During the 14th to 16th September 2004 Derren kindly gave up a lot of his time to answer questions from the members of The Magic Cafe . Here are his answers in transcript form. Some of his answers are very interesting and provide an insight into his unique thinking on the broad subject of magic.
Many thanks for the invitation, and to my delightful and utterly charming friend Stephen Long for suggesting and arranging it.
Be gentle with me,
Firstly let me say how much I loved the seance both live and on stage, that inspired to me start to learn magic. It seems very much in the tradition of Houdini, Randi, P&T etc. Will using your techniques to debunk flim flamry be developed or was the seance a one off in that regard?
I feel that out-and-out debunking is a witless stand and a losing battle.
When you tell someone something as a fact, he will hear it, interpret it, apply it to his own thoughts and beliefs, and necessarily move AWAY from it a little. The more you insist on it as fact, the more potential scepticism you provoke. It’s utterly natural. It’s much more effective, I think, to use presumption and leave clues. That way, when people do their interpretative work, they move TOWARDS where you want them to.
So, the ending of the Seance, to me, was a more effective debunking tool than a dull ‘exposure’ of charlatanism. I didn’t disprove anything, and neither did I attack spiritualists. The most I said was that ‘personally I found it quite ugly’, and then explained that the show was to see whether techniques used by Victorian charlatans would work on a modern, sceptical audience. That was all. I was careful not to make the show an attack. Interestingly (as you may know, it’s now the most complained about show in UK TV history), it was anticipated as an attack, seen as one by many, and taken by others as ‘proof’ that spritualism is nonsense. Of course it was none of those things.
So I think that a subtle touch is all that is needed. A scepticism of the new-age agenda and religion of course underpins much of what I do, but I don’t intend to make that an explicit agenda. Besides, I don’t consider my sceptical beliefs to be any more real than the daft excesses of modern new-ageism. It’s all nonsense. I’ve thought a lot about this issue, and I think the most that can be said on the subject is that if you believe something which sounds stupid to the outside world, it’s best to shut up about it. Great question, thank you,
Whats up with the Ghetto Hoody?
And gangsta signs you’re throwing up there??
It’s a make-up job from the new series. I had to wear the hood so I could get from the make-up room to the set without being stared at too much. I don’t really look like that.
Can’t think of a subject header…
Just wanted to say that though I’m not a magician or mentalist or anything like that, I nonetheless purchased both of your books and had a delightful read. I have recently finished by Bachelor degree in Philosophy and really enjoy esthetics and Art theory and do believe that magic as you define it can be art; I essentially believe that art is a state of mind.
Anyway, nice to see that a few intelligent people still exist in show business!
P.S. Are there any plans for CH4 to repeat your 1st TV series? I missed that one…
Thanks very much – very kind. I’m sure they’ll repeat it: they seem to repeat everything. E4 are quite good at showing it over and over again.
I was just wonderin what religious things you belief in and what religion are you?
I’ve writtena bit about beliefs in the ‘debunking’ thread.
Yes, used to be a very happy-clappy Christian. Then came to realise that it seemed to work like any beleif system, and that everything I found frustrating about new-age believers (and woolly, circular-beliefs which were desperately defended because they were ultimately not about belief but about identity)I could apply to myself.
So I felt I needed a more rigorous defence of it that the emotive truisms I was given from churches, and started reading around how the Bible was put together and so on. I felt more comfortable not having the pat answers and ultimately circular arguments I had had before, and thought that from a new uncertainty I might build a respectable belief. But that part never happened: it all just started to look silly.
However, do refer to my answer in the debunking thread.
Wasn’t aware of any blasphemy before the RR. I did say f*ck though. Thought it was quite nicely placed…
As you are at the forefront of the art, it is inevitable that you are going to become the object of imitators. As flattering as this is how do you feel about this?
I shall pose this in two parts.
Firstly, when someone performs an effect that you do in a sub-standard fashion, thereby tipping the method, do you feel that weakens or strengthens your own position as a performer in the public eye?
Secondly, how do you feel about beginners using your style as a starting block for their own careers before evolving their own?
On a final note. Honestly, how annoyed do you really get when people just ask you how you do a certain effect, and if the bullet was real?
I’ve enjoyed your posts here and elsewhere when I’ve looked at sites.
It’s a tricky question to answer. I think it’s just inevitable, as you say, and it’s pointless having strong opinions on it. I just try and come up with effects that most magicians won’t be able to work out (!). I haven’t seen anyone do an effect of mine, let alone badly, so I don’t know how to answer the first part. I’ve heard of the odd person (you know who you are) pretty much doing my entire act after seeing the stage show (the first half is roughly my cabaret show), and that was galling. Especially as I knew the guy.
As for beginners using my style to start off, I guess that makes sense. We’ve all done it in one way or another. I don’t think I’ve coined any particularly original approach to mentalism, although I do try and really commit to it. But there are a hundred possible ways of approaching it, and most of them far away from the ‘psychic vs. psychological’ agenda. I know of very few people who do think outside of that box. But it makes sense to copy someone else’s style at first, and ridiculous and hypocritical to argue that it shouldn’t happen. (I just don’t want to see it.)
Equally, I hear about younger performers being accused of aping my style, and it turns out to be nonsense. I saw Luke Jermay give a show a while back, and after hearing and reading bits here and there, I expected a sort of copy. Couldn’t have been further from the truth: he was delightful, original, and far more self-effacing than I could ever hope to be.
So I don’t worry about that any more.
I don’t get annoyed if people ask me how to do a certain effect. I can answer extremely coherently, fully, and honestly, without saying anything. No-one really asks about the bullet, though for a while the phrase ‘blanks would still kill you’ was permanently poised on the tip of my tongue.
At your live show in Cardiff a few months ago one of the spectators invited onto the stage called you “Darren”, and another referred to Figaro as a “budgie”. Which did you find the most distressing?
The ‘Darren’ thing makes me laugh when it happens during the ‘vox pop’ interviews we film for the show. I don’t mind it, I’ve always had it. The ‘budgie’ mistake happened a lot, and allowed me a cheeky gag in retort. Something about a cockatoo.
When, if ever, will you perform in the United States?
Many people in the Magic Cafe have expressed a desire to see you perform, although I expect you’d rather have an audience that includes more than just magicians.
Or perhaps you’d prefer an audience that doesn’t include any magicians at all given the sad prevalence of copying?
Never been bothered about magicians in the audience at a live show, although I’ve been to magic shows before where magicians are sat in the front row literally noting down all the gags in a notebook. That makes me sad.
There are talks underway about making a US special, but the production values are high, so it’s an expensive show to make. But it will happen, and hopefully over the next 2/3 years.
Thanks for the interest.
I’ve two questions if that’s ok:
1) It’s been well documented that at some point in the future you plan on taking your Mindcontrol act to America and I understand the original series have already been shown over there. When this does eventually happen, would you expect to release the US material to the UK either in the form of a new C4 series or another DVD, or will we Brits have to make American friends?
2) In your most recent live tour, it seems you’ve started making use of a blindfold during Reminiscence – overall, one of my favourite mentalism effects. I don’t want to stray into the territory of exposure, but was this move to support the method of the effect, or for other reasons, for example to ensure ‘true ideomotor resposes’, etc?
1) no idea as of yet. It’s all up in the air. I suspect it would get shown here.
2) Erm… haven’t used Reminiscence at all in the live show. Tried it a bit a few years ago in Bristol and dropped it. The only blindfold part now is the transfer of a thought-of number between two volunteers, which is a different effect and a very different method.
Hope that’s OK,
Derren, is magic still “cool”
Do you think because of what yourself and perhaps blaine have acheived in bringing magic into the 21st century and bringing flair and individuality to the art that you you may have in fact made more people dismiss the more traditional magicians, per say the ordanarry people doing the circuit or even maybe people like Copperfield etc who perform the larger scale illusions?
I don’t think it’s down to me at all, I think it’s entirely due to Blaine. And I think his early specials provoked a huge interest in magic again, especially amongst TV companies, and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be doing mine.
Bad performers will always be bad, and good will always be good, regardless of what’s in or out of fashion. All that happens is that a lot of copyists appear: so after Blaine came a lot of grungy close-up magicians with a ‘street’ appeal doing card tricks. But equally, some of them will be good, others bad. The bad will be dismissed after a while. I don’t think much changes, other than periods of more acute interest.
Are ‘psychological’ magicians the new psychics
Love your interesting, thought-provoking work, and I thought your recent seance made excellent telly.
As a bit of a Uri Geller fan (sorry) I wanted to ask:
1)if you think that there is really such a difference between his psychic line and the psychological mantle that you assume? I mean, given that psychology is such a floaty discipline and so little of it is based in solid research trials, where is the difference?
2)if you think it matters? – magicians seem to be a bit obsessed with the whole skeptic thing, but do you feel a magician can create a coherent vision without lying about something? and do you think that the likes of Uri are really being unfair on their audience?
Great question. I did start off with a hard ‘psychology’ line, but I didn’t want to give myself an ulcer. For me, the challenge and interesting part of it all is to be as honest as possible whilst retaining the strength of the performance. It’s not about proving I have this or that ability. So I say that it’s a ‘mixture of magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship’, and that’s true.
If I have people asking me where they can join a course to learn NLP or some technique, I’ll give them what advice I have, which is both where the better courses are, but also why it has to be taken with a huge pinch of salt. I also reiterate, in case they’ve missed it, that much of what I do isn’t what it looks like. I’ll be as honest as I can without getting into individual methods, as I prefer to keep those to myself.
However, I’d much rather someone took it too seriously and decided to take a psychology course, than someone took a fraudulent psychic seriously and decided to make life-decisions based on that false information, or become a psychic themselves. For me, there is a real difference there.
