Comedy Mentalism

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

Postby Guest » 12/13/02 09:47 PM

I perform comedy magic and wanted to group all of my mentalism effects under one character.

What are people's favourite comedy mentalism effect?
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Postby Bob Klase » 12/14/02 12:25 AM

I'd probably vote for Martin Lewis' Technicolor Prediction.

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Postby Guest » 12/14/02 12:46 AM

I LOVE that effect!
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Postby Guest » 12/15/02 07:24 PM

Comedy in mentalism - possible, comedy mentalism tends to be more mental magic. I did say "tends to be". May be a fine line but it is one.
PSIncerely Yours,
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Postby Guest » 12/15/02 07:57 PM

I personally don't believe in the silly distinction made between so called "mental magic" and mentalism.

This distinction has only been around for about 15 years or so. Probably a PEA invention.

For the previous 150 years or so mentalism has always managed to get along without this nonsense.
Mentalism is bloody mentalism. Do it any way you like but don't call it something it isn't.

I do agree however that comedy in mentalism will kill the belief factor very quickly. In fact it will kill the belief factor much quicker than magic will. In fact, I think if the right type of magic is mixed in with mentalism at the right time the belief factor will INCREASE. I won't go into why.

However the loss of belief in your psychic power will be balanced out quite well by the increase in entertainment value. I think that is what really counts.

Still, I admit that you don't have to be funny to be entertaining. If you have the knack though it can be quite an asset.
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Postby Guest » 12/15/02 08:00 PM

Do people 'believe' in mentalism more then magic when it is performed by an entertainer?
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Postby Guest » 12/15/02 08:14 PM

They will probably believe in you less but who gives a stuff?

Conversely the more boring you are the more people will believe you are real. I expect this is why so many mentalists find people believe in their powers.

Of course there are exceptions. Geller and Kreskin are good showmen and a lot of people are daft enough to believe they have real powers.

However a lot of intelligent people will put two and two together. If they see a slick smooth character with a good line of patter they kind of know the guy isn't real.
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Postby Guest » 12/15/02 08:57 PM

I wanted to create a clownish, exaggerated version of a 1950's style mentalist. I realise that fewer people will ask whether I truly have such powers but I don't think that they will be less amazed.

Really, I will be performing mentalism effects with more of a magician style.

A lot of good magic effects (eg. technicolour prediction) are mentalism based but are presented as magic. I want to present them as if my character truly believes they are real.

The focus for me when performing is always on character.
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Postby Jeff Haas » 12/16/02 12:49 AM

Nicholas, watch some old Ed Wood movies to really get the character down.

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Postby Guest » 12/16/02 10:04 AM

Guess the last few posts show exactly why few mentalists actually post in here on a regular basis.
PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
http://www.stores.ebay.ca/Abstagecraft
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Postby Guest » 12/16/02 01:49 PM

Oh, they will. They will.
Trust me on this.
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Postby Danny Archer » 12/20/02 05:19 PM

My favorite comedy mentalism bit is my own routine called "In a Pig's Eye". It's an updated version of the Baby Gag and I would never do a stand-up show without it ...
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Postby Guest » 12/20/02 05:34 PM

Ilove the baby gag.
Any chance of expanding a little on it Danny?

Still the baby gag is a terrific thing. I would be interested to hear what you think of it.
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Postby Curtis Kam » 12/20/02 06:07 PM

I refuse to reveal anything more about Danny's routine. I use it all the time, and for the right performer (anyone with a marketable sense of humor) it's miles ahead of the baby gag.

I do not believe that the introduction of humor is inherently destructive to a mental act. In fact, someone possessed with an exceptional gift of empathy, sensitivity or insight would probably have a wonderful sense of humor. If you can make people laugh, you must understand something about them. That is why a shared joke (especially an inside joke)can be a significant bonding experience.

