Cris Johnson here, back & regaining strength every day. It's funny...I've been told by a few other pros over the years that being in good health is one of the necessities of a busy magician and that's certainly true in my case!
Before I get to this week's review, I wanted to let you know that I'm looking to (further) clear stuff out of my office that I no longer use. It's good stuff, it just did not fit my shows. The (incomplete) list is as follows:
TRICK: yigal mesika exploding light bulb
BOOK: Prisms by Max Maven
BOOK: Theater of The Mind by Barrie Richardson
DVD: Thread by Wayne Houchin
TRICK: (closeup) CTRL+ALT+DELETE by Bill Abbott
DVD: Gallerian Bend DVD by Erick Castle
TRICK: A Touch Of Glass by Peter Loughran
BOOK: The Magic Business by Michael Baily
TRICK: Fate? by Rick Maue
BOOK: The Corporate Connection by Phil Kannon & Jon Jenson
I really like all of this stuff, but for one reason or another the items just did not make it into my show(s) and rather than live in a congested office, I've decided to clear out some stuff, with possibly more stuff to follow. If anything from the above listed interests you, shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with an offer.
Onto this week's review...Paul Romhany's Personality Readings Plus Book Test. It's available from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=18063
THE EFFECT: Twelve years ago Paul Romhany and Ken Ring started work on giving personality readings by the way people laugh and speak. Their research, and work in this field has lead to the publication of "How To Tell Anybody's Personality By They Way They Laugh And Speak."
This book opens up new doors for every mentalist and magician who wants to include a fresh approach to giving peronsality readings. The book dissects the various types of laughter and speech patterns, and how to give readings.
Romhany now themes his entire one man mentalism show around people's laughter and speech patterns, and for the first time the COMPLETE package is available to the magic fraternity. You will learn how to incorporate this in your act as well as give readings on people's laughter and speech.
PLUS .... THE BOOK TEST COMPLETE ACT
Over the years Paul has themed his mentalism show, and humor workshops around this presentation. By adding humor in his mentalism show he is able to give personality readings, as well as adapt it to mentalism routines. The original book not only teaches you the techniques of giving readings, it also has some special features that will allow you to do a full twelve minute book test routine.
BONUS BOOKS- also included is a gimmick joke book called Laughter in the Workplace Joke Book. This works in conjunction with the original book and provides additional routines as well as a special crib built in to the book. This is also designed to perform Paul's Stand-Up Word routine involving five members of the audience - an act within itself!
PLUS Also included is the instruction book which includes the following routines that can be performed with this book test.
1) The Forced Words
2) Between The Lines - Paul has taken Anneman's basic routine and built in to the original personality book a special Drawing Duplication routine.
3) The Crib - using the joke book you have a built in crib used in conjunction with the original Personality book.
4) Stand Up Book Test - Paul's favorite routine involving five members of the audience and the book.
5) Two Person Routine - A great prediction routine using a husband and wife who think they know each other's laughter personality
6) Other ideas using the personality theme for mentalism performances.
WHAT YOU RECEIVE:
How To Tell Anybody's Personality By The Way They Laugh and Speak - The book that teaches you everything you need to know about giving personality readings on laughter and speech. This book also contains some secret gimmicks that will enable you to do part of the 12 minute book test act. 224 pages
Laughter in the Workplace Joke Book - A gimmick book that works in conjunction with the Personality book, and enables several different routines. 333 pages
Instruction book - Explains everything you need to know to perform the 12 minute book test act. Perform all of the routines or use in conjunction with other routines.
All three books are softcover and beautifully produced. The Personality book, in particular, looks fantastic as it is (and continues to be) an actual book that is sold in stores. This means you're getting a package that looks and feels like quality - for a professional, a quality prop is a good thing...yes I know, props do not make the performer, but a good performer can certainly lower the perception of his/her act by using sub-par props!
Paul has even taken the care to produce the instruction in the same professional manner, and a small touch like that goes a long way with me!
MY THOUGHTS: I think this is fantastic. It's no secret that I love everything that I've bought from Paul and this is no different. One of the main reasons why I like this so much is the fact that the two books used in the performance actually focus, as part of the presentation, not only on the thoughts read (ie word or passage is read by a spectator and the "mojo guy" reads their mind) but ALSO the actual subject matter of the book is important to the routine and your entire show (if you're like Paul, who has wrapped the subject matter of the books around his entire mentalism show.)
This is also why I feel the holy grail of book tests, the Mother of All Book Tests, is slightly overrated - the text of the book means nothing. It's completely random. Even if you throw a book jacket on MOAB, it's not like you can incorporate passages into the presentation that have any significance.
Another thing to admire about this is the fact that the spectator can read the Personality book from cover to cover and will never hot upon 'the secrets.' This is a huge advantage over the book test that has been my favorite for the past few years - The Shakespeare Experiment...great book, but your spectator management skills need to be up to snuff!
Yet another thing to consider - the subject matter of the book lends itself well to incorporating it into your act for those high dollar corporate gigs that many magicians strive for. Whether a keynote, workshop or sales meeting, the subject matter of the book, deducing someone's personality, is of key relevance to corporate groups.
I'm only part way into actually reading the Personality book in terms of the actual content and so far, I'm extremely impressed. As a hypnotist and NLP guy, I can say that this information is right on target in terms of "decoding" the complex human behaviors. Great, great stuff.
The knowledge I know I'll get from this (aside from the trick aspect) will give me a ton of material to work with, from the aforementioned workshops to actually making my clinical work easier in hypnosis, because the more I can glean of a person's personality, the better I will be able to work with that client! Pretty far reaching stuff for a book test!
Oh, and while the Joke Book is a key to the 'workings' of some of the handlings (Paul provides several), it too is funny as hell. In particular I enjoyed the answering machine messages!
THE WORKING: OK, so I've raved about this package in terms of concept. What about the workings? Well, since Paul provides the purchaser with SEVERAL different ways of snuffing out what the spectator has chosen from the book (different handlings, some are forces, some are free choices) I can safely say that there is definitely something in here for everyone...there's drawing dupes, offshoots of the Hoy principal, clever forces, cribs, and on and on.
Honestly, I was super relieved when I realized how many choices Pail provided, as I remember reading on one of those dreadful forums (so much negativity!) that a book test called The Master Key was trashed because it provided too many choices in terms of 'the working.' I felt this was hogwash - different performers have different tastes and having choices is a good thing.
The workings are all on the technically easy side - no memorization necessary, although if you enjoy memorizing, you can certainly dispense with the crib.
An important note - for the most part, the workings are based on tried-and-true methods. If you're looking for the latest breakthrough in terms of method, you'll not find it here. This package is designed for the worker, and I feel very relieved knowing that not only did Paul build his book test on the solid foundation of proven methods but he made sure the book was readable from cover to cover - no 'gobbleygook' here!
ANGLES: This being a book test(s), there are no angle considerations that I noticed, meaning you can do this in a house party surrounded - a situation I've found myself in a few times over the years when entertaining adults!
THE FINAL RATING: It's not going to surprise many readers to know that I'm giving this a 10 out of 10. Paul's my friend, so occasionally I sometimes feel a pang inside my mind of "Should I give Paul's latest product a lower score simply because I'm friends with the guy and I need to be 'believable?'" But it's impossible. Book tests are one of those 'standard' items where new versions pop up all the time and with very few exceptions are any of them worth consideration. Paul's latest offering is stellar and for the working pro, an incredible bargain.
NEXT WEEK: The Triangle of Terror by Keith Fields