A quick few housekeeping thoughts...
I'm having a NEW contest! Starting the moment you read this to the end of May, I will be giving away a FREE prize to the person who can encourage the MOST sign-ups for my free monthly ezine, "Cause & Effects." Simply email your fellow magicians and get them to signup by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask them to put YOUR email address in the body of the email. Something like, "Hey Cris, I want your free ezine. I was referred by email@example.com. That way I can track how many signups I get from each person.
The winner gets a nifty prize! More than likely the prize will be my new book, long overdue, but I'm nearly done. It's called "Cause & Effects Volume 1" and it's full of GREAT routines from my own act(s).
On to this week's review...
It's CM2: Cellular Mitosis 2 by Docc Hilford. It's available for $44.95 at Hocus Pocus. Here's the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=11249
THE EFFECT: A man thinks of any word, date, or number. He concentrates and waits until needed. A woman thinks of a friend's phone number. The mentalist tries to dial the number on his phone.
He creates a true drama by revealing each numeral, stumbling, recovering and finally succeeding to cheers! years of actual performing has created a script that guarantees and audience reaction. The friend is called and the mentalist asks for the friend BY NAME.
Although a clever billet maneuver may explain how the mentalist knows the friend's name, the is NO EXPLANATION to his knowing ten different digits in the friend's phone number. Something much too large to memorize in a glance. So far this good, solid mind reading, but here is something completely new to mentalist!
The mentalist lets the two friends chat on the phone, then gives the phone to the man. At that point, the friend IMMEDIATELY REVEALS THE MAN'S THOUGHT! That's right. A chosen friend reads a random mind. All three people are COMPLETELY UNKNOWN TO THE MENTALIST!
The illusion is perfect. Absolutely chilling!
WHAT YOU GET: A 20 page booklet.
MARKET: I wouldn't do this for day care centers.:) In all seriousness, this is great for corporate work or any adult gathering. I haven't tried it on high school audiences yet as I personally feel it may play too slow, but I could be wrong.
DIFFICULTY: Last week I reviewed Cellular Mitosis (the first one) and mentioned that the technical work was rather easy, but the acting is what made it truly difficult to do well. CM2 is harder on the technical side and slightly easier on the acting side.
ANGLES: With billet work, there are some angle considerations, but these concerns are minimal, especially from the stage. Bob Cassidy and Richard Osterlind both have spoken on how the boldest of moves can be hidden by simply moving. Cassidy in particular had a great quote, saying he could probably nail write the Declaration of Independence with all of the walking around he does.
Even in a small "living room" show, the angles are extremely manageable.
INSTRUCTION: Docc does a good job of explaining the psychology and reasoning behind everything he does and a slighty less good job explaining the technical moves. In some cases he references some of his other published works for insight on physical actions for the routine. This was a little annoying, but considering this routine is intended for mentalists with a LOT of experience, it is warranted to simply refer to other work, both his own and general stuff by others.
In a very helpful move, he includes with this booklet a complete transcript of the routine from a gig he did in front of 300 people. It really gives you a feel for how it plays, Docc's personality, performing style, humor, and flow of the routine. It's a fantastically useful tool.
MY THOUGHTS: There is some billet work involved with this, so if you're comfortable with billet work, you'll have no problem with this in a technical sense. Now, I'm going to go off on a bit of a tangent as I address some of the features of this.
First of all, I feel that it's difficult to pull off billet work and to keep the show entertaining. Asking people to write out thoughts on little pieces of paper can really drag down a show if you're not up to truly being entertaining. The journey is part of the process, not just the climax. I've seen professional mentalists absolutely die on stage as the person writes down their thoughts, especially during a Q & A act where there's a lot of writing going on in the audience.
Some mentalists excell at keeping the energy of a show high during this writing business. Lee Earle is a master at this, as I've seen him lecture and hold everyone's attention. Docc Hilford is another. Unlike most stuffy, pretentious mentalists, Docc is a true master at rapport and he's unbelievably charismatic and charming. I recently re-watched his "Monster Mentalism" DVDs (review will come) and he was just awesome to watch interact with people.
So, the true challenge with this type of work is keeping the energy of the show moving during all of this writing business. I've presented Bob Cassidy's "4th Dimensional Telepathy" 3-envelope test for over 10 years and while it's strong mentalism, you have to REALLY work to keep the show energy high. I can do it well and others can, but readers of this blog will have to answer that question for themselves.
Incidentally, for at least one phase of this, you can also use a peek wallet or special envelope to get secret access to some of the information.
OK, now I've covered the billet work, or at least my thoughts. The actual phone number revelation psychology Docc provides is sound, as he gives specific advice on the actual step by step revelation and how to make it strong theater. Good stuff.
Next, the whole claim of the actual friend of the spectator's friend being the one who's spoken to on the phone is true...mostly. That friend is indeed spoken to...for part of the routine. The friend will be told that he/she "will not remember" part of the conversation, specifically the part where he/she tells the other spectator (the one thinking of the random thought) what he is thinking.
Read between the lines on what I just wrote, as I do not want to overtly state what's going on, and while I feel this whole approach does indeed make CM2 superior to the original CM, it does make it a bit easier to reverse engineer the whole thing.
Essentially, without being specific, there's some dual reality going on for part of the routine. This approach in mentalism has really gained in popularlity in recent years and it's easy to see the appeal, as apparent miracles are possible.
However, one thing to consider is the fact that after the show, people will indeed talk, and the there's a chance the whole house of cards could fall apart. I personally do not like it when one or two people experience a different effect than the rest of the audience for the afore mentioned reason.
That's why I do not do pre-show work of any kind...people talk. Richard Osterlind shares my view...with pre-show work, most of the time mentalists employ clever doublespeak so the audience is led to believe there was NO pre-show, but a simple question or two after the show will kill this fast. especially at a corporate event where most people know each other.
Please understand these are my views, and may not apply to you.
With all of that in mind, I feel CM2 is a good routine and well worth your consideration.
I'm going to give it an 8 out of 10. It addresses some of the shortcomings of the first CM booklet, but the true challenge of this routine is keeping the energy of the show up high during the 'set-up' portions of the routine. In other words, to paraphrase Eugene Burger, the challenge is making the journey interesting, not just the destination.
If you can make the journey interesting, this is a 10.
That's it for this week. Next week, another review, so stay tuned! In the coming weeks, look for reviews on Gremlins in a Box (I've been rehearsing all week, wayyy cool), "Crush" and many more.
Send any review requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.