Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Celebrity Smart-Ass By Bill Abbott - Another Winner

Let's get right to the review...

Celebrity Smart Ass by Bill Abbott is available for $59.95. Here's the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=14563

EFFECT: The topic of celebrities and our endless fascination with them is introduced. You proceed to conduct a test of the audience's celebrity knowledge by using cards with first names on them. Going through the dozens of cards you call out each celebrity first name and the audience calls out the celebrity's last name. For example you say, "Paris!" the audience says, "Hilton!", you say "Tiger!" they say, "Woods!", you say "Britney", they say, "Spears!" etc.

To take the test to the next level you ask for the help of a celebrity expert from the audience. Someone with almost intuitive or psychic ability in their mastery of celebrity identification. A volunteer is invited on stage, shown a large envelope, is offered a chair and asked to sit down on the envelope. Now using the volunteer’s "celebrity intuition" with the help of their "psychic derriere" they will attempt to deduce the mystery celebrity whose photo resides in the envelope they are now sitting on.

The spectator is handed the pack of celebrity names and is instructed to take about half in each hand. They are asked to toss one half away and keep the other. After they do this they cut the remaining names into two piles, holding one in each hand and they once again toss one pile away and keep the other. Down to the last few names, the participant chooses one, having the opportunity to change their mind as many times as they like. Their final choice is revealed and it’s "Tom" for Tom Cruise. The spectator stands and hands you the envelope. Unbelievably they have found the needle in the haystack, as you pull out a photo of Tom Cruise...at the age of six months! A photo of a cute baby is revealed and the volunteer goes back to their seat to some polite applause and a lot of laughter! You unfold the photo explaining that the you hope that no one is easily offended as Tom Cruise is naked in this photo, and the baby is in fact, in the buff, when the photo is opened! You then ask the audience if they think that Mr. Cruise looks cuter as a baby, then he does now as an adult? Suddenly you turn the large tabloid-size photo over to reveal a very large (grown up) head shot of...Tom Cruise!

WHAT YOU GET: You receive the smart-ass deck (blank....you'll need to write the names.) You receive an instructional DVD with two live performances, a sturdy envelope to protect the prediction, a large color photo prediction with the baby gag on one side and the celebrity on the other (either Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts....or both if you selected the combo-pack.)

QUALITY OF PROPS: If you're familiar with the Smart-Ass concept, you know what you're receiving. It's good stuff, designed to last. Like any deck of cards, over time it will wear out, but I've been using my standard (deck of regular playing cards) Smart-Ass deck for at least a year and the deck takes a beating and holds up well. The prediction itself is nicely printed in high-quality full-color and the envelope is extremely sturdy. If you keep the prediction in the envelope at all times, it will last for years.

QUALITY OF EFFECT: I've been using Smart Ass in one form or another for quite a while and it always plays so strong because it's so fair and clean. I use the standard Smart Ass deck in two of my motivational programs - one for teens and one for teachers. I also use Bobby Motta's Alive, which uses the Smart Ass concept to force the animal I have in the box. I actually have two different Alive Smart Ass decks for two different presentations. Therefore, with four different presentations, I get a LOT of mileage out of Bill's creation.

I believe Celebrity Smart-Ass is going to play even better than the standard deck version because the celebrity concept is so topical. It will ALWAYS be topical because people are so fascinated with famous people. Therefore, for commercial effects that working pros will use, it doesn't get any better. Bill's taken an awesome creation and ramped up the entertainment factor with some great gags, bits, comedy lines and more.

I'm not a huge fan of card effects and out of the hundreds or thousands out there, I have only come across maybe 25 or so that I really like. In terms of commercial card effects for stage, it doesn't get any better than this.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: Once again, Bill Abbot has taken a simple concept and given it the 5-star treatment. When I first heard of this, I thought, "Man, do I really need another Smart Ass? I finally gave in simply because the plot is so terrific. Bill then goes into great detail explaining the psychology, why certain names are chosen, why others are left out, ways to maximize laughter and finally, a funny bit with your OWN name.

There are other bits of business and psychology presented in such detail that I get the impression that Bill has already performed this at least 500 times before releasing this. There's a lot more going on here in terms of laugh lines and details other than just the smart ass concept with Tom Cruise's picture.

Bill is someone who deeply cares about his craft and I can't imagine not buying his next release.

FINAL RATING: A 10 out of 10. In terms of instruction and props, this is flawless for what it is and from experience Smart Ass with a regular deck kills and Celebrity Smart Ass is even better. Since it's flawless, it gets the perfect score.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS AND RATING "RE-SET": For new readers, I base my ratings partially on the quality of the props, quality of instruction and most importantly, how the audience responds. If a prop is coated in 24ct gold but doesn't get a good response, it's going to get a lower review.

The biggest thing, though, just to stress, is the effect on the audience. I've been criticized for giving out so many 10's in my reviews, but as a guy out there using this stuff, if it plays well for me and is reliable in the venues I perform, I see nothing wrong with a perfect score.

Additionally, unlike a lot of reviewers, I get very little sent to me. With one or two exceptions, the stuff I review is stuff I buy for my own performances. I'm careful with my choices and thus do not get 'burned' by bad products very often.

I'm going to be taking some time off from the blog until after Christmas. I'll do my 'year in review' next week - I'll cover some of my favorite purchases of 2010....not necessarily released in 2010, just stuff I myself picked up. After that column (next week) I'm off to Austin, TX for vacation with my wife and will return to Niagara Falls, NY (where I live)on January 10th, so the first column of 2011 will be after Jan. 10th. As I type this, I'm in NYC for some of my final shows of the year. I'm beyond exhausted and am looking forward to a break.


Cris Johnson

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