Routining A Mental Show

As I mentioned earlier, I used the standard — the original — Clip Line effect as the finale to my act. This was in my early days, before I developed original material. You may be interested in knowing the whole configuration of that show. If you're just getting started, it may help you plan your own show.

Earlier in this book I mention how much I respect THE TARBELL COURSE IN MAGIC. For instance, the third volume of that series has an outstanding opening chapter called "Routining a Magic Show." I think every performer who wants to do a stand-up act should study this essay. In it, Tarbell discusses the structure, drama, balance, pacing, and flow that make a successful audience-pleasing presentation. While Tarbell's examples of particular performers may be out-of-date, I believe his advice is as cogent today as when it was first published in the original 1927 TARBELL SYSTEM OF MAGIC correspondence course.

When I began my professional career 25 years ago, I used Tarbell's five-segment "vaudeville magic routine" example to conceive my first stand-up act. I discovered Tarbell's advice was right on the button. I still use the same five-part structure nowadays.

Then, my opener was the Mental Broadcast Slate, a standard dealer's item based on Hen Fetsch's Mental Epic. This was a strong initial effect because I could read three spectators' minds without them ever leaving their seats, or having them write anything down.

Incidentally, I modified the slate by gluing a thin sheet of plywood into the back frame, then painting it with blackboard paint. This not only made the prop look more innocent, but allowed me to use the back for my second effect, Ted Annemann's Extra-Sensory Perception, using 32 five-inch by five-inch symbol cards. You'll find it in several sources: the original Jinx magazine, the JINX PROGRAM NUMBER 2: A MENTAL CLUB ACT booklet, and in the classic PRACTICAL MENTAL EFFECTS. I used the back of the slate to place the cards on, for the spectators' actions of lifting off the cards. (Since the gimmicked slate locked, it was ideal for adding the aura of fairness.) Then, completing the effect, I would draw the selected designs on the back of the slate. By the way, I didn't use a prompter — I memorized the order of the designs. I still have that set of cards I painstakingly made!

The third item was an effect with jumbo cards, where I divined all the cards in a packet "randomly" cut off by a spectator. I perform a vastly updated presentation of this in my current show, using my Breakthrough Card System. In those days, I used the Eight Kings setup, but called the cards off in random order so there was no discernible pattern to the stack. The way I did this was direct: I had a Dunninger-style threefold screen type of affair with a pad. (Now, of course, I use my Thought Scan.) After showing the pad with no writing on it, I used it to jot down notes. In reality, after determining the number of cards the spectator had, and the starting point of the part of the stack he or she held, I listed all the cards on the pad, then could call them out in any order. To cover this, I explained that writing down my thoughts allowed me to concentrate.

This also introduced the props I'd be using in the next sequence — I always try to use props like the blackboard and pad in multiple effects. Here I passed out two-inch by two-inch pieces of paper, had the audience write down their thoughts, and fold the slips. Then I passed out envelopes for the collection of the slips.

As I collected the stuffed envelopes, I stole slips from them, putting the slips in my pocket, just like Dunninger was doing in the 1920s, and Kreskin still does today. By the way, I had double-sided Scotch Tape® on the edges of the uppermost paper in the folder. These were hidden by the flaps of the screen. Later, I would get the stolen slips into the pad, open them, then stick them to the tape as I began my mind reading demonstration. A few minutes later, I had about eight slips open, stuck to the tape, right in front of me! There was no danger of the billets falling out, even if I held the pad upright. The flaps hid the slips from all angles.

Finally, I put the pad away, took out the prediction envelope and scissors, and did Clip Line for my closer, presented with some of the touches from my Clip Line Deluxe I've just described. By then, I had all my props back in my case, set to get off the stage immediately as Clip Line was over.

The Art Of Cold Reading

The Art Of Cold Reading

Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.

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