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A Conversation In Two Parts With Derren Brown and Jamy Ian Swiss This is a longer (but still edited down from the original transcripts) version of the interview which is featured on the cover of the February 2005 issue of Genii magazine. Part I: June 29, 2003
The Ascent JAMY IAN SWISS: So, to date you've done three specials and one six-part series plus an accompanying two specials in about a three-year period. Are you the most visible magician in the U.K. today? DERREN BROWN: I guess so. In terms of British magic on television, then definitely. On the other hand, it's not classical magic either. Paul Daniels was obviously the big name here until--I can't think how long he's been off television, maybe 10 years? And then there was Stuff the White Rabbit . I loved that series, but that was a fairly late-night slot, it wasn't known about really. And then there was nothing for a while, and then obviously it was Blaine's special that was actually a bit of a watershed. So yes, his show came out and it seemed to make a big difference in terms of--and I guess it's the same in the States--in terms of showing TV executives that magic can be cooler, more interesting, and appeal to a different market. It's always been very, very mainstream here, and we've only really ever had four channels to speak of. And a program like Daniels, which' for so long has been shot and lit in a way that's very mainstream light entertainment, and that's always been a very difficult thing to get out of. So Blaine's program did make a big difference. JAMY: In terms of changing the perception of what magic could be and the style it's presented in. DERREN: Exactly. And I imagine a similar thing happened in the States. JAMY: No question. There's certainly this element in television now of "We don't have to show magic in a showroom, we can do it for real people in real conditions." And that element, no matter what one thinks of Blaine's work--good, bad, or indifferent--I think that's the thing we have to credit Blaine with. That, and turning the camera on the audience. DERREN: Absolutely, and it's been exactly the same here. And there's been a lot of cheap copyists, but there's also been some quite substantial approaches. I think the Masked Magician specials made a huge difference as well, because they were just coming out at a time when actual magic was lagging and there was no recognizable real face in magic on television here, those Masked Magician specials were being aired, and people knew about them. They were quite interesting and quite different, much as we as magicians dislike them. JAMY: If just in the sense that they brought some attention to the subject of magic. DERREN: They did! Again, they showed the TV executives that magic was a market
and there was still some life left in it. People did watch it, and Andrew O'Connor, who exec produces my show, is quite insistent that it was very good for magic. Which I think is an interesting point. JAMY: And he's been with you since the very first special--how did that come about? DERREN: Objective Productions were emerging at that time as the foremost producers of magic on British TV. Andrew O'Connor (who co-runs Objective) had a discussion with Kevin Lygo, then the head of entertainment at Channel 4. They had both expressed enthusiasm for some mind-reading show, though there was no sense of who the performer would be. And they'd sat about and said, "Well, we haven't had a mind-reader in this country for a very long time." At least since David Berglas was doing his thing on Channel 4 in the 80s. JAMY: Al Koran before that. DERREN: Yes, and Chan Canasta. But he felt it was time for that to come back again. So that was their preconceived notion. I got a telephone call from the guy who is now my manager saying, "There's a Channel 4 show that we're thinking of putting together, can you come to London and show us what you can do, and come and talk to us?" So I met up with them for dinner and showed them a couple of things. ( Laughs ) I think what nailed it actually was "Smoke" off the [MacMillan International Magic] lecture video [and described in Pure Effect ]. I spread the cards out and Andrew thought of the King of Diamonds, which is the first one that I name in the little fishing expedition, so it went well. And so they were impressed, and then they came to a lecture that I did at the Mind Magic convention, Duncan Trillo's event in London, and decided then to go with me. What I found out afterwards is that they'd spent two years looking for somebody, and just couldn't find anybody to do it. None of us at that point had any idea of what the show was going to be, and we spent a year talking about it and forming it and coming up with what eventually was done with the first special. So when they signed me up that was November of '99, and we didn't start making the first special until September 2000. JAMY: And were you doing a lot of mentalism at that time? I mean, "Smoke" is that interesting kind of amalgam. DERREN: That's where I was. I was just trying to do magic that was to me more interesting than just the classic card effects and so on. So I was making the move across, but I didn't want to be a "mentalist" and I didn't want to just shut the door on magic, I just saw it as a more interesting form of magic. Once the show went was broadcast it just made sense for me to no longer ... because I was also performing stage hypnosis shows at that time ... so it made sense for me to stop performing those, stop being another hypnotist, and stop doing classical magic. I was still performing in a restaurant in Bristol at that time, and it was quite funny because although the first show didn't make a huge impact on the viewing population, I would see people that would come in sometimes and they'd say, "Oh, did you see that guy on television last night?" And they'd be talking about me, and I'd say, "Well, that was me!" and they just couldn't quite ...they just didn't expect to see me in a restaurant working the tables. I think from the moment the show went out I just concentrated pretty much on the mind-reading, though. Even in the restaurant I was ... it was basically strange, the mixture of mind-reading and then finish with the "Bottle Through the Table," you know? It was an odd blend, but it kind of seemed to work. So it's not a story of me having an idea for a TV show and wandering into an executive's office. JAMY: And they had the idea of mentalism but they weren't sure yet that it was going to be a mentalism-meets-Blaine, on-the-street kind of thing. DERREN: They weren't sure what it was going to be. I think probably that it was going to be a post-Blaine show, and that's all that they knew. So the first show went out, and then they repeated it, and the repeat did really, really well for some reason. I guess a bit of word of mouth had gotten around after the first airing.