It’s up to any performer what line they take, as long as they take responsibility for their claims. For me, it’s more interesting and defensible to be as honest as possible about it in general, though at the same time I have to be ambiguous about specifics.
Hope that answers the question. I guess I should keep my thoughts on Uri to myself.
Hi Mr Brown! I read you article about card effects in Magic october 2003,and I realize that you don’t include many card tricks in your repetoire. But out of intrest,if someone gave you a deck and asked for a card trick,what effect would you do?
I have a few card effects I still perform, which are on the Devil’s Picturebook tape, or which have grown out of effects there. Generally ‘mental’ in nature. No more picking cards out of my flies for me.
Probably pointless giving names of effects, as if you don’t have the tape, you won’t know what I mean. They wouldn’t be known card tricks with popular titles.
I’m amazed at how rusty I am at the tricks I used to perform. Shows how important it is to keep at it…
A few question
Hello there. I have a few questions that I hope you could answer, some about performance, others trivial.
1 After a year of messing around with mentalist (and finally finding my own style) I am looking to develop my act a little, with the help of University open mike nights. I was wondering if you could share any advice you have on developing an act, including things such as getting yourself booked?
2 How would you suggest dealing with hecklers? So far my best approach seems to be hoping my politeness and manners wins them over.
3 Have you ever considered releasing any of the effects you currently use on stage or television. If not why?
4 Suppose you had never gotten into magic or mentalist. What do you think you would be doing with your life.
5 Do you intend to perform until you retire, or do you have a career change planned?
Some more trivial questions:
6 What breed are your parrots?
7 Do you like Jazz?
8 What’s your favourite film?
9 Favourite book?
10 Best place to buy classical Cds in Bristol.
Thanks for your time.
Aargh… no time to answer all of these very fully, I’m so sorry. Especially number 1.
2 – I agree, seems best. Can’t say without seeing your act or knowing the sorrts of venues you perform in.
3 – No, no plans to release them. Not sure why you’d think I would!
4 – Painting, perhaps.
5 – No changes planned. I’ll do this as long as I enjoy it, I guess.
6 – Conures
7 – Nope. Well, trad jazz perhaps, mainly from being a Woody Allen fan.
8 – Wings Of Desire (Wim Wenders)
9 – Don’t know. Maybe Boswell’s London Diaries.
10 – Was Bristol Classical Discs on Broad St. Now there’s nowhere.
Thank you too.
The Figaro Transfer, The Spasm ?
Ken here, one of the two Irish magicians you met after one of your shows in the palace theatre. Greatly enjoyed the night, great show, nice to meet you as well.
In an attempt to keep this forum clutter free I’ll post a couple questions in the one thread.
1. Seeing as you named a sleight after your parrott, were you at any stage tempted to name one after your cat? How could you resist?
2. What are your musical interests? I imagine you would be more inclined to Beethoven than The Beastie Boys, where do your main interests lie?
3. Looking back at the stop of your recent tour in Belfast compared with the English venues, how did you feel it was received and were you encouraged to cross the waters again?
1 – Well, Spasm the cat is stuffed whereas the parrot is real, so I guess he got priority.
2 – Big Bach fan.
3 – Belfast was a wonderful last night. Next year we’re planning on playing Dublin too, as we didn’t manage to secure it last time. Apologies to any Dubliners. Don’t know if it was substantially different, as one tends to feel more exhilerated anyway on the final night of a tour.
Thanks, and it was delightful to meet you both.
Any tips to help along performances? Always ready to learn from a master!
Script everything carefully and thoughtfully, then learn the script. Never make it up as you go along. You must deliver it well and naturally, and can ad lib a bit from the script or discover new moments where they occur, but it means that if you’re ill or not on form one night, you’ll still get everything right and give a great show.
That’s what I think, anyway.
Which way now?
Hi Derren! firstly, congratulations on your phenomenal success! Well done that man!
Since the airing of the Mind Control Series a few years ago you have significantly and consistently raised the performance bar and added a much needed breath of fresh air back into magic with performances that focus heavily on the spectator creating the magic for themselves but one where the spectator doesn’t feel patronised. You have also inspired and rekindled an incalculable number of peoples’ passion for magic as evidenced by the 1000s of posts relating to you and your work on this site alone.
For some of the effects you have performed and the underlying ideas I find it difficult to see how you could better them and that you have stretched the use of them to the absolute max. Obviously, you are working in a very pressurised environment where everyone is expecting you to keep raising the bar and creating more and more magical experiences. Because of this and the fact that you are still a youngster I was wondering where you see your career heading…whether you see yourself continuing to perform within the realms of psychological illusion or will choose to walk in a totally different direction whether performance related or not?
All the best.
Justin – thanks for the nice words. That’s very flattering, though not necessarily true…
If I start to feel that there’s no life left in this, then obviously I’ll shift direction, or continent. But for the moment, there’s a lot I’d like to explore, and in many ways it gets easier to think up new ideas, as I have a clearer sense of what I want to do now than before. I vastly prefer the live shows, so I think I’ll keep touring for a long time, even if I cut right down on the TV shows or leave them altogether (by choice or otherwise. Probably otherwise.)
Thanks for the ‘youngster’ bit. Don’t feel it much at the moment.
Derren, a push in the right direction…
I’ve just recently seen your shows air’d on television, since we are really delayed in that department. But, after the first show of yours that I have seen, I knew there and then that I want to become a magician/mentalist. What I want to ask you is how did you become who you are today? Is it through research and if so where did you research. The reason I ask this question is, I need a push in the right direction. I’m from South Africa and the magic industry is not as bustling as it is overseas. Many people in this forum, suggest joining a magic club….well, there is no magic club where I’m from. I don’t earn dollars so I cant really purchase books over the internet. My local library sucks. So what else can I do?
Keep up the good work
I didn’t go down the magic club route. I think they have their advantages and disadvantages. I took a roundabout route through hypnotism and conjuring, and can only recommend reading whatever you can get your hands on and to have fun coming up with things. You have the advantage, if there’s not much of a scene in South Africa, of being unfettered by a received style or other people’s thoughts on what you should do. Two of the card greats – Guy Hollingworth and Lennart Green – and I’m sure many others – came up with their ideas in relative isolation, and the results really show. So take whatever passion you have and let it take root in whatever’s available. Borrow what you can, watch and read what you can, find who you can, and just keep at it. It’ll kick in, or you’ll get bored of it and do something else. No rush.
Best of luck – sorry I can’t be of much use.
Questions concerning nerves and other performers
Q1)When faced with a large audience do you ever find yourself struck down with nerves. If so what do you do to overcome them?
Q2)Whom are your favourite other magical performers, and why?
1)No, never really had that problem. In fact I have to struggle to find nerves sometimes: they are very useful. I don’t like it when I’m trying new material that’s unworked though. That makes me uneasy beforehand.
2)Canasta, Berglas and Teller spring immediately to mind. They have a real understanding of the theatre of their magic, and ultimately that’s what it comes down to.
Hope that answers those ok. Cheers.
Saw your show in Nottingham, my mate and I thought you put on a fantastic performance. Bravo!
The question I would like to put to you is this. Now, that you are infamous – do you still hang around with the crew or do you swan around in a diva like fashion making impossible demands?
Big fan and long time stalker
Lee – thanks for coming. Very good of you.
I work with the most delightful crew, so I get to hang around with them. But yes, there’s a terrible danger of turning into a wanker, if I’m not there already. Horrid.
Any plans on a new book?
Hi, I’m a magician, not a mentalist, but nevertheless I found your books interesting and very helpful to my presentation etc, especially Absolute Magic.
Just wondering if there are any plans to release a new book or any otehr new material?
Oh, and that 9-inch nail was never a 9-inch nail, come on! (How big was it really?)
Never said it was a nine-inch nail. Didn’t say anything, from what I remember.
Pleased you liked the book. No, no plans to release any more books or videos for magicians. In fact when I do, it’ll be a subtle sign that my career over here is flagging a bit.
I’m gagging to release a huge tome, as it were, and I’m sure one day I will. But not for a long time I think. I am considering writing a book for the general public, which has been on my mind for a while. Occasionally I read on the net that I have such a book planned, and that it’s a ‘self-help style book of standard psychological techniques you can use at home’. Sounds terrible. I hope if I do write one, it will be something more interesting, and something I can be proud of.
Andy’s personality re: yours
Humour. Andy Nyman. etc
You don’t really ‘joke’ on your shows. How hard has it been NOT to want to have more ‘fun’? I am sure that during shooting you have a blast with all involved. However, I can then imagine you having to pull yourself together again to be ‘DB the TV guy’.
How did you feel about humour before your TV series, and how has the TV series changed the way you perform – do you see live performance now a place where you can have more fun?
There is SOME humour in what you do like in the spec as mindreader street stuff. This is lighter entertainment that some of the material you offer. It’s obvious you are now diversifying slightly in your tv persona…. yes, slightly, but creeping somewhere else… where there’s more room for maneuver perhaps?
Anyway. Humour. Etc
Such is the problem with having got here early LOL
Good point. It took us a while to convince C4 that there could be any humour in the show at all. Part of the problem is that the show is pretty fast-moving, and just telling the story is hard enough to fit in. Some great gags (and some dreadful ones) have been lost.
It is getting looser and more wry in places, I like to think. And yes, the rehearsal/creative process consists mainly of weeping with laughter. Certainly the live show allows for a lot more fun than the TV, which is partly why I enjoy it so much.
I like the balance now. Think it is less ponderous and solemn.
Thanks for all the wonderful ideas and magic you’ve offered to the magic community. I can tell it’s because of the loyalty and fondness you have for the average magician, especially coin workers and strolling guys in bright suspenders.
Anyway, I think many of the effects in Devil’s Picturebook are absolutely brilliant. Invisible Deal is one of my favorites… sorry, favoUrites.
