnotic line of "close your eyes and listen to my voice" actually made me cringe.

The spectator is mentally selecting a playing card, for God's sake.

Sometimes I think performers take themselves too seriously and are oblivious to the ridicule they invite when over dramatizing pretty mundane events."

I agree with Matt that much of that criticism is stylistic. I would perform a lot of the effects with different patter than Rich used (as with most effects I learn), but the performances were not in any way insufferable (seriously, Rich said "is that fair" less times in the entire DVD than Criss Angel says in a 3 minute card trick).

The value of Rich's performances are the subtleties he uses. Some of those are taught and some of those you only get by watching the performances and thinking about what things he does to make the effects stronger. Doing strong mentalism isn't about the effects but the subtitles.

NUMBERZ

A calculation based on numbers selected by the audience match a prediction. The combination of using a i-Phone or Droid for the calculation and having the prediction appear a signed business card held by the spectator elevates this effect to the next level.

I'm really loving this effect. I do it using my Droid (you need to download a free calculator application called RealCalc - if you get RealCalc and can't get the effect to work feel free to PM me). I actually did this with a borrowed i-Phone -- it was great.
 
Nov 20, 2007
4,410
6
Sydney, Australia
The value of Rich's performances are the subtleties he uses. Some of those are taught and some of those you only get by watching the performances and thinking about what things he does to make the effects stronger. Doing strong mentalism isn't about the effects but the subtitles.

Believe me, I know - I'm a mentalist myself. And if by subtitles you meant subtleties (lol), then sure. The reason I asked was that many such subtleties are verbally based, and as I'm sure you know, congruence is everything in mentalism. Although, congruence doesn't necessarily equate to realistic, but that's another point. Fair response though, I can see how it would be a personal style thing. Thanks.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,638
3,955
New Jersey
And if by subtitles you meant subtleties (lol), then sure.

I'm blaming the autocorrect feature for that one. It has problems reading my mind.

The reason I asked was that many such subtleties are verbally based, and as I'm sure you know, congruence is everything in mentalism. Although, congruence doesn't necessarily equate to realistic, but that's another point. Fair response though, I can see how it would be a personal style thing. Thanks.

Agreed. Maybe another way of putting it is that I think the value of watching Rich's performances is in noticing the intentional subtleties that strengthen the method -- where that reviewer was focused on unintentional quirks in Rich's performance style which may or may not be noticed by or affect the perception of a lay spectator.
 
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