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.