Should Magicians Perform Mentalism to Children?

Instead of mentally projecting your mentalism thoughts, type them here.

Postby Guest » 04/20/02 04:42 PM

Should Magicians Perform Mentalism to Children?

Mentalism is a very powerful branch of magic. Many adults readily believe in the power of mind over matter. Adults who may hold sane and reasonable viewpoints on what they see around them may still believe that a mentalist has extraordinary powers.

Young children, however, are still at the stage where they believe that even a magician processes supernatural powers. They may accept, without questioning, that a magician is able to pull a rabbit out of a hat or make an object disappear using their magical powers.

Therefore, is there a need to explain magical happenings to young children, in the form of mentalism?

Should magicians employ mentalism routines when performing to young children?

Postby Guest » 04/21/02 11:51 AM

Mentalism should NOT be performed for children. Children understand why ripping up a newspaper and restoring it, making things appear and disappear, and making things change is cool. However, they do NOT understand why it is cool that you are telling them something that they already know.

There have been a few mental effects that have been designed with children in mind. Most of them involve coloring books, the colors of a clown's costume, etc. However, they have all missed the mark. When you tell a child, "You are looking at the picture of the airplane", or "You picked the color Blue, and look the clown is wearing Blue!", they always look at you as if they are saying, "Yeah, AND...?". Children expect some kind of a visual pay-off. So, if you are performing for children, give your audience what they expect.

Postby John Pezzullo » 04/23/02 04:18 AM

For sure!

The kids at my nephew's daycare centre went totally nuts over the "Acid Monte" routine that I performed at their end-of-year party last December.

For this year's party I'm going to throw in some bizarre magic - either "The Skull of Cagliostro" or "The Curse of the Stuttering Banshee", both published in "David Ginn Goes Bizarre" (1989).
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Postby Q. Kumber » 04/23/02 08:22 AM

David Eldridge wrote: "However, they do NOT understand why it is cool that you are telling them something that they already know. "

They are not supposed to understand!!! Telling a child you have just met his name and details about his friends and family will seriously impress him. If entertaining at a house party or school watch the parents or teachers talking to the pupils or guests. They will be using their first names. Make a mental note of a few of these and when the opportunity arises during your show call them by name. They will think it very COOL. It is also easy to Cold Read these children. If at a party you may see their parents drop them off and be able to describe the family car. A teacher may give you info on a troublesome child.
I used do a whole routine on this.

Try it out. Children will run to their parents and tell them you knew their name. I doubt they'll say you restored a newspaper. Children are far more intelligent than most magicians think. Treat them as equals.
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Postby Guest » 04/23/02 09:10 AM

Yes, a child may find it great that you know his or her name, BUT they will NOT understand that as a magical effect. Impress them that you know their name, and then make something appear or disappear.

As a father of two, an uncle to 6, a brother to 10, and running a magic shop I have perfomed for many children (horrible ordeal), and I can tell everyone that children are far more impressed when you pull a dime from behind their ears than they are when you read their minds.

I agree that cold reading techniques can be used to enhance a childrens show, but mentalism does not work as stand alone effects.

Postby David Acer » 04/23/02 10:18 AM

I agree with David Eldridge, and not just because he gave me five dollars. I once saw a childrens entertainer employ mental magic in his act and it failed miserably. I also once saw Gary Kurtz do "ABC Stung" during his mentalism show, and that didnt work either. I say keep the specialties apart.

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Postby Q. Kumber » 04/23/02 10:53 AM

David wrote:"Yes, a child may find it great that you know his or her name, BUT they will NOT understand that as a magical effect."

The usual response from a child when told their name is "How did you know that?" Isn't that a kind of response to a magical effect?

I also used perform an effect Popsy Pegs sold by Supreme Magic where clothespegs attached to colored ribbons jumped off a stand. The last ribbon jumped on its own with no one near the stand. A cross between PK and mental magic. It always got a good response.

Whether you do any kind of mental effects in your children's show depends on you the performer, your performing confidence and competence. There is only one right answer and that is to try it out in front of your audience. Their response will tell you.
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Postby Guest » 04/23/02 12:03 PM

We need to be a liitle more specific here. What age are we talking about? 4? 5? 6 even? is a nine year old considered a child? For that matter, I've had immature adults question the whole mentalism thing.

Postby Guest » 04/23/02 03:38 PM

I honestly do not think that mentalism itself belongs in children's entertainment. Mental magic might go over well with older children such as Tom Ogden's Jelly Beans routine, but actual mentalism is not going to go over with kids and in fact, they will not understand the concepts involved here.

Also, actual mentalism usually has a mentalist giving out personal details that no one could know about the individual. Now put yourself in the position of a parent for a minute, imagine listening to a strange adult telling a young child intimate details about their you see red flags poping up?!?!?!?!?! See what I am getting at?

Now, if we are to talk about performing mentalism for teenagers, that is a whole other story. I perform quite regularly for teenagers, at school functions in their high schools, proms, after graduations, Sweet Sixteen parties, 18th birthday parties and Psychic Entertainment goes over extremely well for these groups. They require a fair amount of "control" but they are always well received, especially if you plan ahead for certain contingencies as teen audiences can be like working a rough comedy club room, but if you are prepared, you will find them very benefiting.

Teenage girls especially tend to be real beleivers in the psychic sciences and eat up readings and such. Goth kids love the Bizarre performances and so give you a lot to chose from with effects using Tarot Cards, pendulums, VooDoo Dolls, and such. Teen boys love the hypnosis stuff, metal bending, and challenge stuff.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat

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