Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I love my audience

The great Thurston was said to wait behind the curtains, chanting "I love my audience" over and over. I wonder how many magicians and mentalists today really love their audiences. If I'm to believe a good portion of posts from the magic community, too many people are into magic now - just to feel superior to their audiences.

There's a wonderful and terrifying debate going on at the Magic Cafe which touches on this subject. The debate, led by master mentalist Richard Osterlind on the "respect your audience" side, is ostensibly about pre-show work. In actuality, it appears to be about how one treats one's audience.

The argument is nothing new, really - it's just moved to mentalism now. The same arguments which were made against magic on TV were proven invalid by some incredibly hard work by Mark Wilson. He proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that one could make magic completely believable on television. It took extra work, and it meant that one had to be really, really open with one's audience. In essense, Mr Wilson said "We know there are ways to use the camera to trick you - but we promise to not do that, and we'll do everything we can to keep your trust."

I happen to think that mentalism can do exactly the same.

A chap by the name of Criss Angel will be attempting a regular series of mentalist effects in a few weeks (on A&E). He has some very, very good advisors for his show (such as the incredible Banachek); I can only hope his producers don't fall back on the camera tricks which make recent magic specials look phoney.
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