(climbing off soap box) So don't ask, just get Danny's trick. Then don't mention it to anyone else.
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Postby Guest » 12/20/02 07:25 PM

Where can I get it from and how I can use this routine without paying for it?
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Postby Danny Archer » 12/21/02 08:03 AM

Thanks Curtis for the kind words about "In a Pig's Eye" ... I sell the routine and I almost wish I never did as I'd like to be the only one doing it, but I know of many performers who are using it ... it's available for sale for $12 PP on my website www.dannyarcher.com
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Postby Guest » 12/21/02 12:02 PM

I don't think comedy is destructive to a mental act. In fact I think it can enhance it.
All I am saying is that it will tend to erode the belief factor.You will still get believers. Especially in America and even more especially in California. However, you won't get quite as many believers.

Incidentally, the baby gag is the greatest stunt for frightening away potential believers.

I think Danny's subtle way of advertising was very clever. I might even waste my money. I have been talked into it.

My book on the svengali deck is on MY website, so there. Look at the "for magicians only" page. If anyone buys it at the bargain price of $25 I will send it in a plain brown wrapper. Nobody will know that you have sullied yourself by spending money with the awful [censored].

Your secret will be safe with me. Ask Craig Matsuoka. His worst enemy bought one.

I was never any good at that subtle advertising. I don't have Danny's knack.

[censored]
www.marklewisentertainment.com

[censored]
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Postby Guest » 12/21/02 12:30 PM

Originally posted by [censored]:
Ilove the baby gag.
Any chance of expanding a little on it Danny?
Of course you would have to risk upsetting Paul Alberstat by posting here.
He is a trifle irritable at the moment. Calgary is cold in December.

Still the baby gag is a terrific thing. I would be interested to hear what you think of it.
The only thing that upsets me, here or anywhere, is inane posts that are non productive and reflect a childish need to make trouble. Intelligent, productive posts are great and very welcome. Keep on target Mark without making stupid comments as you just did and more on topic as your other posts in other areas and nobody will complain.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
http://www.stores.ebay.ca/ABstagecraft
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 12/21/02 02:53 PM

I'm probably wrong, but I'm going to take a shot at this anyway: The thing about Mark's posts is that he does post some informative tidbits of information, but he sprinkles them with barbs that attack on a personal level. As I see it, these barbs are quite often just plain mean-spirited so when they are less so they can still be very aggravating. I saw the bit about the weather in Calgary was somewhat lighthearted (it is cold there, but of course it's not exactly warm & toasty in Toronto right now) and his knock on California was actually pretty close to true (this is the land of fruits and nuts after all, and perhaps a dolt or two). Obviously we would prefer if he would tone down the "chaff," but I'm not going to hold my breath. It's his call whether or not he wishes to participate without always trying to breach the boundaries of common courtesy.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 12/21/02 11:38 PM

I wish I still were a youth, though I will admit to needing to stand straighter. My hands are rarely in my pockets.

Opie corrected my grammar after the impertinence. I thought I had asked him a fair question. He answered it, but then had to add something about dogs and ponies. It was an unfortunate incident, especially the grammar part. I suspect that it's too late for me to be perfect.

Dustin
(Still learning; forever, I hope.)

PS: I like the baby gag too.
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Postby Brian Morton » 12/22/02 01:32 AM

Dustin wrote:

I'm probably wrong, but I'm going to take a shot at this anyway: The thing about Mark's posts is that he does post some informative tidbits of information, but he sprinkles them with barbs that attack on a personal level. As I see it, these barbs are quite often just plain mean-spirited so when they are less so they can still be very aggravating.
No problem, Dustin. I've dealt with grade-schoolers before -- I did five years of birthday party magic when I first got into this biz twenty-five years ago. I realize some children, no matter how old they get, just want to get a rise out of people. If I cared about the thoughts of the average svengali pitchman, I might be offended. As it is, I'm just amused.

