Monthly archives for June, 2011

New Product Teases and REVIEW: Appearing, Floating Microphone Stand

Hi all,

This week has been extremely exciting as the time off from the road has done wonders for my health. Most of my gigs the last couple of weeks have been local gigs, within a couple hours’ drive, so that makes my life easier.:)

As I mentioned last week, I’ve got a few more products in the works. The first is a complete, scripted, show-in-a-box for the corporate market that nets me a LOT of money each year. The course will come with a full script, alternate trick ideas, marketing materials including fliers, what to say when the client calls and much more. This is my baby, my pride and joy.

The second product will be “Cause & Effects Volume 3″ in which I share my presentations for classics of magic such as Silk to Egg, Snowstorm and many others. These routines are what I use to make my living so I know they work. Feedback on the first two volumes has been very, very positive!

The third product will be all about producing quality demo videos right in your own home without any fancy equipment. Sure, the software for computers is out there, but over the years I’ve distilled the formula down to a few simple essentials. By using this format, I guarantee you WILL book more shows.

The products are still being written, but if you want any questions answered, I’ll try my best.:) Email me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net. My free monthy ezine, “Cause & Effects” is still ongoing – sign up free by emailing me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Oh one more thing – I’m REALLY super-psyched about my friend Paul Romhany’s new series of routine booklets devoted to classics of magic such as the Half_dyed Hank. Paul’s thinking is always top-notch and I’m counting the days til the books are released…

Onto this week’s review…It’s the Appearing, Floating Microphone Stand. It retails for $99.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=4384

EFFECT: The Magician strolls onstage with a small lunch sack. He looks inside as if to find something magical. Sprinkle a little bit of glitter into the bag, immediately a microphone pole emerges from within. It seems to take on a life of it’s own as it grows and grows. This looks like pure magic, but it is only just the beginning of the magic that soon takes place.

The magician looks out into the crowd, hands the bag to a spectator to hold, and then continues pulling about three more feet of the microphone stand out of the bag! If that wasn’t enough, it doesn’t end there:

The magician removes the entire staff from the paper bag, yet it appears to be way too tall. The magician comments that the mic stand may be fine for Wilt Chamberlin, but unfortunately it won’t work too well for someone like him. Mystically and slowly as the magician taps on the mic clip, the pole begins to shrink while remaining in full view! Down it goes. Now, the magician plugs it into the base that is under the scarf on the floor. Now for the most amazing part:

The microphone stand seems to take on a life of it’s own as it floats and bobs and tries to get away, but it is no match for the magician’s skill as it eventually obeys his commands and comes to rest gently on the floor to a well deserved applause!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: The floating / growing mic stand, the base, foulard, and floating gimmick, along with a few pages of written instructions that include blurry black and white photos.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: The written instructions are not bad, but the blurry photos are quite bad as occasionally its tough to judge what in the world you’re looking at. These instructions are for me at least proof that, contrary to what many magicians think, learning from the written word is not the “best” way to learn. Some folks out there may put out a decent product yet lack the writing skills (and photography skills) to put together a set of written instructions. They are OK…but the order of pages and layout made for a frustrating experience.

QUALITY OF PROPS: Here’s where I have a BIG problem. When I opened up my package and after I read the instructions, a key piece was missing, namely the ‘gimmick’ that enables the pole to stay in the base after the growing business. OK, I’ll just say it…the magnet was missing. That’s not good.

Next, the way the effect works relies on a certain kind of gimmick being inserted into the side of the pole, in two holes. I won’t reveal the gimmick, but it’s based on an old, classic, highly reliable principle, so no complaints there. The problem with my appearing pole(s) is that there were no holes, meaning I had to cut holes into my own gimmicks. Very bad indeed.

Fortunately, the good folks at Hocus Pocus immediately got me the parts I needed, so their stellar customer service still rocks.

Finally, the last problem with this effect is that the microphone clip is too small to hold a standard wireless handheld mic. I’m a hypnotist and I own a Shure SM58, which is pretty much the industry standard / workhorse and the clip on my mic stand prop would’ve snapped right in half if I tried forcing my mic in to the clip. I checked and there are some wired mics that probably would’ve fit, but to float a mic stand with a wired mic on it would be cumbersome at best. Once again not good…and there’s no way to swap out clips from the prop without ruining it.

On the plus side, the floating gimmick was well-made and crafted to blend in well with the black foulard, which is also of good quality, though perhaps a little small.

ANGLES: If you’re familiar with other floating effects of this type, (and you know what I mean…) you’ll be aware that the angles are pretty good. The effect will look good from the front and sides (if you’re careful with the sides) but the rear view is a big no-no.