And then it went from there, really. JAMY: So you were kind of evolving in this direction, but you really didn't know where, and then the show helps crystallize it because shows have deadlines, and then that kind of almost leads you along, or pulls you along in that direction. DERREN: Exactly. And I've never looked back. That's why I put that Devil's Picture Videobook out around that time. I suddenly realized I'm not gonna do this stuff anymore, and I think somebody asked me to do a card trick, and it had been such a long time since I did it, and I started doing the first long routine that's on that tape and I just couldn't remember a lot of it. And I thought, this is terrible, because I'm going to forget it, and this stuff is just going to disappear. So that's how that video came about, it was just a way of comfortably saying goodbye to all of that material. JAMY: So you never use any of that anymore, even casually, spontaneously, that style of material? DERREN: No, never. I have a couple of card routines that I still do, because occasionally I'll be at a party, and someone ... but not from the tape. JAMY: But you will still occasionally do something from out of that context? DERREN: Yes, but it wouldn't be the things that were on that tape, apart from maybe some of the stuff towards the end. I suppose there is some more of mind-reading stuff on those, but very, very rarely. And I've come up with another couple of little routines that I do, which I will still use. JAMY: So you'll do them socially but not in a professional setting. DERREN: Exactly, I wouldn't dream of doing them professionally. Which is odd, because I always felt that cards absolutely had their place. But I think, as I've said elsewhere, the only answer to that is the vision and the personality of the performer. That changed for me, and it ceased to be appropriate. JAMY: Why isn't it appropriate for you? DERREN: I think because the persona I was creating was so far from being a magician, that avoiding those trappings, such as playing cards, became very important. All the perfect reasons, I think. And yet now of course we are bringing cards and things back into it, and there's even a pick-pocketing routine in one of the shows. Which I like because it rounds out the character, and especially with a series it just lightens things a little bit, and shows different sides of what I can do, that's important. Developing character is extremely important with TV stuff so people don't just get bored. I think that's the biggest issue that you have to face, and it's learning that from Blaine and Daniels and all the others, that you have to keep moving. Especially if you're doing something a bit different and people start to imitate. Which is flattering on the one hand but an encouragement to keep ahead. Brown On Blaine JAMY: You acknowledge that Blaine has influenced you. What's the influence, and then what's the difference? DERREN: I think the influence is from the TV point of view. The show that I do probably could not have existed if Blaine hadn't done his show. And that's not so much about creative decisions, it's more about what TV channels would be prepared to show and be interested in, and be excited by, and believe in as an idea. And I think that's undeniably his legacy, both for me and any other number of magicians in the near future that are getting TV shows, I think, in terms of the importance of reactions, the "vox pop" segments of the show. JAMY: Pointing the camera at the audience. DERREN: It's all about reactions. Very interesting, isn't it? Because people who would not be that interested in watching a magician on television--in a more mainstream light entertainment kind of show, where you might have a fixed camera watching a guy at a table where you see everything so fairly--people will say they don't believe it because it's
in the way that Blaine's probably has a New York feel. It's a show of people freaking out. DERREN: Absolutely. It's really just another step along that line. it's just a little bit close to Blaine. and it's all about "pick-up" lines. and now they're a proxy and a bridge for the rest of the audience. But Andrew . I think. What was that setting? DERREN: That was a trendy London club and bar. and sometimes you're seeing the same trick that you've seen Copperfield or Paul Daniels or whoever. which means that we are both in charge of where it heads and what we do with it. and questioning what you've seen. but a little bit more of "what people would fit"? Who would be the ideal sorts of spectators for this. But there have been points along the road where we've avoided doing stuff out in the streets. Like the piece done with the fashion models. and we both now exec produce the show. do it with anyone. And yet the rules are far less stringent. Magic As A Team Sport JAMY: And you used the word "we" obviously. JAMY: And not to minimize it at all. And then later we saw Slydini and Al Goshman seat two people up close with the performer. there are parallels there--and yet you believe in it so much when Blaine does it. The format we have for