Bring on the info....

brian :cool:
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Postby Guest » 12/22/02 12:24 PM

Mark,
I am not even going to bother with you in regards to your remarks. The truth of the matter is that no one that reads anywhere bothers to listen to your childish rants with behavior that is not worthy of an undisciplined child. Your contstant attempts to provoke people is not welcome in a forum of quality like this one and I know for a fact that I am not alone in these feelings. I highly suggest that if you have something to say of actual value, then post it, if not, skip off to alt.tragic where you can look like as big a fool as you want along with others that wish to do the same.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
http://www.stores.ebay.ca/Abstagecraft
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 12/22/02 01:01 PM

Actually, I find the "blowhard" character that [censored] plays online to be sort of amusing. It takes creativity to create such an incessantly egotistical and patronizing persona, and he has it down to a science. I often wonder what he's going to come up with next.

There are sometimes nuggets of gold to be mined out of all the zingers, epithets and contrived arrogance in his posts. In person, the guy is pretty easygoing and in fact he charmed the socks off the Atlanta SAM assembly when he was in town for a trade show this summer.

It's an act, folks... but don't tell him I told you or I'll get a stern talking-to from Reverend Lewis.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 12/22/02 01:13 PM

Now that we are done with all of that, let's talk about Mr. Johnson's question:

I am not a mentalist, but I have seen many perform over the years. The more successful and entertaining added humor to their presentations. Granted, the effects were not humorous, but there would be situational opportunities in the presentations that allowed for humor. I do not feel that this took away from the believability of their performances one bit.

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Postby Guest » 12/22/02 02:13 PM

I thank Mr.Turner for his endorsement. He is of a spiritual disposition and of course has respect for men of the cloth. I am indeed a reverend of the Free Spiritualist Church of Canada. I am not quite sure why it is has the word "Free" in the title since it cost me $30 to be ordained.

I do think humour is a definite asset in a mentalism performance. However, as I have already said the funnier you are the more people you are going to lose who believe in your powers. I am not necessarily saying you will lose a lot of people but you will lose a few. I think the sacrifice is worth it.

They will still be entertained but they will be less inclined to believe you are the real thing.

I am not sure it is such a desirable thing to have people believing you are anything but an entertainer. I say this as someone who has done psychic consultations for many years.

When I first started doing mentalism I tried to play it serious but I couldn't keep it up.My natural sense of humour kept interfering. I remember doing a psychic seminar years ago in Ireland and the newspaper reporter said afterwards
"you are more like a stand up comedian than a psychic"

I think you have to work in the way you are most comfortable. You can work in the blood and thunder way of Dunninger and I bet it would work. You can be a genial character like Kreskin and it will work. You can work funny, you can work serious, you can work quiet, you can work brash. I don't think it matters that much.

In the end all that is important is that the cheque clears and nobody throws anything at you. That is all I care about.

The greatest mentalist I ever saw was Maurice Fogel. He makes reference to humour in his interview in the 13 Steps to Mentalism. He felt that it was a good thing to put in a show. It seems that he always used to perform in a serious manner but he eventually came to feel that the use of humour lessened the tension in his show.

David Berglas (pretty serious himself as a mentalist although quite light hearted when performing magic rather than mentalism on stage, I remember) told me a different story about Fogel.

It seems that David thought Fogel was sensational when he worked serious. However Maurice started to use comedy quite a lot. David said "what are you doing, Maurice? You are killing the act!"
Or words to that effect anyway.
Fogel's reasoning was that the agents were demanding it.
David thought it was a mistake.

I have no idea. I just thought I would add this to the discussion.
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 12/22/02 02:36 PM

Dustin:

I think you have nailed an important distinction, and that is the difference between comedy and humor... at least in terms of intent.

One of the things I tell my clients is that while I use humor in my act, I am not a comedian or a comedy magician. In grand theatrical terms, I'm more comic than tragic (I hope!), but I'm not there to create a series of laughs and guffaws.

In terms of mentalism and mental magic, I think there is certainly room for the use of humor in the context of communicating your personality to the audience, or in the course of exploiting a situation which has some kind of situational humor. Martin Lewis' "Technicolor Prediction" uses humor -- and the 3-beat form -- to set up a mental effect which plays fairly strong.