THE WORKINGS OF THE EFFECT: Realistically, the only effect this prop is really good for is either making it appear out of the bag OR making it float. I feel that to do both is not really feasible. Why? Well, if you’re familiar with Appearing Poles, you have an idea of how the ‘appearing’ part works. You also know that as the prop ‘appears’ there is some sliding going on.

When the ‘appearance’ part is over, the two holes to accept the floating gimmick will probably not line up.

Despite all of the flaws, the floating itself really does look magical. I feel the best way to present this is JUST as a floating mic stand and if you can find a wired mic (or at least a realistic looking toy) that will fit into the clip, having the prop set up at the beginning of the show will look very innocent from a slight distance.

Oh, and that business in the ad copy that talks about “shrinking” the stand in full view of the audience by tapping the clip? Due to the shoddy nature of the poles’ construction (especially around the ends) no way in the world will that fly by an audience.

MY RATING: As far as doing everything as described in the ad, I would say this is an abysmal failure. If you are JUST floating this, it does look good, the working is pretty easy and it looks magical. However, due to the horrendus number of mistakes with my unit along with the poor instructions and the general shoddy nature of the construction, I can really only give this a 4 out of 10. I don;t feel this will hold up over the long haul for the working pro. I’d recommend saving up and buying a Don Wayne Floating Mic Stand (if they’re still available) and there’s more you can do with the floating part of the effect.

NEXT WEEK: 21st Century Phantom by Oz Pearlman

Best,

Cris Johnson

Crappy Phone Practices and REVIEW: Sugar Rush by Scott Alexander

Whew, another week just flew by! This time of year each year sees my business shying away from magic and doing more hypnosis shows as I do a lot of high school events. I also am traveling less this time of year, doing more local stuff, so my stress levels have gone down…except for one thing!

I don’t know how things are in other countries, but here in the US, we have a thing called “do not call lists” we can sign up for which keeps most telemarketers from pestering us at home. Well, most callers EXCEPT for political calls!

I am used to these calls and I hate them, but one this week hit a new low. I saw on my caller ID that it was one of those automated companies where they call your house with a message or request to partake in a poll (no live person so I can’t even scream, “DON’T CALL ME ANYMORE!”)

Anyway, I recognize the number and answer because if I don’t they KEEP CALLING. So I pick up and a recorded voice says, “All of our representatives are busy. Please wait.”

WTF????

So…you call me unsolicited and then YOU ask me to wait??? Unreal!!!

On a positive note, I am currently working on several new products, one of which I plan on releasing by the end of July. I may even take pre-orders on it. Essentially it’s going to be a complete “show in a box” for my corporate work where I routinely book out at $2495.00. This has been a real winner for me because NO ONE else is doing ANYTHING like this as far as I can tell. Details to follow…

Anyway, onto this week’s review: Sugar Rush by Scott Alexander. It’s available for $349.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=18012

EFFECT: The routine starts with Scott displaying a typical sugar packet. The sugar packet is torn open and the contents are poured into his hand. Whoosh…the sugar has vanished. We know, vanishing a small amount of sugar is not a big deal.

The power of the routine is the amount of “sugar” that is produced during the production. From empty hands streams of sugar pour forth! What we’re going for is a classic magician in trouble plot. Think of Mickey Mouse in the Disney cartoon “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. Mickey loses control of the brooms and water buckets. Sugar Rush is the same. Scott apparently loses control over the sugar. Once it starts pouring he can’t stop it. The pour lasts for exactly 2 minutes. Very funny stuff.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: A very detailed instructional DVD which covers some of the history of the salt pour, a live cruise ship performance, Scott’s handling, Bob Kohler’s handling, music ideas, acting tips and much more.

You also receive a salt pour gimmick based on the Pressley Guitar gimmick with the modifications Bob mentions in the ad copy.

You also receive a generous supply of the mysterious secondary gimmick Bob mentions in the ad.

THE REVIEW: As I’ve said before, Bob Kohler makes the best instructional DVDs ion magic today, bar none. (L&L is very close, but you still have to put up with the annoying over-acting of their “audiences.”)

Scott & Bob talk briefly about the history of the effect. They don’t go nearly in depth on the history as Levent does on his salt pour DVD, but that’s OK – many of us are workers…we respect history but we do not need the entire history spelled out when learning a new effect.

What’s interesting is that this is the first DVD I’ve got from Kohler in which he himself teaches his handling. Scott also teaches his handling and the two are quite a bit different from each other, allowing users to determine what works best for them. (I myself have been working with the handlings for a week straight and I’ve combined aspects of both along with a tweak of my own.)

The main salt gimmick itself is wonderfully built out of aluminum and colored black, as Bob feels it’s best as flashes of the gimmick will look like a shadow. Since I wear a black jacket when I perform, this makes sense to me.