I seem to be consistently off on suit — i.e. I get the color right, and miss the suit, then get the odd/even part right, and the number. Any further tips that aren’t on the video? I have analyzed and analyzed my patter and my observational skills, and can’t find the cause.
Any general tips on that effect would be welcome as well. I do love performing it, and of course it gets tremendous reactions when I get it right (it gets pretty good reactions even when the suit is wrong.)
You can spell out to them that they have to visualise everything perfectly, and show them each time where to deal the piles, making sure they hear the instruction that tells them which one to start with. It’s just being bold with the emphasis, probably.
Tips – pretend to be using a deck yourself, and mime choosing and dealing your own. That way you can look right at them, but apparently you’re just looking at your own (invisible) cards. Takes the weight off you watching them. You can shift the effect so you both apparently choose the same card from your decks. If that makes sense. Name your card and ask what he had. Obviously you say the one you know he has chosen.
Don’t have them deal R and B at the start. Takes too long. Just give them an imaginary R pile, and an imaginary B pile. Have them choose either. Cuts out one round of dealing.
Always predict the card first, and try and nudge them that way with your gestures as you ask them to make their choices. If you know they’ve gone with other cards, reach over and change the prediction. It doesn’t matter.
Hope that helps. Struggling to keep up with the questions now!
Would like to know who inspired you all those many years ago you started out, and who (even now) do you learn from?
Seeing a hypnotist called Martin Taylor started it all off. Now my influences are Canasta, Teller and unavoidably the delightful Andy Nyman, with whom I work pretty much every day.
Hope that’s Ok,
I’d like to know your views on stage hypnosis (I know you started as a stage hypnotist), and the hypnotic state (if such a state exist).
And keep on the good work, you’ve created a new art form …
That’s a massive topic, and I am struggling now to answer what I can.
I don’t think hypnosis is a special state. There’s nothing that can be done ‘in it’ that can’t be achieved out of it. I think it’s a shorthand term for a mewrging of a lot of psychological techniques like suggestion, charisma, response expectancy, hype etc.
It’s easy for stage hypnotists to argue that this makes it entirely safe, and that any criticisms are nonsense. However, this doesn’t take in to account that some are slapdash and irresponsible performers, and that if subjects are left confused and resentful, or made to have a horrific time, then you’re asking for trouble – real or imaginary.
I use a lot of the techniques within that spectrum for my routines, as I find it such a rich and interesting area. But it can be a seedy business.
I am a young magician, and aside from the common aspects of magic which I love, I have a particualr fondness for mentalism and I will probably perform souly this in later life. Now I have been told this on numerous occasions that ‘being young in mentalism just aint gonna work’. I hate it when people say this to me. As I enjoy performing mentalism and people enjoy watching me perform (without being too big headed). But also becasue you are not even given the chance to show that it can work you are automaticaly labeled. I realy dislike this.
So is there any hope for the young mindreading genius or do I have to wait untill I am older?
I realy loved your show which I caught in sheffield. I am the young and handsome whipper snapper who said ‘We will probably work together someday, as I am going to be a famous magician’ If you remember me I must apologise for my rather starstruck behaviour, and I am not nearly the bumbling nervous youngster I shamelessly portrayed myself as. Sorry.
If you don’t remember me, its ok, forget about it. But I will hold you to my statment.
Good question – an interesting issue. The answer, I think, lies in the fact that mentalists tend to think within a certain box. Somehow there is this idea that there is one dynamic – psychic vs. psychologist, and that there is little else to do than decide which side of the line you fall on. Few start up a brand new and original way of performing it – and I certainly don’t include myself in that number. So if you’re 15 (and if you are, that’s an effect right there, by the way), be a 15-year old with an ability. The reason why most youngsters don’t get it right is because the think they have to be sombre mini-grown-ups, and it’s silly. Ignore the role models. Be 15 and bring to what you do all that entails. Look at that Russian girl a while back who claimed to be able to see inside people and tell what was wrong with them. It’s not a choice for everyone, but it absolutely fitted her age. So if you’re geeky, be the weird geeky freak who can move stuff without touching it, or who has near-epileptic seizures when he can read thoughts of those near him. Don’t pretend to be sombre and super-cool and much older than you are if it’s not you. If you’re asking people to see you as imposing and ponderous if you’re not, of course it won’t work.
Of course that’s easier said than done: firstly because it’s hard to think that originally, and secondly because it seems to take away the appeal of the mentalist character. But that’s why good mentalism isn’t easy. But that’s only because people try in all the wrong places. Look at who you are, and play with what comes from that character. You can be 10, or 15, or 50, it shouldn’t make any difference.
And I think Luke does get it right, though he’s old enough not to have to worry much about it.
Good luck with it –
A bit harsh on trad mentalism?(Invisible Compromise)
“no matter how hard they watch the video over and over again there’s nothing for them to see” DB
Having read “Pure Effect” and wacthed you International Magic lecture (which I enjoyed immensley) I couldn’t help feeling that maybe you were a little harsh on traditional mentalism. isn’t the extent of Invisible Compromise in some way correlated to the skill of the performer and the knowledge of the spectator?
Having watched Marc Salem a few years ago without knowing any magic at the time , to me , then, his method was invisible. Now I’ve sudied “Corrindar,Banacheck and the like his methods are visiible to me but they they were stilll invisible to the rest of the audience. I beleive your show is far ahead of your competition and so many of your methods seem invisible. But isn’t this simply another way of saying “i’ve got the best tricks ” and no one (including other mentalists) knows how they are done? Having watched Reminsice several times I finally figured out the bulk of the method, did it become a visible compromise? Or is it all in the eye of the beholder?If a well known visiting US mentalists hides their swami well enough is he performing invisible compromise?
I have been harsh in the past, but only for reasons of rhetoric. ‘Invisible Compromise’ was about creating an ideal, not something that one should insist that every performance adhere to. Equally it has been misquoted and misunderstood, to the point that I can’t quite remember myself what I meant by it. But I stand by the idea of not compromising the effect – of keeping it simple and pure – a straight line – and eliminating clutter. Which goes back to Vernon, most famously. Don’t worry about it – it wasn’t about great methods, or not knowing how something is done; it was just about maintaining purity of effect by not letting the necessary ‘compromises’ interfere with the story of the routine.
It doesn’t matter – you have my permission to dismiss it as rubbish. I talk a lot of boll*cks sometimes.
A Class A Question
I debated putting this post in as I can see there are a mountain of questions to answer. However, your television show has piqued the interest of quite a few friends, relatives and colleages a few who went to your live show. I asked if any of them had any questions they would like to ask you. Most were stumped, apart from my wife who asks (honestly):
” Our baby is due next week, what shall we call it?”
Feel free to ignore this post – there are better things to attend to.
I suggest ‘Derren’. Has a lovely ring to it.
Thanks Derren – you’ve made my wife’s day by responding.
Pleasure… congratulations to the both of you. Hope he/she brings you lots and lots of joy. I understand the first six months are really easy.
Hi there, first of all, huge fan.
I just wanted to ask if you ever get, or have ever been disappointed with the reaction of someone who maybe didn’t appreciate a trick or illusion as much as you’d hoped, or are you happy with any reaction at all?
One particular reaction that springs to mind for me which I was disappointed with on your behalf was the primary school teacher’s (bear trick).
There I was, couldn’t have been more impressed, and I just felt that she could have been a bit more enthusiastic about it.
Sorry if I’ve worded that badly, I tried to say it in a way that didn’t make me sound like a numpty.
Yes, she was a little understated. Once the cameras were off and the kids were out of the way, she swore like a trooper. But it wasn’t natural for her to react strongly with the kids there. Should have thought of that.
I find it hard to keep a straight face when we’ve gone to a lot of trouble and the punter just isn’t impressed. There’s been the odd one who just stood there, experiencing nonplussed acceptance, bewilderment or vague disappointment. Makes me laugh, anyway.
I read somewhere that you’ve written essays about Kafka. I’ve always found your writing delightful and inspiring and I wondered if maybe there was a way to get a hold of these Kafka essays or anything else you may have written.
Very flattered, but it’s hardly extensive writing. Just essays and papers from university. Nothing you’d really want to read. Big fan, though. Sorry if this information got rather exaggerated…
Absolute Magic and Pure Effect
I recently purchased this book (I got the last one at Davenports) and have almost read it completly fron to back 4 times. There is a such a wealth of ideas in the book and feel genuinly honoured that you would release such advice to the magic fraternity. Now I realsie that it has been a while since you wrote the book, and would like to know if any of your views have changed over time?
Also I recently attempted to buy Pure Effect which to my horror I found out of print. Will the book ever be back on the market, or am I destined to spen the rest of eternity trawling through ebay or book bargain bins.
PE is being re-printed again, so hang on in there. AM is probably better though, so I hope you’re not disappointed.
I can’t remember all my views in AM, so I can’t honestly say how they’ve changed. (I don’t do close-up any more, so my thoughts are now elsewhere.) But yes, they probably have a bit, and doubtless for the better.
Oh yeah, I was on your site the other day and went on the forum…… @#$%:* ME!!!!!!!
How do you sleep at night knowing that people who follow you aroung, asking each other what you smell of, and reporting sightings in boots actually exist, and are out there looking for you?!?
…No, I didn’t really expect it. The only thing to do to keep well is to not read such things at length or think about it too much. I have had some genuinely worrying or even dangerous people turn up after stage shows, which is making signing difficult for the future. Hundreds of letters and emails from obvious schizophrenics, (including a few Jesus Christs, one of whom accused me of raping her.)
But hey, I get lots of free stuff.
Creating and building a routine
I thought I’d pick your brains or creating and building a routine.
What do you feel is the best way to go about building a routine? Where do you start and how do you tend to structure it?
Any thoughts/tips/pointers would be much appreciated as I am currently in the process of putting together a Parlour routine at the moment.