I personally think that the creation of a zany mentalism act would detract from the effect... but the character, if strong enough, might pull it off. Perhaps the reason the performer has the mental abilities he is demonstrating is that he has some kind of psychosis that borders on insanity... off the wall remarks, perhaps inappropriate... but if and when he is able to focus long enough to use his "power," the results are impossibly baffling... sort of a "psychological oddity" persona...

Who knows? Maybe it would be great...

JMT
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Postby Guest » 12/22/02 02:59 PM

I have always had the belief that comedy and magic shouldn't go together at the same time as comedy is based around taking two mutually exclusive frames of reference and juxtaposing them where as magic takes a single frame of reference or reality and breaks it down. You shouldn't end an effect on a punchline AND a magical occurance. (of course technicolour prediction does just that so their are exceptions)

As a comedy mentalist I would be able to lead up the effect with the comedy character etc. and then hit them at the end with a strong magical (or mental) finish.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 12/24/02 03:47 PM

Please note that I've edited some of Mr. Lewis's posts. The role of a moderator is to moderate, not expurgate at every turn. We do not wish to censor in flippant, arbitary, or draconian ways; however, as Dustin said, when cant becomes too trivial, sophmoric, self-referential, or silly...such palaver will be "cut." Over and out. Kaput. Finis.

Also, when complaints about specific posters become too numerous, then the guilty party goes on the "endangered" list and then is ousted. End of story.

There are of course many bulletin boards and forums "out there" that welcome and encourage low-level gossip and elbow-nudging badinage--all in the dubious name of "wit" and "humor."

Some of the same persons who descry educated discussion as being too stodgy, boring, or lofty, are rarely known outside the precincts of magicdom as great wits, conversationalists, comics, thinkers, or performers. They soon discover that the real world is a regulated meritocracy where "blowing hard" is the only power the powerless seem to have...

So...

At this moment I'm thinking of something Paul Goodman once said:

"Where there is official censorship it is a sign that speech is serious. Where there is none, it is pretty certain that the official spokesmen have all the loud-speakers."

We moderators frown on loud-speakers in this Forum.
We also think that speech here is serious, particularly if it's supposed to be humorous, satirical, or comical.

We expect more...

Otherwise...
The discourse, generally speaking, has been interesting...

Onward...
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Postby Guest » 12/26/02 01:37 PM

I think I am one of the few people here who has actually met Mr.Lewis. I find all the fuss here quite astonishing.

In person I have found him to be shy, reserved and polite.

In addition to this I have seen him perform impromptu. He is easily the most entertaining card magician I have ever seen. In fact just watching him got me interested in the subject in the first place.

I don't know him very well but we are in the same line of business. I am wondering if I am talking about the same person who is mentioned here. I think he is.

I am new at magic. I hope I am not talking out of turn. I can only report what I know from my own experience. I hope nobody is offended by this.

Happy Holidays!
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Postby Guest » 01/06/03 01:28 PM

To return to the topic of comedy mentalism

I recommend to all Roger Rittner's act with his assistant Medium Raya.

That was one of the most delightful half hours I ever spent in a magic milieu. His closing line hangs on my ears after all this time.
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Postby David Alexander » 01/06/03 09:14 PM

Broad comedy in the character of a parody that is accompanied by actually fooling the audience is difficult to pull off. Effective material will take a long time to develop and getting the character just right and making a match with the timing and the material will also take lots of time. You have a daunting task ahead of you.

People forget that Dunninger was charming as well as serious. If he asked someone if they'd ever met him and they replied in the negative, Joe would say with a smile, "You seem proud of that." Everyone, including the spectator, would laugh.