The one disadvantage is the metal construction makes it impossible to see visually how much salt is left in your gimmick, so you’ll need to time it out when routining.

The mysterious second gimmick(s) are what allows you to continually produce streams of salt. It’s a gimmick that will deplete over time and need to be replaced – no worries, as it’s readily available nearly anywhere for pennies per gimmick.

It’s a wonderfully low-tech solution to making the salt pour as long as you want…with this method, you could do a 30-minute salt pour if you wanted, not that I’m recommending it!

The music Scott has selected I feel is good, but more intended for an adult audience in that it references an older song. I don’t know if it would work for a family show as the music will not appeal to kids but Scott talks about other options.

The BIGGEST teaching concept on the DVD that I love is Scott’s talk on the subject of acting and in particular, a simple acting technique he uses for this effect that you can apply to ANY silent effect…or any effect, for that matter. It’s a cliche, but this one tip is worth the price of the package.

Another bonus: Scott tips where to get popcorn salt online very cheaply as the popcorn salt in stores is very expensive. (Popcorn salt flows better and you can use more of it in any gimmick).

HANDLING: Neither handling is very difficult and I was able to competently perform the moves after a few hours of practice…and I’m not a techie guy when it comes to moves (no farrow shuffle for me!). Over the course of this past week, I’ve gotten more comfortable with it and now need to practice with salt.:)

I’d say the handling difficulty is around a 3 or 4 – within reach of anyone with practice.

FURTHER THOUGHTS: Some readers may wonder why I bought this when I reviewed Levent’s salt pour gimmick and DVD a few months ago…the answer is, I’m addicted to Bob Kohler’s releases! Everything I’ve bought from him is gold. Scott Alexander has a great knack for taking a classic of magic and adding a unique spin on it. With Sugar Rush I think the overall effect is greatly enhanced because in the traditional salt pour routines, you vanish some salt out of a shaker and cause the same amount of salt to reappear in a pour. With Sugar Rush, you’re vanishing a tiny packet of “sugar” and then causing many times more “sugar” to reappear. To me, that’s a stronger effect.

I still like Levent’s gimmick and actually plan on incorporating it into my own interpretation of Sugar Rush.

RATING: As with everything I’ve picked up from Kohler Productions, I love this. Plus, Bob is prompt with any customer service questions, making him a joy to work with. It gets a perfect 10 out of 10 from me.

NEXT WEEK: Growing / Floating Mic Stand

Best,

Cris Johnson

New Salon, Old Magic, Great Technology and REVIEW: Triangle of Terror and If Ever A Wiz There Was by Keith Fields

Hey everybody,

It seems that my Dr. Nick ripoff has turned into my standard greeting.:) After most of a week off from traveling, I’m feeling a lot better. Right now I’m in Portland, OR writing this which should be the only gigs I have to travel to by plane til August. The rest of my gig up to then are all local – within a few hours’ drive, which means I get to sleep in my own bed at night – this is a good thing.:)

Our new salon has been open for a few weeks now and the feedback from my wife’s clients has been tremendous. They love the look of the place and many have told her they like it much better than the previous salon she worked in. This is really gratifying, as we spent $10,000 in salon equipment, new flooring, paint and signage to really make the place look great.

On the hypno-front, I’ve spent the last couple of days in my hotel recording new weight loss and smoking cessation audio CDs as part of my clinical hypnosis business that I will also be running out of the salon. Technology is a wonderful thing, as I’m using my laptop for things I would’ve had to paid several hundred dollars for in a studio years ago!

Finally, before we get to the reviews, I have updated my ‘for sale’ list of magic goodies. A few things have sold and I’m adding a few things this week. Email me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net. Here’s the updated list as of June 11 so far:

TRICK: yigal mesika exploding light bulb
DVD: Thread by Wayne Houchin
DVD: Gallerian Bend DVD by Erick Castle
TRICK: A Touch Of Glass by Peter Loughran
BOOK: The Magic Business by Michael Baily
TRICK: Fate? by Rick Maue
BOOK: The Corporate Connection by Phil Kannon & Jon Jenson
DVD: Torn by Daniel Garcia
TRICK: Floating and Growing Microphone Stand – as performed on America’s Got Talent(I lost the instructions but will write up some for you….besides, the ones that came with it SUCKED.)

As I said last week, most of this stuff is really good, but just didn’t fit into my vision of what I wanted from my shows. In a few days, I’m putting this stuff on Ebay to get it out of my office, so if anything interests you, move fast. No reasonable offer refused.:)

This week’s review: It’s a two-parter! Keith Field’s Triangle of Terror and book If a Wiz There Ever Was. Both are $35.00 each and available from Hocus Pocus.

