Event Entertainment Ft. A Mentalist

Mentalists know a lot about audience experience and event entertainment. Jonathan is no exception to this. Listen to hear how you can prepare and equip your virtual audience for engagement.

Tell us your story.

Long story short, I grew up interested in magic tricks and the mind reading tricks seemed to be the most interesting to the people I was performing for. When I was 13 I got paid to do tricks at a summer picnic and I was in. That was the beginning of my trajectory. I’ve entertained the troops oversees, I’ve performed in Vegas, I was on Americas got talent, a whole bunch of fun things that live entertainment has opened up.

What goes into entertaining the troops vs an event audience?

It is different when your up at the base and it’s very small. I now have them say welcome to the performing space. It’s like a living room show. A very small environment, it’s a great fit for mentalism. Historically it’s been for small audiences in drawing rooms. Since you’re working with the ideas of the audience it can scale up or down pretty easily. The fact that it was a different space wasn’t that big of a deal. The troops were just so excited to have something else to think about.

Tell us about what it means to be a mentalist?

The difference is subtle yet important. Magic is the big umbrella term, within that field you have the illusionists working with boxes and tigers, then you have the close up magicians experts in card magic. Mentalists are magicians specializing in mind reading tricks. The main difference I see is a lot of magic tricks are performative. With Mentalism, without an audience there is no show. I could tell you what I am thinking but that is in no way amazing. Basically a mentalists job is to be the facilitator to highlight what incredible things the audience members can do that they didn’t even know they could do. Like telling the future or reading somebody else’s mind. When it’s done really well, the mentalist get’s out of the way and is curating an experience and making the audience the star of the show. That’s the main difference between a magician and a mentalist. It’s look at what we can do together. It’s inherently interactive.

Before we used to invite people up on stage now it’s different. Now through the power of video communications you can reach out and engage people no matter where they are, but the platform does present certain challenges. Magic and mind reading is always going to be easier more fun, and more impactful when it’s in the same physical location. The digital framework provides challenges but great opportunities.

How do you keep a virtual event interesting?

For me, a big way into that is to realize you can’t ask the audience for the same level of energy response. That is a big difference between live entertainment and doing the zoom format. Live performers are so used to that give and take of energy. Then if you aren’t used to broadcast mediums, it can be dead silent. It’s longterm on us to educate the audience on what’s expected and required of them in order to be able to engage with them. The live entertainment dynamic has been dying out anyways.

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