Charm, as part of a mentalism presentation is vital to keep it from being a drag. Too many mentalists are overly serious. Docc Hilford is a great example of someone who knows exactly when to lighten things up.
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Postby Guest » 01/09/03 07:40 AM

Originally posted by Paul Alberstat:
Guess the last few posts show exactly why few mentalists actually post in here on a regular basis.
PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
http://www.stores.ebay.ca/Abstagecraft
Paul... we both know you can't get a magician to see the difference. Even Stephan Minch tipped his frustration around this "issue" back in the 70s in a few of his books. Magicians have to have an excuse to have "stuff" (especially in their pockets... preferrably of the lattest "trendy" flavor.) And just like their card & coin tricks, they don't want to believe yuo need to put that extra bit of "self" into the venture so as to make it a miracle vs. a freak'n trick or puzzle.

We will never be able to get them to see the subtle difference between doing an obvious trick and milking an effect dry when presented under the auspices via which you and I are used to working. Unfortunately, they know it all and have all the answers... just ask them! :rolleyes:
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Postby Guest » 01/09/03 02:31 PM

As for comedy in Mentalism, I've never seen one of Max Maven's shows, but I've watched his VideoMind series too many times to count. There is definitely a lot of humor involved in his act and with his character, although I would never categorize him as a comedy Mentalist. I guess some humor might be necessary in order to be entertaining. It is an interesting topic.

Patrick
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Postby Guest » 01/10/03 07:55 AM

Originally posted by Patrick Robinson:
As for comedy in Mentalism, I've never seen one of Max Maven's shows, but I've watched his VideoMind series too many times to count. There is definitely a lot of humor involved in his act and with his character, although I would never categorize him as a comedy Mentalist. I guess some humor might be necessary in order to be entertaining. It is an interesting topic.

Patrick
Max has a wonderfully wry sense of humor as I've seen in many of today's more noted performers. Even T.A. was known for generating a nervous kind of laughter from folks.

I was discussing this on a different forum and for me at least, it is a skill that's nearly as in-depth as learning how to present each effect at the highest possible level for response. It also required a bit of honesty about who and what I am when I work... though I can choreograph sequences and use sound bites, etc. to cue laughter, I've found it is my inability to hold a poker face that accents the otherwise dark humor sewn into routines. Too, the addition of a bit of corn here and there (the typical bad jokes and obviously "trick" type situations) makes the experience for both, the audience and me, more fun! I believe that really is the point to it all... isn't it?
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Postby Guest » 01/11/03 07:48 PM

Does Maven ridicule or satirise Mentalism at the core of his character?
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Postby Guest » 01/12/03 12:24 PM

Originally posted by Nicholas J. Johnson:
Does Maven ridicule or satirise Mentalism at the core of his character?
Good point! But I think he's just firmly planting the tongue-firmly-n-cheek when it comes to the whole of humanity...
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Postby Frank Starsinic » 01/23/03 11:26 AM

I very much like Danny Archer's Triple Threat.
I use it in nearly every show I do as a comedy piece.

I use it as a running thread through the rest of my show (as I learned it from Danny's Lecture).

I modified the handling to better hide the method and it works great.

I did that because I figured out the method when I saw it performed (and I never figure out anything).
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/23/03 01:58 PM

Danny Archer: Your website link doesn't work... help me!

BTW, at a convention the chairman came up to me and asked me if I could help him out. He needed an act for the "Ladies Coffee Brunch." I said, "I can do something, how much time?"

He told me about 20 minutes.

That night I decided to throw in a couple of Mental effects (Fogel's Second Spot-psychometry, and Shaxon's prediction effect, Confabulation).

I normally work stand up type comedic stuff, decided to (as Koran did) open with linking rings, do the mental stuff and close with my regular act closer card in balloon.

It went well, too well... the outcome SCARED ME.. even tho I played the psychometry as all silly and funny (I had NEVER done it for an audience before)... after the show I was literally rushed by about a dozen women BELIEVING I HAD PSYCHIC POWER... they wanted to know where I would do readings, etc.

I had to get out of there fast!
Stay tooned.
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