First, Triangle of Terror. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=17697

EFFECT: In Keith’s book ‘IF Ever A Wiz There Was’ is a routine which requires a wooden pool triangle attached to swivel and a leash.

A cup is placed on the triangle and filled with water, it is then whirled around and around in a vertical circle!

You then change direction and whirl it around your head. The water stays in the cup but the audience will be riveted to their seats!

A fantastic effect which will keep them talking. Great for school science shows as this is an example of centripetal force in action!

WHAT YOU GET: The wooden triangle with a length of nylon strap mounted to it. This is similar material as a thick dog leash. You also receive a few pages of instructions and some other fliers and such pushing some of Fields’ other offerings.

DIFFICULTY: The effect is not difficult to do. It really comes down to just ‘going for it’ as Keith says in the instructions. As it’s a demonstration of centrivical force, it’s not really a magic trick, but it is a cool stunt.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: The instruction is sparse, but barely adequate. In fairness to Keith, this really is something you have to ‘do’ so extensive instruction is not needed. I do like the fact that he includes a youtube link in the instructions. More on that when I get to the book.

ANGLES: None to worry about as there is nothing to ‘hide,’ but the biggest consideration is the fact that you do NOT want to do this in someone’s home as all that swinging would make anyone nervous. This is a good routine for stage or outdoors.

QUALITY OF PROP: The wooden triangle is very nice as is the strap mounted to it. I could have made one myself after reading his book and after I received his prop I probably should have, even though I do not like building my own props.

The prop is well built in that it looks professional and has the look of quality and should not fall apart anytime. However, when I bagan rehearsals (in my better judgement, in a hotel room when I was on the road recently for gigs) I found that after roughly 10 or so rehearsals (totalling around 10-12 minutes) I developed a MASSIVE blister on my first finger of my right hand, near the middle knuckle. This spot corresponds directly to where the strap was rubbing against my finger as the triangle with cup of water swung around.

After realizing what happened, I immediately stopped what I was doing. Fortunately, I already have a good handle on performing this and other than my script, I’m ready to go.

When reading Keith’s book, he mentions using a length of chain to attach to the triangle. I can only imagine that using the nylon dog leash material was cheaper, but that’s just a guess.

I also have no idea if a chain would produce the same result. My guess is probably not, but who knows?

FINAL RATING: A good, solid effect that would be a worthy addition to any family performer and I can see this being a no-brainer for a science show, too. It’s not a show closer, in my view, and the fact that it gives me blisters is annoying as hell. I’ll use it, but am still bothered by the blister aspect. 7 out of 10.

The second review…If Ever A Wiz There Was book by Keith Fields. Here’s the ad link:http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=17698

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: A slim book outlining Keith Fields’ thoughts on children’s entertaining along with his favorite kids’ routines.

QUICK INTERJECTION: Before I get further into this review, I do know that Keith Fields has a stellar reputation for putting out both quality kids’ stuff as well as mentalism, including one of the most respected book tests created, Insight. So he is an example of someone who can do both mentalism and magic quite well. I myself got bashed on the Cafe because a couple of years ago, I put out a Q & A package and many people googled me, found out that I was primarily a school show guy, and just bashed me and my product without ever having looked at it, feeling that since I was a school guy (younger grades) then I couldn’t be any good at mentalism. Unbelievable close-mindedness of people out there.

MY THOUGHTS: Since this is a book without props being sold, I’ll skip right to my thoughts, which are extensive. There were many, many things I enjoyed about this book and some things I did not.

First, the good…

I loved Fields’ thoughts on character, costuming and creating a show with minimal or no set-up. Although I consciously choose not to go this route of packing small when I perform, part of me is extremely envious of other magicians because when I’m busy, I feel like I’ve WORKED.:)

Secondly, there were many bits of business I enjoyed from the book, in particular the way he opens many of his shows and a great bit with his hat.

I also really, really enjoyed his Youtube links. While he describes most of the routines in the book adequately, he also went the extra step by providing Youtube links so you could see what the moves or routines was supposed to look like.

To me, this represents a huge step forward in magic books. There are some people who love learning from books and other who learn best visually. Despite what some small-minded people would say, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to learn. It’s part of each person’s individuality. Well, Fields’ innovation with this book gives you the best of both worlds. Kudos to him!

Of the routines included, many stood out as being quality routines worthy of consideration. In particular, he completely explains how to build the props for his Human Xylophone routine, along with tips, strategies and instructions not only on running the routine but also several songs and ideas as well. His Human Xylophone routine, although not magic, is a fantastic routine to interact with the audience. In fact, this section was easily worth the price of the book.

