Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Day & REVIEW: Mental Miracles DVD

Happy Turkey Day!!

Yes, those of us in the US celebrate Thanksgiving, and many of us merely call it "Turkey Day," in honor of the (typically) most often served dish. Rather than take this week off, I decided to get right to it this week with in my opinion, a true classic in terms of mentalism releases on DVD.

Of course I'm talking about...."Mental Miracles," by Bob Cassidy! It's available on DVD from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link: It's available for $34.95.

AD COPY: Bob Cassidy, one of America's foremost mentalists, has been a professional entertainer for more than 25 years. Author of The Art of Mentalism, a modern day classic, he has the unique ability to convince any audience that he can read their innermost thoughts, while also amazing and entertaining them in the process.

On this DVD Cassidy performs his professional show in front of an amazed audience of mentalists and then explains everything. If you ever wanted to make people believe you can read their minds, you must see this tape. Cassidy teaches many of his original routines and discusses how to structure, present and create a mind reading show.

Routines Taught:

Chronologue: A predicted card matches what is written in a diary on a freely selected date. New work and psychology including stage and close-up versions.

Name/Place Routine: A couple of spectators think of a person and a place and you divine their thoughts.

Psychomatic Deck: A spectator looks at a card in the deck and you read their mind, telling them what card they are thinking of.

Fourth Dimensional Telepathy: You reveal the name of a childhood friend, the name of a pet, and reproduce a previously drawn illustration.

Card Memory: A rapid memorization of a shuffled deck of cards.

Techniques Taught:

Includes dozens of technical and psychological tips, theories and advice about prop management, pocket management, staging, checkpoints, prop construction, mnemonics, establishing actions, taking advantage of coincidence, prop selections, miscalls, billet preparation, covering of errors, precautionary measures, giving clear instructions, deck stacks, making mentalism credible, and much more.
Also includes discussions on how and why the show is structured, getting the whole audience involved, presentational ideas, patter and more. All items are easy to execute and are within anyone's reach. After watching this program you will want to be a Psychic Entertainer.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: An incredibly fun 90-minute DVD in which Bob performs a 30 minute show and then spends the next 60ish minutes explaining it all.

MY THOUGHTS: Okay, the first effect, Chronologue, is a classic in mentalism. It's a tried & true effect that is ultra-easy in terms of difficulty. You can do this surrounded, it plays great for stage and I've even used it for strolling. You have multiple outcomes, so you really can do it strolling. The only 'knock' against using it for strolling is the fact that the verbal 'set-up' takes a bit of time. The verbal 'set up' involves some interesting coincidences between a deck of cards and our modern-day calendar and whenever I do this, audiences are always very interested, but then again, I primarily use it for stage. Nonetheless, this is an almost perfect mental effect and once you understand the principals involved, you can use names, locations, all kinds of things instead of a deck of cards.

The second routine, Name/Place, is just about as pure as you can get. It's my favorite kind of mentalism - telling a volunteer to think about something then you reveal it. To me, this is what mentalism is most about...thinking of virtually anything and revealing it. Though I do use cards and other objects in my mentalism, this kind of minimalist mentalism amazes me the most. For this routine, there's a bit of dexterity work involved. I would not call it 'sleight of hand' by any means...more simply a matter of choreography. It's nothing too technical but will require rehearsal so you do it without 'fumbling.'

Perhaps the biggest benefit of this rutine is the seamless switch Cassidy demonstrates, allowing users to simply ring in a dummy billet for the one that has information written on it. The move looks so casual and innocent PLUS it's dead-ass easy. The biggest challenge? Making sure you don't turn it into a 'move.'

The third routine involves Bob performing the Psychomatic Deck. He does not explain how to do it as it's an inexpensive dealer item but it is interesting seeing a professional mentalist use this. For my liking, this was the weakest part of the show, only because I feel Bob's other material was so mind blowing that this card effect was simply overshadowed.

The fourth effect is my favorite: Bob's take on the classic Fourth Dimensional Telepathy routine, popularized by Anneman, among others. To any armchair mentalists out there who don't feel that a simple three envelope test based in part on the one-ahead principle can fool modern audiences, I can firmly say you're dead wrong. I performed Fourth Dimensional Telepathy using Cassidy's handling for about 6 years as the cornerstone of my mentalism act. In many ways, it's almost the perfect routine: the choices are so wide open. There is NO forcing, no 'range' force, nothing restrictive. Really, the only reason a performer gives a person an idea of choice is to add texture and stability to the routine. (I believe if you told a person, "Think of anything in the world!" the person would stare blankly at you!)

The routine is a classic due to the freedoms you have as a performer. The biggest problem with so many similar routines is the fact that one item is forced - youve seen the amateurs do it: "Spectator one, think of any word in the English language...Spectator two, think of any person in the world...Spectator three, pick a card." None of that here. As Bob does it, the first spectator thinks of a childhood friend, the second thinks of a childhood pet and the third spectator thinks of a drawing of anything. It's bloody brilliant.

About the ONLY drawback to this routine is its length - as I performed it, the routine ran 12-14 minutes long and there is by necessity the writing down of the information along with the stuffing of the envelopes. Keeping the audience's attention during all of this prepatory work until the actual mindreading happens is the real challenge of the routine.

Nevertheless, it's powerful. I point to several instances when I was using this a lot when spectators would come up to me after a show asking about my 'gift.' I'm not kidding! Pretty awesome stuff for some bits of cardstock, pens and copin envelopes!!

The final routine is Cassidy's card memory demonstration. For this routine, you'll need nothing more than a deck of cards. When I watched this routine, I felt it was fairly impressive but had no real desire to put it in my act until I started doing memory workshops for school & corporate groups. Mnemonics (memorization through visualization) is certainly a valuable skill for anyone to learn (especially mentalists!) but using it in this kind of a performance can certainly be challenging - utilize memory techniques all the while maintaining performance - but the good thing is this demonstration uses NO mnemonics! It only took me a short while to memorize the deck stack Bob uses and it's not one of the usual suspects, as far as deck stacks.

Once I started using this routine, I was delighted at the response it generated!

MY RATING: This is an obvious 10 out of 10. This is one of the few DVD releases where, if one wanted, you could put EVERYTHING into your show and be pleased with the results. Too many DVD releases have 'filler' effects to pad out a 3-DVD release, but this baby is perhaps the single greatest value in mentalism DVD history.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since this week was about mentalism, I want to echo my buddy Paul's enthusiasm for his new book, Performing Mentalism for Kids. Without tooting my own horn, the two routines that I contributed to the book are great routines for real-world workers. Judging by the list of contributers, this book is going to be a benchmark for the field! I can't wait to tear into it!!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!



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