Fool(s) Us!

January 11, 2011
Average read time 2 min’s 20 Seconds

I have had a few emails from some very angry/frustrated mentalists. Upset by the level of exposure of Mentalism on Penn and Tellers Fool Us T.V Show. It seams that there are a lot of mentalists that think it’s unfair that Penn and Teller used ‘code words’ and hidden diagrams to keep the secrets of magic but actively revealed Mentalism secrets.

This is just one such example email I received: The ironic thing about the show is that Penn said that they wanted to regain the wonder of being fooled. Then they went on the show and explained that: “it was a trick with a gimmicked deck of cards and the rest of it was Bullshit!” Thus ruining the wonder for millions of viewers!

There will always be people who like to spoil other people’s enjoyment of magic! I know of someone who told a 6 year old that there is no such thing as magic! I wondered if they also told them there is no Easter bunny, tooth fairy or Father Christmas!

The best thing for us to do is focus all of our energy creating unexplainable memories for people. Lets blur the lines between fantasy and reality even more! People believe what they experience. When I perform a coin bending routine, I use my skills as a performer and knowledge of hypnosis to stick their hand together before I let them open their hand to find a bent coin.

This is easy to perform it’s something a stage hypnotist will do to hundreds or thousands of people at a time (to people they can’t even see!). It’s easy but it adds so much to the performance. Sticking someone hands together or to the table is irrefutable proof that it wasn’t ‘up his sleeve’ or ‘a magic pack or cards’, it’ real, it’s amazing and it helps to blur the lines of reality and fantasy.

In other routines I have people’s fingers move apparently without their conscious ability to stop them before they close their eyes and allow an image to drift/float/fly etc. into their awareness.

When I have people forget their own name, after speaking to them for 30 seconds, it’s shocking. It amazes people and that’s our job, right?

Derren Brown performed the hypnotic plank effect, and when I saw the show the audience went wild for this bit. Because it’s obviously real. When someone can’t remember their name, move their hands or they become stuck to the spot, it’s because ‘real magic’ is happening.

Rather than getting upset or frustrated I think it better to concentrate on becoming better! Check out my post Some Real Magic Words for some real magic words that help you create simple genuine hypnotic phenomena. It’s time once again to update our art and take it to new levels!


  • Bill Edmondson says:

    Great article; I agree whole heartedly. Why spoil it for others? Didn’t we have that sense of wonder at one time as well?

  • Jason says:

    Tushay, I agree that it is best to focus our attention towards developing more inspiring and “real” magic. It’s supposed to be about the exp, and not the actual effect.

    Those who had complaints about the exposure of mentalism and magic forget that what’s being taught. Does not necessarily destroy the art behind it, if anything it can be a stepping-stone for others to improve upon it and even perhaps, create something better if not entirely new.

  • Buck Pettry CHT says:

    I also agree…Penn makes me ill. I expect little from him. So I suppose I am not really shocked by his antics.

  • Jess says:

    I think it matters not a jot what Penn and Teller say. Look at what they have done to other fields, from the kooky to the downright charlatan… People still watch TV shows with psychics, Evangelicals still make fortunes and so forth… Even snake eaters in less developed places still make a good living even when their work is constantly debunked and shouted down.

    P&T are right for cards— the deck IS rigged and the rest IS bullshit. So? The element of showmanship is what counts and what people love most. No mentalist will ever lose a job over this, let alone an audience when they start performing… the operative word being PERFORMING!

    To all the cranky mentalists out there, chill out you stuffed shirt prigs… Think back to what it was that got you interested in the field enough in the first place— find that same magic that made you spend your life walking around with cards in your pockets at all times and constantly going into dodgey magic shops with plastic horror masks and tinsel.

    That is the real magic my friends… and the rest is total bull.

  • John Vincent says:

    Hi Guys,

    Many thanks for the comments… So is seems that Penn and Teller have touched a nerve again…

    427 years ago the discovery of witchcraft was first published complete with its chapter exposing the magicians sleight-of-hand. I’m sure all the magicians on the corporate and wedding circuit were shaking in their boots, but it didn’t change much (apart from saving a few magicians from being burnt at the stake maybe!) it seems that magicians have continued to use the same sleights since. While also using them in new ways.

    This is our opportunity to be creative…

  • Roland says:

    The Show was great, much better then the BBC show. If they make a whole series of this the layman will still be none the wiser, because they forget so quickly.
    Its nothing to worry about, it happens and it will always happen. I agree let look forward to what we can do, not what happened that we didn’t like.