Other than that I would just like to ad my congratulations to the many others for ‘Absolute Magic’. I have recently recieved it and some of the ideas in there have prompted me to completley rethink how I present myself.
I think it’s honestly too much to go into – going back through the book will give you the best answers. I just think in terms of maintaining clarity, and I tend to think in threes for a sound structure (Tommy Wonder – or was it Tamariz? – has written a lot about this, if that sounds new to you.)
Sorry, very hard to give advice on such a (very important but) general question.
Hi, derren I’m just wondering about things to study at univercity, to get into hypnoses phycology, and things like nlp ect (what did you do)!
Be prepared from some sarcastic answers.
Would like to meet!
Hi there derren, when is the next time you are in Norfolk, I missed your show at the theate royal and was wondering if you will be returning! If you do would you like to come round for dinner? My dear lady wife(to be!) is an excellent cook , she does beans AND toast , sometimes at the same time! have a nice visit here at the magic Cafe.
God that sounds good. Going for a crumpet now, which is the nearest thing.
Trolling for your secrets
Whenever word of one of your pieces leaks onto the board, invariably a number of questions begin appearing along the lines of, “Is this trick in print, how does he do it, where can I buy it?”
Your work is clearly the most coveted of any performer in recent memory.
How then do you feel about magicians seeing your specials and then attempting to parrot the material you have developed? How do you feel about message boards such as this when speculation to your methods occur? (Usually the poster begins saying something to intimate they want to perform said piece, but when called on the questionable ethics always reverts to the safer, “It’s only for mere curiosity and intellectual growth” gamnbit.)
Do you feel magicians should respect each other’s work and honor their ideas by leaving them be, or do you care whether or not everyone has a go at trying to be you?
I’ve enjoyed your posts here in the past a lot. Nice to talk to you. The copyist issue I’ve answered elsewhere, if you can be bothered to look for it. That side of things is inevitable, and a perfectly sensible way of someone getting started.
Speculation as to methods is part of the game, I suppose, although the internet is very unforgiving. Someone – I believe it was your good self – likened it to magicians coming to a live show and then talking too loudly in the bar afterwards and spoiling it for the rest of the audience.
It’s annoying when I read “I know someone who works closely with DB’s team and he assures me that such-and-such was used.” It’s never true. But I’ve learnt to let it all go. I remember a magic convention where a top French magician had apparently stolen a rope routine of an American veteran and performed it during the close-up rounds. The American veteran was performing in the gala show, and started the act with that trick. He then said something to the effect of “You’ve all seen that trick already this weekend, I just thought you should see it done by the originator and not the man who stole it.” There was much outrage from both sides – juicy politics and an enormous scandal. But if you step back a bit, it was two old men arguing about lengths of rope.
So I keep methods secret because it’s an important part of the fun. But I’d go mad if I worried about it all.
Fans and Fora How do the questions on this forum compare to your own Official Derren Brown Forum (your fertile female fans!!)
How do you see your ‘angle’ on magic/mentalism/entertainment evolving over the coming years? How long do you think this type of psychological magic will remain popular? Do you see any new styles emerging?
Forgive me, I’ve covered these issues elsewhere now, and have to try and keep up. Nice picture, though. Notice there how I’m very tall.
Derren, you are one of the influences who drew me into card magic. I have such a passion for it, however my family and peers often laugh at me for practicing. I guess they still think of magic as being performed by uncharismatic men who often hold the audience with contempt who just perform ‘card tricks’.
It is, however, their laughing and mockery which spurs me on. I totally see why they have the attitude they possess and I want to change their viewpoint. I do not have the technical ability yet to perform to them as I feel showing them half-good, sub-rated effects would be humiliating on my part and would just reinforce their beliefs of magic. I have a few ideas about my performance and possible effects (I find most card effects leave me cold so I want to create myeffects) and I feel soon I will have a routine which is totally me.
So, after that long and pointless ramble, my question is this: Your direction in magic has shifted much over the past decade or so and it must seem as though an eternity has past since writing Pure Effect and Absolute Magic. In your books you come across as having very strong views on magic, but has you attitude changed since writing them and how do you presently rate card magic?
As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s been a while since I wrote those books, and I think whatever I wrote (which I sort of remember) still stands as my thoughts on close-up magic, but I haven’t done it for a long time. I don’t think my attitude has changed much, although everything else has. My strong opinions were more about rhetoric and challenging than anything else, if that doesn’t sound arrogant.
I still love a good card effect when I see one. Most leave me cold though, too.
I trust you’ll keep at it and see where it takes you. I wish you all the best.
At what point during the development stage of the last series did the inspiration hit you to hammer a nail into your nose?
Although beautifully presented, apart from the gratuitous snot shot at the end, what was your thinking behind this? Are we going to see a shift towards some more bizarrist style effects in the future?
‘Derren Brown performs Psychic Surgery’ special on the cards? So any plans for more bizarre style effects?
Spike through eye or, as is popular in our household, Cotton Bud in ear!
Actually that idea came from Andy. I was wary at first, but actually I really love it. My idea was to get someone to hammer it up their own nose without realising. Proved too dangerous.
I guess you didn’t think it sat well with the other material. Well, maybe, but maybe that’s a good thing. As with the nail, one must keep pushing…
As I say, I loved it. And the snot was a good touch, I thought. Went on ebay for a fortune.
Becoming world famous…
I first saw ‘Mind Control’ while I was living in Washington, DC. I really enjoyed it; it was entertaining and thoroughly intriguing, and the next day my friends were all avidly discussing ‘the British guy who could push another guy backwards round a market and read his mind.’!
I know that you are hoping to film a special in the USA, but are your shows broadcast in any other countries, and is there anywhere particular in the World that you would really like to tour?
Some countries in Europe get the series – I was stopped in the street by some Dutch guys the other day who were fans.
Keep getting asked to tour in Iceland. I enjoy comfort and stasis too much to relish travelling, so I don’t much like the idea of touring anywhere where I can’t get home every few days.
Curious as to your marketing strategy before you made you name though TV. Did you rely over the years on word of mouth or did you heavily advertise in magazines / radio etc
And now with TV deals and your stage show, how often do you still perform privately?
Entirely word-of-mouth. Had some brochures made, but never used them. Only advertised in the Yellow Pages. Made a good, professional living.
I still perform for corporate events and the odd private party, whenever the shooting schedule permits. At the moment that’s not very often – maybe one a month.
Roman Durge, Lenore. Taxidermy and other favorites
A few years back I sent off a copy of some flash cartoons of Roman Durge’s Lenore. I thought you’d get a nice kick out of something non-magic related, especially the taxidermy episode. I was wondering if you received it and/or remember it.
What are some of your favorite non-magic reads?
Don’t think I got those – apologies if I did and don’t remember. No bells are ringing.
Authors – Boswell; Robertson Davies. You should try the latter if you don’t know him.
Derren Brown Mentalism on Ebay
Search under Mentalism, and virtually every other item is listed as “Derren Brown style mentalism”.
Most of this stuff is old, and a lot is ‘borrowed’, and I wondered what your feelings were on your name being used to sell effects you’d perhaps rather not be associated with? Annoyance? Flattery? Wish you had a quid for every time …?
( and I will casually drop in a mention of a fine show this year in a fine city, Norwich, and for converting my wife, Liz, into a fan when she helped move the ouija glass. Thank you. )
The people selling their goods under my name is a little annoying when they falsely claim they correspond to my actual methods, but not as annoying as one guy who has taken chapters from Pure Effect, re-written and then repeatedly tried to resell them as his original pieces under the ‘Learn Derren Brown Mentalism’ banner. That’s a bizarre one.
I just pretend none of it’s happening, and let my PA deal with it and send nasty letters to the worst ones.
Meeting of the minds
Hope this was’nt already asked. Have you ever discussed
concepts with any of the other notable mentalists such as Osterlind,Banachek,Lesley etc?
No, not really. I’ve never known many mentalists. I had dinner with Berglas recently which was utterly, utterly delightful (I was honoured to be taken through his Roulette system). Obviously I spend a lot of time with Andy Nyman, as we’re often talking about material.
Cheers -getting tired now, hope these answers are ok…
Just a brief note to thank you for introducing the word ‘cloaca’ to the realm of magicians [Absolute Magic p7]. I have never seen the word in print in a magic text before, but have caught a whiff of it a few times around some performers. It’s such a lovely word and much under-used. It brought tears to my eyes and a warm glow to my heart to see it in print.
Thank you Richard. You seem a fine chap and I’m sure would be delightful to meet. Do say hello should our paths cross.
Golly Highworth and Stephen Long
Care to elaborate on your late night romp through London? (I was in stitches…I appreciate rude humour though, so I must be an idiot!)
Or Stephen Long and your friendship with him (is that correct)?
The Golly Highworth was a parody of Guy Hollingworth, as I hope was clear, and Stephen is delightful and a terrible giggler.
Developing analytical mind set
“I found myself developing an analytical mind-set, able to spot the loopholes in anyone’s argument very quickly”
– how can I develop this?
I said this came from studying Law, so you could always try that. Or just become irritatingly pedantic, which is another way of expressing it.
I wouldn’t get hung up on it, as I suspect it’s either innate or is learnt from working in a field which promotes detachment and constant questioning or searching for these sorts of lacunae, to use an annoying word. Perhaps if you try not believing anything anyone tells you for a while and just muse instead on how their opinion might fit into a bigger picture, it might work; but you might lose all your friends and family in the process.
How do handle these things? Here in the magic community you might be considered a god. When perfoming for people that might not know who you are, I’m sure you probably have to deal with things that we deal with all the time, hecklers and bad jokes, my question is how do you handle these kind of people?
This hasn’t happened since my close-up days. There’s plenty of comments and bad jokes from punters to be had there, but if you see them as signals to involve people or routes to allow people to enjoy themselves and not feel threatened or annoyed, then they’re a bonus, not a problem.
