Let me begin with an apology. I called Brittany - Cassandra! That was foolish and it was a mistake. A person on one of the forums attacked me for doing the same thing on a later video. His take was that any person who could the things I do should never forget a person's name as it blows the whole image!
If I can offer the tiniest of excuses, the order of the effects on Mind Mysteries Volume 2 is not what I would normally do in a show. As mentioned in the first guide book, we wanted to keep all the Breakthrough Card System effects on one video to make it self-contained. I was paying a lot of attention to the flow of effects and slipped a bit with my memory. Since it happened, however, perhaps I can offer a small redeeming thought that may help you to forgive me a bit and give some advice at the same time.
Because the character I play is one of an everyday person who somehow can just do these things, I leave myself room for a certain number of slipups. I am normal and normal people are not perfect. After the mistake, by turning to the audience and saying, "I'm a mentalist!" I get a nice laugh and we just move on. It shows I am human and am willing to laugh at myself. This is an advantage of using a normal guy image. Audiences are more forgiving. If Max Maven did that (and, of course, he wouldn't but, if he did...), it would be a little more difficult to recover. The know-it-all attitude of his character (that's what the word "maven" means) would make the mistake more serious. This might be something to consider when choosing your performing persona. Back to the videos...
When I get Brittany up next to me, I give the speech about designing something that would meet test conditions. That is the reason I give for doing this effect and I turn it into a little joke by saying, "What I mean by that is so none of you will go back home and say 'Maybe the guy did this - maybe he did that...'" If you think about it, there are only two ways you can take that above line. Either I am claiming to have real ESP and am offering to prove it conclusively, or I am claiming that no matter how hard they try, they will not figure this out! Either way is OK with me and even the ambiguity of the statement works to my favor. It's somehow a funny line and if you look close, it brings a smile to everyone's face. I immediately follow that up by saying to Brittany, "But I need you to follow my instructions to the letter. Do you agree with that?"Then I wait for her to shake her head, "Yes." It has been my experience that most people in the audience and those who you get up on stage are honorable. If they agree to help and do what you ask, 99% of the time they will. Usually this is just implied, but in this routine, I come right out and ask for it. In addition to making sure this routine will go smoothly, it also helps with the control factor for the rest of the show. I talked about this in length in the first guide book. Basically, this type of patter gets the audience used to following my instructions - to the letter!
Notice how I reposition Brittany when I get the thought that since there is a camera behind her, she had better move so nothing will see what she's doing. This is just another form of the cancellation principle. It implies that I want to cancel out every possible way the audience might think I could cheat!
I ask her to think of a card and, as I am asking this, I am shuffling the cards. Let me dwell on this for a second. The fact that the cards are mixed and shuffled is constantly implied as I work. Asking Brittany to think of a card, not the Ace, keeps her mind occupied while I casually shuffle the deck. It goes by without anyone even questioning that they are being mixed. It seems secondary and no one pays it any attention. This is verbal and mental misdirection at work. A person cannot occupy their mind on an important thought and still be trying to carefully analyze everything you are doing. Having John cut the cards after the shuffle is just what card players always do and expect to guarantee the cards are mixed. Magicians might look at that and think, "It's just a cut,"but card players look at that and think, "OK, he can't cheat!" Always think like a lay person!
I go into the routine and all the performing details are described on the video. Notice how I make sure I tell her to stop when she sees her card and not close up the fan. If you don't, they will.
Now I want to talk about a part of this routine that has tremendous overlap in general magical thinking and needs to be addressed. I am constantly reading on the magic forums how this or that needs to be more logical. "It is not logical to rip up the paper!" "It is not logical to have something written down!" "It is not logical to use a book to read someone's mind!" I respectfully say, "Hogwash!" Look at the blatant illogic in this routine that goes unnoticed! First, I talk about all this test condition stuff and base the whole effect (and its secret) on a very involved procedure in order to keep the back of the card out of sight. Then, and pay attention to this, I ask her to slide it off the face of the deck and bury it in the middle of the deck! Think about it. Doing that allows the back of the selection to be seen which completely negates all the reasoning for what went before! On top of everything else, this comes right after the long explanation of why I do not want the back of the card to be seen! And yet, not a single person questioned it. It just flies right by without a word being said. And it always flies right by. Then, to add insult to injury, I actually challenge the audience's reasoning by saying, "Fair?" They not only agree, but you can hear someone say, "Very fair!"
Such is logic in magic!
For years I have been saying that if you keep some distance between you and the spectator, they will lower their guard. It's as though they don't think you can see from more than a few feet away! Here, Brittany does just what I have written that spectators do all the time. She flashes the bottom card of the deck to me! As soon as I see it, I make the most out of it by handing the card box to her and letting her put the cards away herself. This is the kind of dynamic that jumps your magic ten notches above the norm. With the factor that you didn't touch the cards or see a single one, this routine now really becomes totally impossible! The line, "Is that fair? Man, I wish I could do this one!" is just my little way of driving home what I just said about the impossibility of the effect while getting a nice laugh at the same time.
I now add a line that is very important and might be overlooked if I don't point it out. When I say, "No one knows the card except you. So you could lie and blow everything," that is a very cutesy and funny way of telling her, do not lie! The situation really is such that she could mess you up big time by just not telling the truth, either permanently or long enough to ruin the punch of the effect. This routine depends on her not doing that. This line makes it work!
When I ask her if it would impress her if I took the deck, found the card and handed it to her, she says, "Yes," I want her and the audience to believe, just for a second, that's what I will do. Then when I say, "Let's not use the cards. Just think of your card," the audience hardly has time to react to the impossibility of that when I say, " Two of Hearts!" The climax comes out of the blue! You can almost tell that even if Brittany had intended to mess things up, her own surprise is uncontrollable! I put on my Jack Benny face at that point as though I'm think ing, "Of course I can do this. I do it all the time!"
Look at the expression on Janelle's face at that moment. I can't believe some people say that the L&L audience is staged! The finest actress in the world couldn't come up with that expression! And look at how, at the last minute, Brittany actually turns around to check that there is no camera or someone behind her! It is priceless!
Finally, I give the deck to her to take back to her seat. Any thoughts of a special "magic trick" deck of cards are evaporated!
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