He offers readers a fun way to end a typical “Run, Rabbit Run” which I thought was exceedingly clever and almost made me want to buy one.:)

His Triangle of Terror is also explained and I feel this routine, too, is a true highlight of the book, especially he explains how to make it for those who don’t mind building their own props.

He also offer a dove pan routine that he uses to close many of his shows. Here is evidence that Fields knows how to entertain lay people and in particular, kids. Many armchair magicians deride those who use dove pans as rubbish, stating in a very snotty fashion that the dove pan’s day has past, why can’t there be more originality in magic, etc.

Those of us who work in the real world know that dove pans are still a great production apparatus. Rant over.:)

The other routines are also good – a multiplying balls/sponge ball routine, coin routine, more non-magical but entertaining ‘clowning’ for lack of a better word and more. In particular, I’ve been using a variation of his “Getting Dressed” routine in my child care center shows for years, taught to me by Dave Risley. It’s a great routine and very entertaining for very young children.

OK, now on to what I did not care for in the book…

There were two instances in the book where he crosses the line (in my view) in terms of humor. In one, he is encouraging kids to repeat what he says says and encourages his audience to say, at one point, “SMACK MY BUM,” while pointing to his butt.

In truth, I find it all silly and inoffensive, but unfortunately, we now live in a society where a gag like this can and will severely upset a client. I know this is true because I had to drop one of the funniest bits from Bill Abbott’s Chico routine because a couple of teachers at a couple of schools complained.)

The second bit is where he’s sticking blown-up balloons at various places on a child – under the arms, under the chin, etc – and then he asks, “Where should I stick the other one?” He explains that he knows that many kids will shout, “Between the legs!” which is once again one of those bits that was OK 10 years ago but not now. Again, I’m OK with it, but seeing as how I’m out in the trenches, so to speak, day in and day out, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that a bit like this one or the previous one will very much upset some clients. It’s a fact, at least here in the US.

The other aspect of the book I did not care for was the fact that in the vast majority of the book, Fields’ routines consist of him asking questions of the audience as a whole. Some times he asks questions in a way to encourage the correct answer and many times he’s asking questions he know will get kids to shout and correct him, things like, “Do my socks go on my head?” Kids shout “NO!” (That wasn’t a quote from the book, just an example.)

Fields defends this by saying he wants the show to be as interactive as possible. This, I applaud, but the reality is by taking this approach, asking questions and having kids shout things back to you son often in a show, it can lead to losing control and having kids shouting things without provocation. Remember the old saying about “giving a foot, taking a mile,” or however it’s worded?

In my opinion, a proper way to routine a show is alternating, as much as possible, an interactive trick with a ‘quiet’ trick, so the show has an ebb and flow, structured in a way to get the kids settled down before bringing them right back up again.

But that’s just me.

All in all, there is a lot of good stuff in this book. Despite the quibbles I had, I do like it and can recommend it. A solid 7.5 out of 10.

NEXT WEEK: Sugar Rush by Scott Alexander

Until next time, send any questions to: crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net

Best,

Cris

Used Stuff For Sale and REVIEW: Paul Romhany’s Personality Readings Plus Book Test

Hey everyone,

Cris Johnson here, back & regaining strength every day. It’s funny…I’ve been told by a few other pros over the years that being in good health is one of the necessities of a busy magician and that’s certainly true in my case!

Before I get to this week’s review, I wanted to let you know that I’m looking to (further) clear stuff out of my office that I no longer use. It’s good stuff, it just did not fit my shows. The (incomplete) list is as follows:

TRICK: yigal mesika exploding light bulb
BOOK: Prisms by Max Maven
BOOK: Theater of The Mind by Barrie Richardson
DVD: Thread by Wayne Houchin
TRICK: (closeup) CTRL+ALT+DELETE by Bill Abbott
DVD: Gallerian Bend DVD by Erick Castle
TRICK: A Touch Of Glass by Peter Loughran
BOOK: The Magic Business by Michael Baily
TRICK: Fate? by Rick Maue
BOOK: The Corporate Connection by Phil Kannon & Jon Jenson

I really like all of this stuff, but for one reason or another the items just did not make it into my show(s) and rather than live in a congested office, I’ve decided to clear out some stuff, with possibly more stuff to follow. If anything from the above listed interests you, shoot me an email to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net with an offer.

Onto this week’s review…Paul Romhany’s Personality Readings Plus Book Test. It’s available from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=18063

THE EFFECT: Twelve years ago Paul Romhany and Ken Ring started work on giving personality readings by the way people laugh and speak. Their research, and work in this field has lead to the publication of “How To Tell Anybody’s Personality By They Way They Laugh And Speak.”