It’s different if you’re working a club room and getting stick. There’s no substitute for just having some good lines for hecklers. If you try and deal with aggression by ad-libbing something snotty, you’ll lose the audience and it will all become miserable. However, I’ve never really worked in that environment, so I can’t advise. Worst I ever had was a group of Christians objecting to hypnosis I was performing. I just suggested they forgive me, which I think got a laugh…
Sorry I can’t be of much more help. But I think that in a close-up situation, it’s all worth listening to and reading as very valuable. There’s precious little honest feedback for close-up magicians.
I like to push the envelope whenever possible, even if fellow magicians think I am crazy or fanatic. I like to use hypnosis or rapid induction whenever possible. I sometimes perform hypno heat with hypnosis sometimes, if the mood is right and sometimes I will cheat with hypno heat.
What are your views about hypno heat? There was some great debating going on about the subject, but this forum could not handle it, so the thread was removed, as I speculate this will too. I have an analytical mind, and when you have that mind set debating with someone using their feelings, is a never ending situation, it is like telling a religious person to prove the existence of GOD. Usually their answer is “just because,” “it says so in the bible” or some other person’s experience. So sad…..
My views were, hypno heat is safe to the audience, depending on the quantity at hand. Some people used pure powdered on some occasions which is crazy, I would use the same amount in 200 performances, which is diluted and safe. What do you do if you are trying to do a rapid induction and it is not going right, do you just let it go and try later or do you cover up? I cover up with hypno heat, or I use it to start off with.
I do not mean this to be an onging debate with others, just let MR. Brown remark.
PM your response, if you would like, I would imagine you would know why.
I don’t know a lot about it, but I did have some once, years ago. A pharmacist I knew nearly ruptured himself when he found out what it was, and that it’s put in people’s hands. Enough to put me off ever using it.
What’s your thoughts regarding the record number of complaints about your Russian Roulette & Seance tv programmes?
(p.s. your profile pic looks like a cross between Max Maven & Ali G!)
Ever so proud, thank you. About 20 complaints for me blowing my head off, and 700+ for the seance. Nearly all made before the show even aired. Just makes me feel even more justified in trying to get people to think a little bit more about these things.
Hope you like the new avatar.
Poster Stephen showed me that russian roulette poster you gave him, its on his study wall. quick question, where were these put up, because I’m sure I never cuaght sight of one before the Program.
hey went up in bus stops around London. So you probably missed them.
Derren, I know you have got an awfull lot of questions to anwer! so I’ll be brief! Amazing that not many U.S people have seen you perform but you have more questions than anyone in the past 2 years! (I did orginally post else were but I belive it has ben deleted) Firt I want to congradulate you on your success, I think you are fantastic! Craking the British public that that is pretty amazing!I was going to talk to you at Blackpool magic convention, a few years ago but you looked to scary (sorry) if you are going in FebuaryIwilltalk this time! By the way is this anew look in the avatar? All I can say is pleasure to have you here and well done for breathing new life into the mind control and hypnosis.
Many thanks Matt.
During the seance – ‘I swear my wardrobe just jerked!’
Hi Derren good to see you here, loved RR and the seance, I was just wondering how you felt when there was that woman ringing in during the seance chatting about how her wardrobe just jumped!
I found it hilarious, I wonder how she felt when you revealed the seance was actually a way of ‘debunking’ as you put it
what books did you read when you started becoming interested in mentalism? I have both Pure Effect and AM, and I know you were a ‘regular’ magician before mentalism… well, regular, I mean cups and balls that kinda thing.
Yes, I loved the wardrobe bit. We had 8,000 calls, and clearly a lot of them were people making up rubbish to try and get on TV. Many were very funny indeed, but there was no time to go through them all.
Book-wise, I started with Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic, and then Expert Card Technique. I still recommend them a lot.
Jerry Sadowitz As a Sadowitz fan I heard it was he who helped you get the TV show.
Can you tell us a little about this.
Thanks Is it true that much of the card material on “The devils picture book” was influenced from sadowicz? e.g.the three of clubs bit (which he published in “Profile” and the “Crimp” magazine?) Also, the oil and water routine using face up bottom dealing. Did he also put you in touch with ch4 who were specifically looking for a mentalist to “compete” with David Blaine? Also, is it true that he put you and H&R magic together to publish your books with his recommendation?
Or is he just a raving nutter as everyone seems to agree on!!!
Jerry has been very instrumental in me getting to this point. With his encouragement, enthusiasm, faith and help I gave a private lecture for International Magic one evening (NOT the thing on the tape); later he put me in touch with H&R publishers; and most of all he gave my name to Objective after they had spent 2 years (ahem) looking for someone to do this sort of show. So if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what I’d be doing now. I’m immensely grateful. It’s something I’ve said in a lot of interviews, but doesn’t often make it to final press.
So yes, all true. And yes, he’s been a real influence on my card magic, along with Guy and Lennart. He is one of the very, very finest. (Not sure what you mean by the ‘3 of clubs’ bit, though. He does have a psychological force of that card, which I’ve never used. I’ve got the 3 of Diamonds thing, but that’s very differently done.)
Whats your favourite?
I was just wondering what type of magic you like the best. I know you used to be a sleight-of-hand magician but do you prefer that to the Psychological stuff you do now?
Also any plans to come to Newcastle in the upcoming tour?
Hi Clairey – Dates not sorted yet for the tour, sorry, but I’m sure I’ll be there. Do come along and say hello afterwards if I come out and sign things. And yes, I certainly prefer what I do now, though I still have a real love of conjuring.
I guess we’re both looking forward to the Willy Wonka remake, unless that means you’ve seen it already.
Moving from closeup to parlour
Wondered how, in your early days, you moved from the closeup situation to parlour and then stage?
The reason I ask is that I’ve been performing closeup professionally for a number of years but I’m getting more and more of a desire to perform TO an audience. I’ve drafted a 1 hour ACT which is in it’s infancy, but how do you go about moving in that direction?
You’re better off with a 45 minute act. An hour will be very hard to book, and is very long.
For me, I only ever had done close-up until making the TV show. The only ‘parlour’ I’d done was occasional mini-act at a convention. Once the TV got underway, I needed a cabaret/corporate after-dinner act, so I put one together, which became the first half of the previous tour. By that point I had a manager and the beginnings of a profile, so the ball was slowly rolling. However – I only had 5 gigs in the first year, whereas I’d had a couple a week for a year or so before that. Bizarrely, my fee had gone up tenfold overnight, but no-one knew who I was to pay it. But those who did were expected to cough up a larger sum. I had to borrow money the first year, and then it started taking care of itself.
It’s definitely worth making the move. It’s a shame to see how low-profile even a world-class close-up magician is working the tables at an event, compared to the after dinner entertainment on stage.
Get 45 minutes together with an arresting start and an unforgettable finish, and make sure you work it through with someone else who can give you honest feedback. Have it scripted and solid, of course.
Hope that’s of some help,
Your creative process
It’s a pleasure and an honour to meet you here at the Cafe. Sincere toadying over, I was wondering if you could describe for us your creative process? How do you get your ideas? (What inspires you?) And how do you then develop those ideas for performance?
Caleb Strange. Do you find yourself browsing through old, dusty tomes to find inspiration within stories, or do you keep to traditional ‘magic’ books?
Well, I have the luxury now of having people paid to thrash ideas around with. It’s great. I find conversation with like-minded performers invaluable. But in terms of when I am on my own, there’s no formula. I just try to keep the effect uncluttered and simple. Or I might think of the situation I would like to have an effect for first: in the street meeting a fan; in a restaurant; on stage; or wherever. Somehow from imagining that, ideas for effects sometimes organically flow. Or occasionally it’s from something I realise I can do reliably, or from very satisfying method I stumble across while playing or out walking.
I don’t go through old books as much as I should. But from time to time I will, and there’s normally some treasure in there which I feel I can change into something which suits me.
No idea if that helps…
It seems that you are very guarded about your “secrets” and that I can understand. If someone really wanted to know how a particular technique was done and you trusted that they wouldn’t spread the word on the nearest internet forum, would you tell them?
Also have you any plans of ever teaching your techniques? After all you are not going to live forever and it would be a shame if what you knew died with you.
Loving all your work by the way.
Amy No – the desire to gloat over a particularly satisfying technique has long left me, so I keep things to myself. There’s a tiny handful of people I confide in connected with the TV show, and all have signed confidentiality agreements. Occasionally I read on the net that so-and-so knows such-and-such who’s involved with the show and has assured him that this or that technique was used, but it’s always nonsense or exaggerated Chinese whispers.
It’s only so as to not spoil the fun. And yes, I’m sure one day, when it’s all going a bit downhill and I need the cash, I’ll write a big fat book and pass it all on to the magic community, if there’s any interest. Perhaps the desire to gloat a bit will find me again…
db Favourite effect? Derren, could you tell us which is your favourite of all the effects you’ve performed, if you have one?
I also have a couple of other questions: in your live show, where you let an audience member win money from you so you can win it back from them, have you ever had one who just took the money? (If so, you didn’t keep their watch did you? )
How did you feel about Simon Singh’s oft-quoted newspaper article a while back which accused you of fraudulently presenting magic tricks as psychological effects? Do you find it impossible to define the difference between magic and psychology?
They only sometimes won the money, and maybe on a couple of occasions didn’t then gamble it. On a couple of occasions the õ00 cheque was won too when they picked the correct/wrong envelope. Anyone at the first night of the last tour will confirm that.
Re: Simon’s article – I think he was more concerned that C4 had billed me under the science section of their website, which of course was not right. I have no real argument with the article, other than the fact that I think he thought I was making claims I wasn’t. It’s a mixture of magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship; as I say in the show. I wouldn’t want to nail when something is or isn’t what I’m suggesting it is, as that might spoil the impact of the performance. Some of it’s what I say it is, some of it isn’t.
