In my show I do a bit that’s a “spectator as mind reader” sort of bit. That’s where one person from the audience tells another person what they are thinking. This is an interesting sort of trick in that you are removed from the magic or mind reading. It comes down to how it’s framed, are you giving this person a power, are you doing something to influence both people, are you reading one person’s mind then putting the thought into the other…or something else.
One of the things to make this trick work onstage is that both people need to be surprised that the other one knows what’s happening. What I mean by that is if you “stooge” one or both people they will not react with genuine surprise and the trick will lack impact. Using an “instant stooge” where you cue someone in real time is an method that’s slightly better than preparing the person before the show, as you will get a more genuine reaction…but still not as good as if they their thought is random.
So how do you do this trick? There are many ways, my first introduction to this was from a book by Ken Dyne. He has a great routine and method, but it’s not for how I work, however it got me interested in the premise.
In my roving show I do a think where I guess a color someone is thinking of multiple times. As I did this more and more, I wanted to make it more challenging for me as a performer, and I started having another person guess with me and I would talk them through the process. Essentially I would guide their guess, and that started to play really well. While I was clearly guiding them, both people would react when one revealed the color to the other. Doing this trick really showed me the impact a person could have.
In my stage show, I’ve decided to show the process of mind
reading. This works great for my style
of performing. I’m teaching the person how
I do the trick…then they actually do it!
My favorite part is after the show, when people surround the person from
the audience that read another person’s mind and try to get them to tell them
how they did it. In my method, the person don’t know how they do it, they just did
what I told them to do, which is what everyone saw.
I guess my point is to strive to strong premises and clean methods that work you and your style of performing.