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David Thiel
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Inner circle
Western Canada...where all that oil is
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Profile of David Thiel
I work primarily in the corporate market in hospitality suites and on-stage. Every once in a while I get an email from someone asking me to recommend a book that would give them good advice about performing for this market. So far, I've pointed them toward two excellent books: Bob Cassidy's Fundamentals of Professional Mentalism and Ken Weber's Maximum Entertainment.

They're both very good resources for beginning and experienced mentalists alike. They force the reader to take a hard look at what they do and why they're doing it. But they don't actually deal specifically with the corporate market, which is a very unique animal.

I'd never even heard of Mentalism, Incorporated until I heard Hickok's interview in Ben Cummings' performance expanding project "Conversations With Mind Readers." Hickok was talking about the importance of a show theme ("Check" I thought), the specifics of the corporate culture ("Double Check" I thought. "About time someone said this stuff") and the critical importance of knowing why you do what you're doing. ("Checkmate" I thought finally and placed my order.)

I read a lot of books. My philosophy is that if I can take ONE thing away from the reading...I've gotten my money's worth. But there are a pile of things in Mentalism, Incorporated that made me smile.

This is a hardcover book, first published in 2002. It'll take you on a 184 page journey wherein Hickok takes his whole act apart. He explains why he puts certain effects into his show and why he presents them in a specific order. There's hard thinking about presentation and bang-on advice about how to present a more effective show (y'know...little considerations like ensuring the audience can hear you and see what you're doing) and best of all some "reflection" questions at the end of each chapter that make you think about what you're doing on-stage -- and how a few tweaks can make that whole process stronger.

Chapter Three: Eight Guidelines for Performing Mentalism to Corporate Audiences is worth ten times the price of the book in solid real-world information alone. No kidding. It's bare knuckles talk about what works for real performers in front of real corporate audiences. I loved this because it is all oh-so-freakin'-true.

The bulk of the book is a line by line, move by move walk-through of Hickok's whole act, effect after effect. While, personally, I didn't find most of the effects to be something I'd adopt myself, what I DID find useful is the thinking that went into their presentation. Hickok is a master of presentation...of the rhythm of a show. I found myself sitting there constantly reading things that made me go "Hmmmm."

There's no marketing information. Hickok is booked through agencies. There's just a nuts and bolts analysis of a venerable corporate mentalism show. That's where the real magic is found. This guy THINKS about what he does...and he has the unusual ability to share why he does what he does in a succinct and entertaining manner. He reveals everything...and lists all the resources in the appendix at the back. I've never seen a book do this before.

It's drawn glowing reviews from names like Banachek, Becker, Karmilovich, Richardson and Riggs. Me too.

If you're looking for a working man's view of performing for the corporate audience...THIS is the one.

And yeah. I know I'm about a decade behind the actual release date, but it's new to me. And I reserve the right to be very excited about it.

Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.
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Charleston, SC
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Profile of mrunge
Thanks for the review David!! Sounds interesting. I think I want to find it myself.

Mark. Smile
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Germany ... when not traveling...
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Profile of JanForster
David, I totally agree. All of his books are so good that I read them at least twice! And once a while I still go back to them. Jan
Jan Forster
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Profile of Mindpro
Chuck's books are still two of my all-time favorites. He also has some great followup essays that he releases occasionally. I have never looked at my show the same since reading these two books.

Nothing fancy or complex, none of todays's trendy social media marketing or slick effects, but the pure nuts and bolts of working with a theme, being congruent, believable and true to your character.

Truth be told these books have literally saved me probably thousands of dollars on purchasing new effects, releases and products that while perhaps interesting, would not be congruent to my on-stage character and abilities I am offering. Nothing has defined my professional performances better than these books (Ken Weber's is a good accompaniment as they go so well together).

Glad you discovered them David. I don't hear much about Chuck anymore, perhaps he's retired or at least out of the spotlight. His lectures were great as well. I had a chance to talk to him and pick his brain on two different occasions at dinner and it was more valuable than his books. Maybe Bob Cassidy or Christopher Carter knows more as Chuck was a member of the PEA.
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