As for my favourite effect… not sure. I loved the Seance, and perhaps most of all in that I loved the Spirit Cabinet.
db Your experience with Objective Productions Hi Derren from Spain:
First of all welcome and thank you very much for your time.
I know that Objective Productions produced your shows for the english television.
Recently I met them in Spain, they were here with Pete Firman and Ali Cook filming our XXVI National Convention of Magic, and it was an incredible experience. They are great people, as long as magicians. And of course, with the Head of Magic Programming, Anthony Owen, a very kind person, I got a good friendship.
I just want to know how was the experience of working with them, and your opinion about Pete and Ali as magicians.
And of course, if I could ask you a favour, it will be to give them my best regards next time you see them.
All the best magic,
Without sounding like a horrendous luvvie, Objective are really, really lovely to work with. I count Andy Nyman, Anthony Owen, Andrew O’Connor amongst my closer friends, and the producer and director too. It’s a bit of a family now. AO and AOC in particular have a love for magic and an understanding of magic on TV which is terrific. These years will be looked back on as the Objective years of magic, in the same way that John Fisher was the name behind TV magic for many years.
Ali Cook and Pete Firman are super-duper too. Pleased you got to meet them. Pete’s an absolute delight.
Now I am sounding like a luvvie, so I’ll stop.
db The reality of fame You have referred before to how you lost your certainties when you began to examine your Christian faith. Now you are moderately famous it is clear that you are attracting a lot more extreme and unpleasant attention, so much so that you are considering no more after-show signings (which will be a real disappointment to many people).
If you were to redo the DVD interview today, would you still admit to having your cake and eating it, or are you having to reassess the certainties of celebrity now that you are encountering its darker side? Ooh – great question. I’ve always felt that having cake and eating it should be one’s goal, and that still holds.
I get mail and have contact with some people which really makes me shiver. I’ve had people threatening to sue me for psychically assaulting them; mail from people who are dying asking for help; and my share of rape accusations from people I have never met. To be honest, this is why I don’t get bothered about issues like copyist performers or people using my name when they shouldn’t on ebay. Things get put in perspective.
Equally, as delighted as I am to have a dedicated fan base, there are times when the level of personal interest and desperation to find out any tiny personal details are hugely claustrophobic. I’m pleased I only have it in such a small measure. For people who court fame for its own sake and get it, or who no fault of their own end up with it in spades, it must be mostly vile. For example, when I moved to London, I read some 14 pages of discussion from people trying to piece together my new address so they could come and wait around for me. That’s horrible.
Because only 3 million or so watch the shows, it’s all manageable and generally all good. It’s normally very nice to be stopped in the street or said hello to by those 1 in 20 people, and delightful to get special treatment sometimes. The hard part is learning to detach yourself from the nutters or the really unfortunate cases. But Jerry Sadowitz refers to it as a tax you pay for being known, and I guess he’s right. And as long as you’re concentrating on trying to do well, the fame part stays in perspective.
db Aspirations Derren, hi
Let me start by saying I have been a big fan of your for quite a while. I have really enjoyed all the TV shows, and was fortunate enough to see your live show up in Edinburgh. I was just sad that you didn’t manage to guess my telephone number!
I wanted to ask you, before the TV show, where did you think your career would go? What goals and plans did you have? Did you dream/hope you would get this big?
Also, I loved watching The Devil’s Picturebook! You have inspired my to get back into magic. I have been doing card magic for a few years now, and I am beginning to do some mentalism. Fascinating stuff.
Keep up the amazing work!
Hi there Tommy.
No, never thought it would be particularly successful. Aside from getting it underway in the US, I’ve got no particular goals for now. My only ambitions centre, rather egotistically, around my lifestyle. The rest is a very enjoyable game to be played.
Cheers for coming to the show. Hope you enjoyed it.
db Time limitations Hi Derren,
I really enjoyed the TOTM sries and the specials.
The live show was fantastic.
I wonder how you feel about the time limitations set upon you with a tv series, as presumably, the filming is on a firly tight schedule as opposed to a live show where there is plenty of rehersal time.
Do you find it difficult to perfect and perform new effects as well as you would like becasue of this?
All the best
The Force Thank you. Yes, it’s a frighteningly rapid and unforgiving process, but you learn to move at the necessary speed. It’s a shame that you only get one go at it on TV: in the live show, I can tweak it every night and slowly let it all come together.
Of course more time would always be a tremendous bonus, and there have been routines fromt he shows (not saying which ones…) which I feel would be better had I had more time to play with them and try them out. But where the performance may not be as polished as a stage piece, you have the luxury of music and close-ups to aid the drama.
Incidentally, to make a series and 2 specials takes 8 months. Touring takes 4, with a month to write and rehearse the show from scratch. That’s my entire year, with no breaks. I’ve been working to that schedule since February 2003, and know that it won’t change until at least May 2006. It is hard work.
db Is it still mentalism? Hi Derren,
I was just wondering what with having such a large crew of magicians working behind the scenes and the freedom that prerecorded shows offers, do you consider your work to still be your own and does it still adhere to your values?
Also I always wonder how much of what we see on the screen is actual mentalism and how much is clever editing, the later being something different altogether I suppose (more like special effects)
Clearly I am not asking for any idea of how things are done I’m just curious as to what you consider to be fair game to produce an effect.
Also I like the avatar picure certainly captures the feel of this place. Given the unpredictability of the general public, I initially suspected that a lot of creative editing was involved in the TV shows. However, having seen Derren’s live show, I’m happy to report that I’m now convinced that’s not nearly such a significant factor as I thought. He really is that good.
Thank you – a rich question, I think.
We all know that non-magicians, when they don’t understand a trick, like to fall back on phrases like ‘It’s all sleight-of-hand’. We also hear a lot that people tend not to trust magic on TV – which is why they like our close-up so much. Many magicians, because we are also lay-people when we something fools us, tend to do the same thing. I hear a lot that I rely on clever editing or stooges, which is really not the case.
It’s absolutely vital that the spectator you see in the show has the same experience of the effect as when they watch it on TV. I can’t go chopping bits around, or they’d have a good reason to complain. Equally, aside from how artistically replulsive it is, I can’t go employing stooges. Whatever we could pay them would be nothing compared to what a paper would pay for their story. And also, we can’t go filming a street routine a hundred times and then just show the few that work. We’d have 95 sets of people (in front of whom I had repeatedly humiliated myself)complaining that their bit wasn’t shown because it didn’t work; and financially and logistically it’s not possible. It takes ages to set up and shoot these things.
I think these are good rules to work within. It also makes sense to use the medium and what it offers, of course, but you can’t just create a fiction in the edit room. My career would be over the moment people from the show started telling their stories.
I don’t have a large crew of magicians working behind the scenes: not sure what you’re visualising there. Sometimes we’ll get some people together to brainstorm ideas or half-ideas for effects to get the ball rolling. That’s a lovely thing, as is the ability to discuss and throw ideas around. But after that the onus is on me. I work very closely with Andy Nyman here, as you probably know, as two heads are always better than one and we think very similarly.
So yes – the logistics of making a TV show, working with a director and so on are very different from performing close-up, and are very hard to compare. Unfortunately one difference is that people trust TV less. Ultimately this is why I prefer to perform live, so none of these issues arise.
Great question though, thank you. And thank YOU, ‘contains mild peril’.
db Motivation Derren,
You’ve spent years developing yourself and your craft. What is it that keeps you motivated to continue to develop new effects, stage shows and TV programs?
Thanks for your answer, and your skills…
M. My mortgage.
That and the fact that I adore touring, love the people I work with and still find the challenge of coming up with routines and methods utterly delightful.
But right now, mainly my massive and terrifying mortgage.
db Geek love What are magicians like as fans? Do you prefer the flattery of the general public, which is probably a better gauge of your success?
We’re a peculiar mix (not in itself a bad thing) and terribly geeky, even if we don’t admit it. Is it a bit wearing, or are you impressed by the enthusiasm?
I always hope that when Brad Pitt wakes up in the morning and realises that he is, infact, Brad Pitt, he runs around the bedroom cheering and grinning (quietly, so as not to wake Jennifer) – if living the dream isn’t as good as it seems, what’s the point in dreaming. So I guess what I’m trying to ask is, is it good to be you? Magicians as fans? Enormously supportive and generally very nice. There’s a tendency amongst some magicians to dismiss something when they recognise a method, and miss the joy of a perhaps new or startling effect: this can be very wearying. I hope it’s ok to say that. I’m the opposite: I love being fooled and will revel in not knowing how it was done, even if in the back of my mind I do know. So I can’t get excited by magic reviews in circulars which just list the tricks performed, or magicians who seem determined to be as joyless towards magic as possible.
But personally, I’ve always been immensely grateful towards the magic community for being so supportive. Especially in this country, where success tends to be sneered at. I’m guessing there’s such an alarming over-saturation of Derren Brown topics in magic discussion groups on the Internet that it’s only the vomiting fits that have kept you from murdering me.
And I think it’s as good and bad as ever to be me: I just have nicer stuff now.
db Did this happen? Hey,
I heard a rumour that you made a woman cry on stage during your ‘Second half’. Well maybe you didn’t make her, but is it true that a woman started crying during one of your shows?
I hope you don’t mind me asking but what did you do to handle the situation?
I had many nights when the spectator would cry at a particular point as they read out a letter. I wanted to achieve a lot of different emotions with the show. I handled it sensitively and appropriately, I hope, and would read the letter for them if they didn’t want to continue.
db Taking Chances Curious as to what your thoughts are regarding taking chances during performances of Mentalism. I’ve not seen your live show, as I don’t live in the U.K., but from your books it seems that there are lots of chance-riddled effects in your repertoire.
