The Curse of Mentalism: "I bet they always pick the..."

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ocelotl, May 24, 2018.

  1. How many of you have had this happen? You ask someone to think of a number from one to a thousand... you even give them the opportunity to change it. You write down a number on a piece of paper and give it to them. You ask them to open it and it was the exact number they were thinking of, when you didn't even ask them what the number was... for all intents and purposes you are a real psychic, and you really have done the real thing. Your spectator smiles and then says "I bet everyone picks 652."

    AAAAAAAGGGGH! Do you even think before you open your mouth? You are tempted to even get into an argument with them, suggesting that they go ask a random person to think of a number and see if they thought of the same one. But you know better than to do that, as the magic moment is lost forever. What should have been (and for our purposes was) a real miracle has been ruined, turned into a moment of "that was kind of cool."

    What can you do to avoid this from happening?
    danielsutton95 likes this.
  2. Examine the scripting to see what's causing them to find an explanation rather than enjoy the mystery.

    It is a performer's job to provide a space where the audience can both understand and appreciate what they are experiencing. If the audience cannot understand, or does not appreciate what they are experiencing, the first thing the performer should do is figure out if he could have changed anything for that audience.

    I know this may seem harsh to some folks, but the performer's job is to provide a product. If they don't provide the product to the audience, that's the performer not doing their job.
  3. I suspected that this may be the problem, but the problem is that I don't know how to fix it or what the specific problem is. Scripting is something that I pay a lot of attention to when I watch other performers, especially mentalists. But there is something I seem to be missing. Perhaps it is in the way I am framing the situation, I don't know.
  4. Without seeing at least one performance, or reading the script, there's no way for me to even guess.

    The most common mistake I see, though, is the assumption that everyone thinks the same way the performer does. ie: "I think this is amazing, so everyone else must think this is amazing as well" - frequently not the case. You have to provide a context that shows why it's amazing.
  5. A couple of thoughts to build on what Christopher said.

    First, the essence of the effect doesn’t seem to be strong enough to support any substance. “You think of number, I guess it.” Why is that significant?

    Add that to a presentation that merely explains the process (“I want you to think of a number, I’m going to write it down, say you number, look at what I wrote down”) and the result is a naked stunt which obviously has a method (because there is no other explanation for what you did).

    Then you layer in the attempts to disguise any method or make it seem impossible (“do you want to change your mind” or “You could have picked any number”) that actually don’t have the desired effect of building up the impossibility of what you are doing. Instead, those statements encounter listener disbelief. That is, our natural reaction is to question the validity of everything we are told. In contrast, we readily believe what we tell ourselves. Better to let the audience develop its own sense of impossibility than to make statements designed to get them to believe it is impossible.

    Ultimately, you fail to demonstrate why this is significant and how it is impossible.
    Ocelotl likes this.

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