Elevate Your Mentalism With One, Simple Change

Elevate Your Mentalism With One, Simple Change
Tell me if this feels familiar, you're watching a mentalist perform...

Mentalist: "You're thinking of word. It's something to do with you, yes?"

Spectator: *smiles* Yes it is.

Mentalist: "Concentrate on the last letter for me. It's a 'D'."

Spectator: *still smiling* Yep.

Mentalist: "Okay, now I'm struggling. Don't move your lips, but send it to me.... I'm getting a blur. It's a long word, yes?"

The spectator's smile fades and they think 'Jeez, how long is this guy gonna drag this out for'... 'He already knows the word is to do with me, so he must know the word already'.

Mentalist: "And the first letter - touch my hand/head/a** - Okay I'm torn now between a P or a B."

The spectator pulls the pin out of the grenade to end the performance by confirming, it's definitely a 'B'.

Mentalist: "No, don't tell me. I want to get it on my own."

"Starts with a B, ends with a D... Hmmm."

"You're thinking of the word 'bored'."

Spectator: Yes. Now leave me alone.

What's wrong with that performance?

Of course, it's framed here as a joke for entertainment purposes, but the order of the revelations was all wrong. 

And I see it so often in mentalism & magic. The pretending to struggle on an inferior revelation to one you've already done. 

The mentalist got the meaning of the chosen word, then the last letter, then the length and then struggled to get the first letter - before getting it right. 

The fix?

Revelations need to happen from least to most impressive, in order to scale-up reactions.

Being stuck between 2 letters is the least impressive part. Nailing the word outright is the most impressive part.

So don't guess a letter correctly then pretend to struggle for the next one. 

Let me give you an example...

If you can tell them their Mother's name, they're not going to be impressed later when you feign difficulty guessing a 2 digit number.

To a spectator, you either have the ability or you don't.

Once you've proven that you do, any over-the-top theatrics don't necessarily build suspense in the way you think they do.

I myself have been guilty of this in the past - it's only watching my performances back that I cringe, because it's a one-second fix.

Simply re-order your script in your mind from least impressive hit, to most impressive hit.

So for the example above it would be...

  1. The context of the word (whether it's a name, place or object)
  2. Then the 'struggle' to get the first letter 
  3. Then the context to the spectator who chose that word (this is something you're feeling right now)
  4. Then finally, the word itself. 

That's a short, crude example of the revelations escalating in impressiveness, of course you can use a better script, but ensure that each revelation/hit gets better than the last.

If you don't, your reactions will go up & then come down for the crescendo - which makes no sense. 

Can it ever work without that escalation?

Peter Turner has a beautiful line about 'mixing up the letters' of star sign in their mind, and he's going to try and get them one by one.

"I'm seeing the letter R... and an A." 

This completely hides the problem of "well if they know the first letter, they probably know what the word is"

Being mixed up, each letter that comes through is an equal hit. It's not any less impressive - and it doesn't become boring, as he's not going to spell the full word.

There is also another way... By writing it down.

So go through that same style of escalation again. But before the revelation of the full word, instead of saying it out loud, write it down.

Then say the wrong word/name and get them to turn over the billet. 

This lowers their expectations ready for the big reveal, so when it hits them, it hits harder. 


Like these blog posts? Leave a comment below if you want more of them. 

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These are very helpful. Keep them coming.



This is really great—all performance tips from pros like you guys are worth their weight in gold. On the subject of escalating the ‘hits’ in a mentalism routine: one subtlety I have learned is that the more you make your persona/character appear to have the supernatural powers, the more the spectator ‘looks around’ the performance to find the gimmick/answer, and the more critical escalating the ‘hits’ will be…however, if you use your banter to set up the spectator as though THEY have the supernatural powers (through their selections, or whatever), they get more excited with each hit, even when the second one may be lower impact than the first—they don’t care because they are too busy being amazed with themselves, haha. It’s been a very forgiving format to use for me, so I wanted to pass it along. Please keep posts like this coming—Thanks for all your hard work!

David Farr

David Farr

Interesting points being made here. Please continue with these posts. I find them valuable.

David Manikad

David Manikad

Such an insightful and educational post! Thank you!

Jakob Michaels

Jakob Michaels

Thissss slaps

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