I just ran into master hypnotist and magician Derren Brown at a party and he was such a nice -- and impressive -- guy that yesterday I went out and picked up the first video of his I could find in a shop: the DVD for season one of Trick of the Mind, the show he did for Channel 4.
Trick of the Mind is genuinely, hootingly, delightfully mind-croggling. Brown uses a combination of hypnosis, showmanship, and conjuring tricks to accomplish mentalism effects that are utterly inexplicable and totally baffling. Even when he explains little bits of them (such as how he -- a poor chess player -- manages to play and defeat nine grand masters) the parts he leaves unsaid are so gonzo and tricky that I can't begin to fathom them. I have no idea how he manages to teach strangers on the street how to "mind read" -- so that one can guess, in one or two tries, what the other's street address is, or the name and species of their pet.
Add to this a huge amount of showmanship and a total lack of any kind of smarmy magician smugness and you've got a recipe for endless delight. I've got an order in for his new book Tricks of the Mind and I'm off to find more videos in the January sales.
Derren Brown, mentalist
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