Sunday, February 2, 2014

Trick Review: MIB by Scott Alexander & Puck

Hello all,

I apologize for the delay in getting this review done, but between vacation, hypnosis clients, performing, and a bad case of the flu, I've been pretty busy.

As promised, I'm tackling MIB by Scott Alexander & Puck. It's a take-off on the classic Confabulation plot. It's available directly from both creators as well as

EFFECT: The performer gives an audience member a sealed glass bottle to hold. A rolled up paper can be clearly seen inside. Then, the performer asks the audience for suggestions for a plot of some type - a "dream vacation" is very popular. Questions pertaining to location, guests, activities and other details are solicited. The performer can be seen jotting down the answers on a whiteboard.

After enough questions are answered, the bottle in placed into an empty paper bag and broken with a hammer by the performer. Using a pair of tongs, to avoid touching the broken glass, the rolled paper is pulled out of the bag. The spectator holds one end of the paper as the performer unrolls it to close to 11 feet across the stage. The answers given are clearly seen woven through the story told on the rolled paper.

WHAT YOU GET: You receive the high-tech whiteboard, a supply of rolled paper, batteries, paper bags, tongs, a training DVD and a few other goodies.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a true revelation and THE most significant advance in the Confabulation plot since the classic prediction chest, with one of the most popular versions being the Malloy Chest. The downside of the Malloy chest, despite the prediction being written large enough to be clearly seen by big audiences, was that you needed an offstage assistant.

Other handlings of this plot were designed for one man applications, but the tradeoff was the fact that the writing was small, only visible for the one spectator who was viewing it onstage with the performer.

MIB is both one-man and written in large letters so the entire audience can read the prediction. Additionally, the predicted answers are all woven through the narrative. This is significant because most one man versions had all of the predicted answers bunched up in one corner of the prediction paper. By having the answers spread out through the body of the prediction, everything appears both organic and natural as well as more mystifying.

That alone would be enough to warrant a 'hit' with MIB, but other features really make this a winner. First, the angles are very forgiving and as long as no one is directly behind you you'll be safe. Secondly, despite this being an electronic prop, it is very quiet in operation. While it is recommended that you play music during the 'selection' phases to cover the noise, the volume of music required is not very high. Case in point: I recently performed this effect for a small group of 8 people who were VERY close. MIB is not really recommended for groups that small, but due to a miscommunication between  myself and the client, I was kind of stuck, but everything worked out just fine.

The investment price is around half of that of the Malloy prediction chest so I cannot imagine why anyone would not invest in this if they have the budget to consider the Malloy version.

INSTRUCTION: Puck & Scott Alexander have reputations for delivering quality material and explaining things very clearly and MIB is no exception. After viewing the 60 minute DVD, I was ready to go. After a couple of weeks of rehearsal I felt very confident incorporating this into my act and have never looked back.

ELECTRONICS NOTE: I recently found out that the electronics are built by Nick Wenger, who has a stellar reputation for putting out quality material. I own a bunch of other props by Nick and everything he builds is top notch.

FINAL RATING: This is an easy 10 out of 10 by me. I've been chasing the perfect one man stage Confab routine in which the whole audience can see the written prediction very clearly and this succeeds in all levels. My search is over and I can't recommend this any higher.

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