This book opens up new doors for every mentalist and magician who wants to include a fresh approach to giving peronsality readings. The book dissects the various types of laughter and speech patterns, and how to give readings.

Romhany now themes his entire one man mentalism show around people’s laughter and speech patterns, and for the first time the COMPLETE package is available to the magic fraternity. You will learn how to incorporate this in your act as well as give readings on people’s laughter and speech.

PLUS …. THE BOOK TEST COMPLETE ACT
Over the years Paul has themed his mentalism show, and humor workshops around this presentation. By adding humor in his mentalism show he is able to give personality readings, as well as adapt it to mentalism routines. The original book not only teaches you the techniques of giving readings, it also has some special features that will allow you to do a full twelve minute book test routine.

BONUS BOOKS- also included is a gimmick joke book called Laughter in the Workplace Joke Book. This works in conjunction with the original book and provides additional routines as well as a special crib built in to the book. This is also designed to perform Paul’s Stand-Up Word routine involving five members of the audience – an act within itself!

PLUS Also included is the instruction book which includes the following routines that can be performed with this book test.

1) The Forced Words
2) Between The Lines – Paul has taken Anneman’s basic routine and built in to the original personality book a special Drawing Duplication routine.
3) The Crib – using the joke book you have a built in crib used in conjunction with the original Personality book.
4) Stand Up Book Test – Paul’s favorite routine involving five members of the audience and the book.
5) Two Person Routine – A great prediction routine using a husband and wife who think they know each other’s laughter personality
6) Other ideas using the personality theme for mentalism performances.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE:

How To Tell Anybody’s Personality By The Way They Laugh and Speak – The book that teaches you everything you need to know about giving personality readings on laughter and speech. This book also contains some secret gimmicks that will enable you to do part of the 12 minute book test act. 224 pages

Laughter in the Workplace Joke Book – A gimmick book that works in conjunction with the Personality book, and enables several different routines. 333 pages

Instruction book – Explains everything you need to know to perform the 12 minute book test act. Perform all of the routines or use in conjunction with other routines.

All three books are softcover and beautifully produced. The Personality book, in particular, looks fantastic as it is (and continues to be) an actual book that is sold in stores. This means you’re getting a package that looks and feels like quality – for a professional, a quality prop is a good thing…yes I know, props do not make the performer, but a good performer can certainly lower the perception of his/her act by using sub-par props!

Paul has even taken the care to produce the instruction in the same professional manner, and a small touch like that goes a long way with me!

MY THOUGHTS: I think this is fantastic. It’s no secret that I love everything that I’ve bought from Paul and this is no different. One of the main reasons why I like this so much is the fact that the two books used in the performance actually focus, as part of the presentation, not only on the thoughts read (ie word or passage is read by a spectator and the “mojo guy” reads their mind) but ALSO the actual subject matter of the book is important to the routine and your entire show (if you’re like Paul, who has wrapped the subject matter of the books around his entire mentalism show.)

This is also why I feel the holy grail of book tests, the Mother of All Book Tests, is slightly overrated – the text of the book means nothing. It’s completely random. Even if you throw a book jacket on MOAB, it’s not like you can incorporate passages into the presentation that have any significance.

Another thing to admire about this is the fact that the spectator can read the Personality book from cover to cover and will never hot upon ‘the secrets.’ This is a huge advantage over the book test that has been my favorite for the past few years – The Shakespeare Experiment…great book, but your spectator management skills need to be up to snuff!

Yet another thing to consider – the subject matter of the book lends itself well to incorporating it into your act for those high dollar corporate gigs that many magicians strive for. Whether a keynote, workshop or sales meeting, the subject matter of the book, deducing someone’s personality, is of key relevance to corporate groups.

I’m only part way into actually reading the Personality book in terms of the actual content and so far, I’m extremely impressed. As a hypnotist and NLP guy, I can say that this information is right on target in terms of “decoding” the complex human behaviors. Great, great stuff.

The knowledge I know I’ll get from this (aside from the trick aspect) will give me a ton of material to work with, from the aforementioned workshops to actually making my clinical work easier in hypnosis, because the more I can glean of a person’s personality, the better I will be able to work with that client! Pretty far reaching stuff for a book test!

Oh, and while the Joke Book is a key to the ‘workings’ of some of the handlings (Paul provides several), it too is funny as hell. In particular I enjoyed the answering machine messages!

THE WORKING: OK, so I’ve raved about this package in terms of concept. What about the workings? Well, since Paul provides the purchaser with SEVERAL different ways of snuffing out what the spectator has chosen from the book (different handlings, some are forces, some are free choices) I can safely say that there is definitely something in here for everyone…there’s drawing dupes, offshoots of the Hoy principal, clever forces, cribs, and on and on.

