Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mental Frisbee

OK, I just posted this week's review of the Shakespeare experiment - be sure to check it out below...

But since I can't sleep, (tomorrow's my birthday) I figured I'd add in a "bonus" review, so here we go!

This review is Mental Frisbee, by Nathan Kranzo. It's available for $174.99 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=9227

It's described as the perfect opener for mentalists - essentially it's a 1 out of 5 prediction with some comedy readings thrown in for those people who catch the colored frisbees as they're thrown to audience members.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: You receive five different colored frisbees, carrying pouches for each, and an instruction booklet that details the workings of the routine, variation ideas, and the complete script.

DURABILITY: The frisbees are made out of parachute material and fold up into little packets that fit into their own individual pouces. In the pouches, they transport well.

REVIEW: The method of this effect is something I'm going to tap dance around, but I'll say that it's nothing new but based on a classic principle in mentalism. It's good solid stuff, but if you're after a "brand new shiny something," this is definitely not for you.

The main value of this is the script. As the piece is introduced, you have the delightful and unexpected action-packed opening of flinging frisbees into your audience! Obviously some audiences will be more receptive to this than others, but the idea is fun.

The five people who catch the frisbees are invited up to the front of the performing area where comedy readings are given. After that, one audience member is asked to name any color and you prove in advance you knew what color would be selected.

There's a lot to like about this routine as it's angle-proof and can be done anywhere, even outdoors. (If it's windy, just hand the frisbees to people and have them pass them around til they wind up in the hands of people you want on stage. Easy.)

Also, the routine gets people involved in your show right away. I mean, if you use this as an opener, in about 10 seconds into your show, you'll have people involved and up on stage in your show. That's a very attention-getting way to open your show.

I recently saw a mentalist perform at my wife's college and his opening piece was a nailwriter bit...three times. It was just him blathering. A routine like Mental Frisbee gets people involved right away and I like that.

Another reason I like this is if you're going for believability in mentalism, one popular way of structuring your show is to start with the most believable feats first and work your way up to the really far out stuff. Well, this frisbee routine is a 1 out of 5 prediction. It's not exactly like predicting the lotto numbers, so it's a nice way to start your show if you want to "build" from piece to piece.

Finally, I like this routine because of the blocking - it's a nice lesson in managing multiple volunteers and once you get everyone up there, Nathan provides a quick visual gag involving the volunteers en masse that is very funny.

Back to the script. For $175 the main value of this is the script as the methodology is simple and hardly original. I knew this buying the routine, so I was more interested n the script.

When I read the script, I really liked it. A lot. Nathan's jokes and especially the comedy color readings appealed to me on my sense of humor and I could see this playing very well for corporate audiences. It usually takes me anywhere from 20 performances to 100 performances (depending on the effect) to really fine-tune anything I've written, so I was looking forward to working this out and cutting down the learning curve.

After trying the script out, I found that for me at least, about 50% of the jokes played well and the other 50% fell flat - just nothing. I tweaked those that didn't play, changing vocal tonality, blocking, etc. but still nothing. Finally, I used those jokes as springboards to ad-lib some material of my own and after running this routine for a year, it's more "me" now and plays very well.

Is $175 a fair price for a script? Will this play well for you? These are questions I can't answer for you. For me, this has been a fine routine and knowing how long it takes to tighten up a routine, for me as a working full-time pro, I found it to be a worthwhile investment. The final revelation of the prediction plays well and it's a comedy mentalism piece without resorting to cheap gags - nice, as in my opinion so MANY mentalists are self-indulgent braggarts on stage.

OVERALL RATING: In the end, while this was a good purchase for me and one I do not regret, I'm only giving Mental Frisbee a 6 out of 10. Good effect, hardly earth-shattering in method, with a script that I personally liked very much, but the less-than-perfect score reflects the fact that my audiences did not like many of the jokes. It could have been me and my persona, and that's where the problem with this kind of product lies.

Rating a performer's personal script is tough and utilizing a performer's script is even tougher, as so many things influence the success or failure of the routine, including the way you walk, talk, dress, look, sound and so on.

While I can recommend this product for working pros, be forwarned that when buying another performer's word-for-word script, realize that rarely are scripts "one size fits all" and some work will still be involved.

OK, now I'm going to bed.:) Tune in again next week and don't forget to send your contest entries (including name suggestions for my magic ezine) to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.


Cris Johnson

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