I suppose my main question would be, if you have a method or methods that are surefire in a routine, would you sometimes ignore a proven method and try a chancier (is that a word?)one just for your own amusement, or to throw people off of your usual methods?
I guess I punctuate a performance with pretty sure-fire methods to guarantee the correct grammar for a successful and entertaining show, and them mix in risks and chancier routines to keep it edgy and unpredictable. Absolutely.
db Derren To Derren brown,
My name is Stephen Williams, and I come from Liverpool, England.
I am 10 years old. I saw your show in the empire, it was the best thing I have ever seen in my life. When I am older I want to be a magician, but I am interested in hypnosis and mind manipulating, have you got any advice you could give to me please?
Ste. Hi Stephen, thanks ever so much for writing. And thanks for coming to the show. I’m guessing you sneaked in, as no under 12’s were supposed to be there. In fact I saw you, I’m sure – because I remember thinking, ‘I must report that tiny boy to the police after the show’.
I’m pleased you liked it so much: I love performing the show. They’re beautiful theatres and it’s very cool coming out on stage and seeing you all sat there.
As for hypnotising -it’s very difficult to hypnotise someone if you’re quite a bit younger than them, as they don’t take it very seriously. You could try a) just hypnotising very young children or kittens, or b)drawing a fake beard on with permanent marker first: that might make you look older. It worked for me in the first couple of TV shows. Or c) do what I did: learn magic first, and get really good at it, and then see if it leads you into the mind-reading sort of thing that I do. It took me ten years to really learn it properly, and I’m ninety-three now.
You spell better than any other person on this forum, so you’re obviously bright enough to be very good at magic. And bright enough to know that you can do much more clever magic that you make up yourself instead of just what everyone else does, which is normally silly. I also imagine you’re very creative and good at painting or writing or fixing stuff or making people laugh… all sorts of skills you’ll find you can bring to the magic you do.
If you send an email to my assistant, and tell him your address, I’ll find and send you a magic book suitable for an intelligent and creative ten-year old to get you started. I’ll even sign it from me and David Blaine. That’s how I got started: I got a book and tried all the stuff in it. It built from there.
Best of luck with it. I’ll tell Coops to expect an email from you. And I’ll alert the police again.
Derren. A performing personality It seems to me that the irony of magic is that it apparently lends itself to a more introverted personality. Sitting quietly reading and practicing sleights, working up new methods requires a certain kind of person with a great deal of commitment and staying power.
However the end result is something more suited to an extroverted personality (performing for an audience.)
I’m aware that everybody is a mixture of both introvert and extrovert but I was wondering how you first took the step to perform the material that you had spent your time practicing and rehearsing; and how did you deal with the nervousness that initially accompanies performing for an audience?
Damion For me, it was about being a frustrated performer and wanting to do something. Because of that, there was never any nervousness to speak of. It took care of all my need for attention, which allowed the rest of me to become, hopefully, a lot more pleasant and less self-aggrandizing.
Having said that I used to hate approaching tables for years, and I don’t think it ever became entirely second-nature. But I think that’s a good thing. It’s hard because it’s unnatural and rude, so you have to take that on board and change your approach accordingly.
It’s because of this introvert/extrovert tension you interestingly point out that much magic isn’t terribly interesting: because the magician is still performing for himself. I guess to get it right you need to be both pathologically obsessive AND desperate for attention: a winning combination in anyone’s book.
db Invisible compromise —–> 2 perfect theory? Does the former invoke the latter is what I’m asking really? Wrote about Invisible Compromise elsewhere here. Might be worth referring to that. Don’t think the Too Perfect Theory is quiet right, anyway. There’s plenty of presentational frames in magic that can make a feature of impossible cleanliness. In mentalism it’s a little different, as you are purposefully creating a sense of a method, so I don’t think it applies to a well-thought out performance.
Getting too late – can’t keep my eyes open. Ner-night.
db Ruthless selection Hello Derren,
You’ve mentioned in several of your publications for magicians the need for being ruthless in the selection of material when it comes to choosing effects that suit your style. I wondered if you could talk a little about effects that maybee you had a soft spot for, but in the end had to make the descision to cut because they didn’t suit your performance character. Is there, for example, a secret and cherished Derren Brown cups and balls routine that you queitly perfom when no one is looking? As a spectator are there magical genres other that mentalism and playing card work (both of which you are enormously gifted at) which still delight you?
Hmm. I still love pickpocketing, but it’s not an easy one to drop into mentlaism routines. It can stand on its own as part of a set, given the proper framing, but I had to lose a watch steal I was using in the stage show because it seemed out of place. I’ve lost my affection, I have to say, for most conjuring card tricks, unless they happen to be really engagingly performed.
I still love magic, so if something is performed well, of course I’ll really enjoy it. It’s always a delight to see the greats work, and I’m lucky enough to know a few. I was sat, unworthy, in the company of Lennart Green and Guy H the other week in a hotel bar, doing my best to contribute to a little card session. It was such a delight, and such things will, I hope, never cease to be hugely enjoyable and exciting.
db Mind reading How did you get to be so good at mind reading and psychological tricks? I can usually tell if someone’s lying, but you seem to be able to pick up on minor signals to be able to tell exactly what’s going on in their mind. Did that take a long time to learn?
Also, what age were you when you started learning magic? I started when I was 7.
P.S. I got into your show and I’m only 10. It was fantastic. Your seance on TV was brilliant too. Thanks Mikelo. Very nice of you to post. And great picture.
Pleased you liked the seance – I did too. Had no idea they were going to be quite that scared, and I kept going off to giggle and jump up and down with the film crew in the ad breaks.
It did take me a long time to learn, but as you know, it’s not all quite what I say it is. I started off as a hypnotist and then got into magic when I realised I didn’t want to work as a hypnotist full-time. But magic teaches you a way of thinking and a love of giving people a feeling of amazement, and these things stuck with me. So I tried mixing some of the magic things I had learnt with the psychological things I had learnt to come up with what I’m doing now. It’s not real mind-reading: it’s normally more about creating the hopefully amazing and enjoyable feeling that mind-reading has just happened.
But good luck with it all – it’s lots of fun.
Derren. Fora I’m not sure if we’re really supposed to ask you questions like this, but I noticed you already know salsa dancer and Truthteller. Do you often visit internet fora? Tempting me by using that word. A few years back I used to read lot of discussion boards, mainly to see if anyone was saying anything about me. I remember liking these guys’ posts. Nowadays, apart from looking though my own forum from time-to-time (it’s unhealthy to do it more than occasionally) and sometimes reading a thread here or there which someone says I should look at, I don’t really, no. I wish I had the time, it might be fun.
db New effects Hi Derren,
I’ll be brief: When you’re ‘composing’ new effects, what comes first – you or the audience? Do you start with what you’d like to try and then play with it so it will suit an audience – or do you begin with a more audience-specific perspective? Have you ever dropped an effect because it’s too much one or the other (i.e. too much ‘just for you’ or too much ‘only for the audience’)?
Thank you for your time. Best of luck with your new show/series …
Amanda It’s difficult to say, as there’s a lot of reasons why an effect might come into being. But it’s certainly something that from the start I will see from the audience’s persepctive, as that’s where it all happens. Much of the time I may start with a new technique I’m trying out, but it’s always the impact and perception of the event which is paramount in my mind.
db Passing phase? Hi Derren,
You’ve made your current thoughts on mind-reading and mentalism well known, but how do you view the future of the field? You’ve obviously helped to raise the profile of an already active area of performance and entertainment, but do you feel there is a chance that mentalism could eventually gain the slightly dubious reputation of more traditional magic? With the advent of a whole host of new magic shops and dealers, and with more individuals becoming interested, I somehow think that the possibility for genuine and believable mentalist performance is ever-decreasing. I know you’ve said on here that you have a preference for original material that hopefully magicians can’t deconstruct, so am I being overly pessimistic?
Answers in a sealed unmarked envelope please.
Thanks for your time,
Mark I think high-profile mentalists have always been few and far between, and I imagine it will stay that way. I’m aware there are a lot of young performers getting into it now, which is great, but that will calm down a bit: it was similar when Blaine first came along.
I don’t think it will ever become trad. Magicians are easier to bunch together in the public’s perception; whereas mentalists tend to be more distinct, often make very different claims, and are seen less in the media.
I hope, but am pretty sure, it will take care of itself.
db Star struck Hi,
Being interested in mentalism, I feel slightly star struck by great names such as your self.Your work was recommended to me and I loved it. When you were starting out, were there any magicians that you felt particularly in awe of? Is there anybodies work that you feel may be of interest to someone such as myself?
Amy I came into magic fairly late. I didn’t join any magic clubs and didn’t know any magicians. There’s an old tape of me in a close-up magic competition: that was the first time I’s really come across the ‘scene’, and I remember having no idea who was known and who wasn’t.
I suppose after a while, I really started to hugely admire a few names: Canasta, Sadowitz, Teller, Hollingworth, Berglas, Tommy Wonder. I still do. I’d recommend the work of all of them.
db Some fav magicians…. Just wondering who are you favorite magicians and why?
Who are some of your favs that you met and why?
Any stories would be great no matter how long or short! Oops -just answered this elsewhere. Briefly – Guy Hollingworth, Canasta, Teller, Sadowitz, Tommy Wonder, Berglas.
db Balanced EGO Hey Have some TEA and stay awake young man.
I remember in absolute magic you touched apon conrolling your ego. Do you have any pointers, in maintaining a healthy balanced EGO whilst?
From experience I find that ego trap very easy to fall into, thus thinking that your effects are so good and hence you stop improving or developing them and your performance further. As you have said that performin a miricle will always have inherent entertainment value.