Honestly, I was super relieved when I realized how many choices Pail provided, as I remember reading on one of those dreadful forums (so much negativity!) that a book test called The Master Key was trashed because it provided too many choices in terms of ‘the working.’ I felt this was hogwash – different performers have different tastes and having choices is a good thing.

The workings are all on the technically easy side – no memorization necessary, although if you enjoy memorizing, you can certainly dispense with the crib.

An important note – for the most part, the workings are based on tried-and-true methods. If you’re looking for the latest breakthrough in terms of method, you’ll not find it here. This package is designed for the worker, and I feel very relieved knowing that not only did Paul build his book test on the solid foundation of proven methods but he made sure the book was readable from cover to cover – no ‘gobbleygook’ here!

ANGLES: This being a book test(s), there are no angle considerations that I noticed, meaning you can do this in a house party surrounded – a situation I’ve found myself in a few times over the years when entertaining adults!

THE FINAL RATING: It’s not going to surprise many readers to know that I’m giving this a 10 out of 10. Paul’s my friend, so occasionally I sometimes feel a pang inside my mind of “Should I give Paul’s latest product a lower score simply because I’m friends with the guy and I need to be ‘believable?’” But it’s impossible. Book tests are one of those ‘standard’ items where new versions pop up all the time and with very few exceptions are any of them worth consideration. Paul’s latest offering is stellar and for the working pro, an incredible bargain.

NEXT WEEK: The Triangle of Terror by Keith Fields

Best,

Cris Johnson

Used Stuff For Sale and REVIEW: Paul Romhany’s Personality Readings Plus Book Test

Hey everyone,

Cris Johnson here, back & regaining strength every day. It’s funny…I’ve been told by a few other pros over the years that being in good health is one of the necessities of a busy magician and that’s certainly true in my case!

Before I get to this week’s review, I wanted to let you know that I’m looking to (further) clear stuff out of my office that I no longer use. It’s good stuff, it just does not appeal to me. The (incomplete) list is as follows:

TRICK: yigal mesika exploding light bulb
BOOK: Prisms by Max Maven
BOOK: Theater of The Mind by Barrie Richardson
DVD: Thread by Wayne Houchin
TRICK: (closeup) CTRL+ALT+DELETE by Bill Abbott
DVD: Gallerian Bend DVD by Erick Castle
TRICK: A Touch Of Glass by Peter Loughran
BOOK: The Magic Business by Michael Baily
TRICK: Fate? by Rick Maue
BOOK: The Corporate Connection by Phil Kannon & Jon Jenson

I really like all of this stuff, but for one reason or another the items just did not make it into my show(s) and rather than live in a congested office, I’ve decided to clear out some stuff, with possibly more stuff to follow. If anything from the above listed interests you, shoot me an email to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net with an offer.

Onto this week’s review…Paul Romhany’s Personality Readings Plus Book Test. It’s available from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=18063

THE EFFECT: Twelve years ago Paul Romhany and Ken Ring started work on giving personality readings by the way people laugh and speak. Their research, and work in this field has lead to the publication of “How To Tell Anybody’s Personality By They Way They Laugh And Speak.”

This book opens up new doors for every mentalist and magician who wants to include a fresh approach to giving peronsality readings. The book dissects the various types of laughter and speech patterns, and how to give readings.

Romhany now themes his entire one man mentalism show around people’s laughter and speech patterns, and for the first time the COMPLETE package is available to the magic fraternity. You will learn how to incorporate this in your act as well as give readings on people’s laughter and speech.

PLUS …. THE BOOK TEST COMPLETE ACT
Over the years Paul has themed his mentalism show, and humor workshops around this presentation. By adding humor in his mentalism show he is able to give personality readings, as well as adapt it to mentalism routines. The original book not only teaches you the techniques of giving readings, it also has some special features that will allow you to do a full twelve minute book test routine.

BONUS BOOKS- also included is a gimmick joke book called Laughter in the Workplace Joke Book. This works in conjunction with the original book and provides additional routines as well as a special crib built in to the book. This is also designed to perform Paul’s Stand-Up Word routine involving five members of the audience – an act within itself!

PLUS Also included is the instruction book which includes the following routines that can be performed with this book test.

1) The Forced Words
2) Between The Lines – Paul has taken Anneman’s basic routine and built in to the original personality book a special Drawing Duplication routine.
3) The Crib – using the joke book you have a built in crib used in conjunction with the original Personality book.
4) Stand Up Book Test – Paul’s favorite routine involving five members of the audience and the book.
5) Two Person Routine – A great prediction routine using a husband and wife who think they know each other’s laughter personality
6) Other ideas using the personality theme for mentalism performances.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE:

How To Tell Anybody’s Personality By The Way They Laugh and Speak – The book that teaches you everything you need to know about giving personality readings on laughter and speech. This book also contains some secret gimmicks that will enable you to do part of the 12 minute book test act. 224 pages

Laughter in the Workplace Joke Book – A gimmick book that works in conjunction with the Personality book, and enables several different routines. 333 pages

Instruction book – Explains everything you need to know to perform the 12 minute book test act. Perform all of the routines or use in conjunction with other routines.

All three books are softcover and beautifully produced. The Personality book, in particular, looks fantastic as it is (and continues to be) an actual book that is sold in stores. This means you’re getting a package that looks and feels like quality – for a professional, a quality prop is a good thing…yes I know, props do not make the performer, but a good performer can certainly lower the perception of his/her act by using sub-par props!

Paul has even taken the care to produce the instruction in the same professional manner, and a small touch like that goes a long way with me!

MY THOUGHTS: I think this is fantastic. It’s no secret that I love everything that I’ve bought from Paul and this is no different. One of the main reasons why I like this so much is the fact that the two books used in the performance actually focus, as part of the presentation, not only on the thoughts read (ie word or passage is read by a spectator and the “mojo guy” reads their mind) but ALSO the actual subject matter of the book is important to the routine and your entire show (if you’re like Paul, who has wrapped the subject matter of the books around his entire mentalism show.)

This is also why I feel the holy grail of book tests, the Mother of All Book Tests, is slightly overrated – the text of the book means nothing. It’s completely random. Even if you throw a book jacket on MOAB, it’s not like you can incorporate passages into the presentation that have any significance.

Another thing to admire about this is the fact that the spectator can read the Personality book from cover to cover and will never hot upon ‘the secrets.’ This is a huge advantage over the book test that has been my favorite for the past few years – The Shakespeare Experiment…great book, but your spectator management skills need to be up to snuff!

Yet another thing to consider – the subject matter of the book lends itself well to incorporating it into your act for those high dollar corporate gigs that many magicians strive for. Whether a keynote, workshop or sales meeting, the subject matter of the book, deducing someone’s personality, is of key relevance to corporate groups.

I’m only part way into actually reading the Personality book in terms of the actual content and so far, I’m extremely impressed. As a hypnotist and NLP guy, I can say that this information is right on target in terms of “decoding” the complex human behaviors. Great, great stuff.

The knowledge I know I’ll get from this (aside from the trick aspect) will give me a ton of material to work with, from the aforementioned workshops to actually making my clinical work easier in hypnosis, because the more I can glean of a person’s personality, the better I will be able to work with that client! Pretty far reaching stuff for a book test!

Oh, and while the Joke Book is a key to the ‘workings’ of some of the handlings (Paul provides several), it too is funny as hell. In particular I enjoyed the answering machine messages!

THE WORKING: OK, so I’ve raved about this package in terms of concept. What about the workings? Well, since Paul provides the purchaser with SEVERAL different ways of snuffing out what the spectator has chosen from the book (different handlings, some are forces, some are free choices) I can safely say that there is definitely something in here for everyone…there’s drawing dupes, offshoots of the Hoy principal, clever forces, cribs, and on and on.

Honestly, I was super relieved when I realized how many choices Pail provided, as I remember reading on one of those dreadful forums (so much negativity!) that a book test called The Master Key was trashed because it provided too many choices in terms of ‘the working.’ I felt this was hogwash – different performers have different tastes and having choices is a good thing.

The workings are all on the technically easy side – no memorization necessary, although if you enjoy memorizing, you can certainly dispense with the crib.

An important note – for the most part, the workings are based on tried-and-true methods. If you’re looking for the latest breakthrough in terms of method, you’ll not find it here. This package is designed for the worker, and I feel very relieved knowing that not only did Paul build his book test on the solid foundation of proven methods but he made sure the book was readable from cover to cover – no ‘gobbleygook’ here!

ANGLES: This being a book test(s), there are no angle considerations that I noticed, meaning you can do this in a house party surrounded – a situation I’ve found myself in a few times over the years when entertaining adults!

THE FINAL RATING: It’s not going to surprise many readers to know that I’m giving this a 10 out of 10. Paul’s my friend, so occasionally I sometimes feel a pang inside my mind of “Should I give Paul’s latest product a lower score simply because I’m friends with the guy and I need to be ‘believable?’” But it’s impossible. Book tests are one of those ‘standard’ items where new versions pop up all the time and with very few exceptions are any of them worth consideration. Paul’s latest offering is stellar and for the working pro, an incredible bargain.

NEXT WEEK: The Triangle of Terror by Keith Fields

Best,

Cris Johnson