Don’t fully understand what you’re asking, but in terms of live performance, I’ve realised the massive benefits of working with a director. There’s a real ego issue for magicians to get over – let alone mentalists! I don’t personally know of any magicians (though I’m sure there are a tiny handful) who are prepared to use a director, and it’s all about ego. And I think it shows.
I came into the TV off the back of writing the two books for the magic fraternity, enjoying some success there and thinking I was hot stuff. Of course I knew nothing about TV, and soon realised that my real perfomance skills were very poor compared to what I would have to learn. The only way to embark on that journey is to have your ego beaten and bruised at every turn. Now I kind of like it – it’s a healthy balance to the exaggerated credit and unwarranted adulation that I sometimes (enjoyably) receive.
But yes, self-delusion and exaggerated sense of impact is the common curse our profession, and it exists at every level, making the material suffer. Arranging for honest, professional feedback and having a willingness to trust it is the only answer.
(I’m not saying for a moment that I’ve got it right or anything like that. And it’s a separate issue from the ego of performers in everyday life. I’m sure mine is massive and unbearable.)
db Misbehaving Media Hi Derren
Congratulations on regularly being voted one of Britain’s most strangely attractive men.
Saw your live show earlier this year and was particularly impressed with the part where an audience member became a medium and revealed various facts about your dead friend. It was very cheeky.
Were there occasions when the medium tried to show you up by announcing incorrect things? If so, how did you deal with it? Nope, they hopefully had no cause to. It was never set up as a challenge, and the tone was too serious for people to start messing about. Often they got things wrong, of course, which was fine. That part was only meant to be a soft, preparatory effect.
I prefer ‘unusually attractive’.
db Please help me with my disbelieve When I watch your specials, I always get a a very annoying feeling of impossibility. It’s hard to explain. Sometimes, you get a feeling of impossibility because it’s so magical. Here, that’s not the case. When a cap driver forgets where the London Eye is, or a man falls asleep at the phone (sure) it just screams “stooges” to me. And it annoys me, because many magicians love you and your style and think you are the real deal. And who am I NOT to believe them.
Can you, or anyone, advise me with some literature to just give me the idea something like the things in your show CAN be done, and are not always faked.
I hope you all can understand this, never have I felt so much difficulty explaining something in English. I’ve answered this at length elsewhere, if you can be bothered to find it. But no, no stooges. Routines like those are working with suggestibility (I started my career as a hypnotist), which is different from classic magic methods, of course.
Sorry if they’re not proving much fun for you. I don’t think you’ll find much literature on it.
db Difference between hypnosis and suggestion Is hypnosis just a stronger form of suggestion, or is it something else.? It seems there is little agreement in texts. I thought that you may have more of an insight than most as to this topic. Care to share your thoughts? Thanks, Phil. I see ‘hypnosis’ as a shorthand term for a micture of such elements as suggestion, response expectancy, hype, charisma, role playing, social pressure etc. In the same way ‘magic’ is a shorthand term for all the theatrical and technical elements of which it comprises. Neither is ‘real’ as such, unless you take it to mean an experience, or a description of a type of event. But both break down into many different components when you take a closer look.
db Stage door Louise Hi Derren,
you may have long since left this board but I will throw in a quickie, just in case you’re still around???
I saw, and heartily enjoyed, the show at The Palace. At the end of the show I whisked myself off to the stage door for an autograph ( which you very pleasantly gave me, ta. ) While I was waiting in the line I was amazed (although thinking about it not that amazed) to see the stage door trooper – Louise. Being an actor, I have met and signed and posed and kissed and hugged and avoided and run from Lousie on a number of occasions.
On that night (I noticed Mr. Schwimmer in the audience seated next to Mr. Nyman – If that helps??) Lousie was proudly displaying her pics of the two of you and doing a dutiful job organising the queue, giving strict instruction on how you like the fans to behave. She did very well and everyone obeyed.
I would just like to pass on my heart felt thanks for your obvious time and patience with her. Unfortunately I have witnessed a fair amount of unpleasantness surrounding her in the past as you can imagine. The fact that she chose your stage door to help with says a lot. Particularly when you consider she has the whole of the west end at her disposal.
To briefly wrap up – good on ya! Twas cockle warming indeed.
Anyway – I loved the show. I read that you’re a lover of good theatre so I’d like to say that you can be proud of the fact that you set the west end on fire!!
Thanks very much.
All the best…
Matt. Ah… and I must add she got a bunch of flowers from me on the last night, and the phonebook I’d been using for the routine. I’d wangled her in to see the show and she had asked for a spare prop as a souvenir. In return she’d given me a huge teddy bear from her bedroom.
Bless us both… !! SHALL STOP BY TOMORROW MORNING Had a gig tonight and didn’t get much of a chance to stop by here in the evening. So I’ll come by tomorrow (Friday) am and try and answer what I can to finish off.
Must go to bed now. Sorry.
xx Suspending the belief Hello Derren,
Nice to talk with you here.
When you perform mentalism, sometimes you will get too strong response from audience, who think you are really a pychic. In these situations, how could you handle the audience’s emotion to attain the maximum ‘after-effect’? In other words, how to suspend audience belief for long period of time without destroying the illusion of effects.
For me, the maximum impact is not a belief that I have psychic powers. That’s not difficult to achieve, and neither is amazement. It’s inherently amazing, and the conclusion that one must be in some way psychic is the obvious first route for a spectator to take.
I’m happiest when the reaction is more resonant: when the spectator feels a little challenged by what’s happened. That they KNOW it’s not psychic, and don’t have an easy label to put on it. In the end, there’s only your persona as a performer that you have to concentrate on communicating. The routines are mere demonstrations (although they have to be great ones): you are more than the sum of them. The difference between the two is where the ‘magic’ lies. So whatever belief they attach to what they’ve seen – whatever conclusions they draw – I’ll consistently challenge them, so they can’t find a comfortable answer. The only thing I’ll really nail for them is that it’s not a psychic event.
That’s the maximum ‘after-effect’ for me, not just eliciting a quick scream or an ‘Ohmygodhowdidyoudothat’.
db TV awards Hi Derren
I remember watching you present an award on the national TV awards or something like that. The effect you performed involved five people thinking of a word, without getting into the hows and whys – one of them changed their mind from what you were expecting.
You handled it extremely coolly but I was wondering if on the inside you were ****ting yourself or if it was all in a days work? Blaargh, wish I hadn’t done that. They had asked me to do a minute or two, but with the (may I say) enthusiastic and hyper-active audience it ended up taking ages.
No, didn’t bother me: thought it was quite funny. Makes things more interesting.
Thank you, kind Sir.
db Yet another question! Magician or Psychic? (or something else)
What would you like on your gravestone?
Sorry to be morbid!!
Paul On my tombstone? Maybe just the word ‘Help’ scratched badly near the bottom.
Not sure what I’d like to be remembered for. Don’t feel it really matters. But I’d be happy to be rememebered as pleasant, or failing that to die as part of some elaborate practical joke.
db Patter When you deal with the presentation, what’s your creative process, how do you develope your patter?
Robert I don’t think of it as patter. I don’t really like the word. I just try to keep everything simple and direct, and use what understanding of language and performance ability I have to come up with a script (although not a written one) which does the job as well as it can.
I’ve given answers elsewhere about how I come up with effects, if you want to have a look around here. Sorry, it’s impossible to refer people accurately to previous answers. With TV stuff, when you have to come up with an inordinate amount of material, it’s different from working on your own live routines. With TV you have the luxury of people paid to thrash ideas out with you. And more than one person’s input stops things becoming indulgent and complacent.
db Street Mentalism Hi again,
Do you think street mentalism is something that could work. When I say this I don’t mean, mentalism done in the style of Mr David Blaine. What I mean is if it was to be performed in the way that street magic was originaly performed. Possibly simialr to you 10p to be a mindreader piece. Although done in a different way maybe adding a table.
Of course it could work. Not really my style, and you’d have a lot of challenges to get over. The temptation would be to squeeze one mould (Blaine) into another (me/whoever). That would never work that well – or at least be, at best, a copy. But if you approached it with a fresh slate, and an understanding of character etc, it could be excellent and surprising. Could be great fun.
db Tearing down How do you cope with someone who feels that your effects (being so strong), confirm a belief which you know to be erroneous.? Are you bothered?
I performed a trick one someone who went absoloutley nuts when she saw it ,which I loved. She then went on about various new age beliefs and suddenly I wasn’t so happy with her reaction. Without revealing any methods I told her I was pracitcing deception and had to tare my act down as Andy Nyman describes in his DVD. I get the feeling that your more reluctant to do this, is that correct? Do you get many new agers claiming you as their champion? Hmm – I’ve given an answer to this elsewhere. But I think it’s relatively easy to control that sort of thing by the scripting of the effect.
Equally you can only be responsible for the central swerve of the bell-curve, in terms of audience response. There will always be people at either extremes who dismiss it entirely or fanatically over-respond. As long as most people get it in a way you’re happy with, I think that’s all you can aim for.
db BYE-BYE Time to go. Busy celebrity lifestyle to lead. And stuff.
Very sorry I didn’t get to answer all the questions. Some I left if I felt I’d answered elsewhere, others I’m afraid I skipped if I was pushed for time and felt I had nothing to say on the subject. Forgive me.
Equally I haven’t been very good with PMs. Just way too many, I do apologise.
Thank you very much for having me, and thank you for not demanding to know about methods and so on. One or two questions I have left unanswered for the same reason – which is that many of my answers will get picked up here and posted around the net, or even turn up in interviews that I do. It’s a shame, but also gets me off the hook, so ha ha.
I was expecting more criticism, so thanks ever so much for all being so pleasant.
It’s a great forum, and thanks again to Steve Brooks for allowing me to do this – and Stephen Long for suggesting it.
I hope some of it has been useful. I was very tired sometimes, so forgive me if I was brusque or charmlessly brief with any of you.
Have a nice rest of your day. And thank you again.