the show. and really tie in with the nature of the effect. DERREN: No. you just buy it. DERREN: Yes. and say. and you believe it. who was Young Magician of the Year years ago. a competition. well. and that would certainly be a conscious moment that if we do that it would start to just feel like Blaine. But beyond that. our personalities are different. It was never about consciously avoiding. Andrew O'Connor. We sit down and think about these ideas. And yet you watch Blaine's show. It does have a London kind of feel to it. and having done a fair amount of work in television on both sides of the camera. I think. One of the most interesting things about your work is finding these ingenious settings. "Who can we do that with. JAMY: I think that's one of your great strengths. JAMY: Because the real question with magic on TV is always credibility. and suddenly these people exist and you're doing it with them. There was a model event going on . It's just about who you are as a performer.. because you say. And when you watch that. I know that ultimately there's always a team. It's a perfect setting--the audience wants to see if what you do will work on these models. So it's the locations--it's a little bit more formalized. And suddenly a show comes along that is all about those reactions. what we have not done is sat down and consciously decided how to diverge from it. JAMY: And so where have you diverged from that? DERREN: Well. that's an interesting point. and you're there. street-based. and they wish they could do it too. and yet you believe it more. and yet there's not an absolute black-and-white way to achieve that. and it's a really simple and really great idea. and that what makes it real is this thing that we all know only exists in the head of the spectator. but a way to bring it to television instead of the vaudeville stage or other live performance. or the idea. and sometimes ingeniously chosen people. But we definitely chose to avoid the wandering around. apart from one item.. Apart from stumbling across this idea that it is all about reactions. and the committee legitimized it for the audience. who would be most appropriate?" That's the fun part of television. The camera is all over the place sometimes. "Wouldn't it be great to do this with twins?" And the next week you've got a whole list of twins. had the original idea for the show. is not so much turning up anywhere doing anything. then doing it with those people in that situation. you don't want to do that. and you're forced into sharing that reaction. it was just doing my own thing. And just occasionally we'd think. anywhere. but really isn't it an old idea in the sense that Leipzig brought a committee on stage in vaudeville and did small close tricks for them.on TV. I think the material is different. and you do your thing.
because you've got a director that in his mind is making a movie. apart from the stage hypnosis show I did. And that was more of a creative challenge for the whole team. and has been involved from the start. But for me. It keeps me challenged and stops the show from becoming indulgent. quite forceful thinker. it really changed me enormously as a performer. he's a very talented magic producer. I think if I'd been picked up by a different company that just basically offered me the show and I had to come up with it myself. Objective is a very magic-based company. And Richard MacDougall and David Britland have also played pivotal roles. you know. and think in similar ways.. It's so unforgiving.. Andy Nyman is a very dynamic. Andy Nyman works closely with me in terms of creating and polishing the material. I hadn't done a lot of stage work. for example.. Anthony Owen produces many of the Objective shows. But the real joy is having a writing partner and someone to thrash ideas around with. and you need an executive producer that understands magic. certainly learning to work with much tighter scripts and much tighter pacing and all of that. working professionals in England that are really worth seeing. That's the core group. but he'd be the first to say that acting is more his passion now rather than performing mentalism. So. and still does bits and pieces. they really know about magic. It really made a huge difference. He was one of the working mentalists that were approached by Objective and I think he probably would have ended up doing the show himself if he wasn't committed to an acting career. And he's extremely good. which was a lot more relaxed. That kind of difference between his style and my style. as far as the director is concerned. His mentalism act is great . DERREN: Absolutely. which can easily happen when just one person is writing it. It's such a luxury to be able to have these creative discussions. JAMY: Always true.is a genius in matters of TV. and eventually we come up with something that we both like and are both really excited by. Although it's ultimately up to me to come up with the goods and bring the bulk of material to the discussion.] DERREN: I'm very lucky. It's fast and punch and in your face. but which was first begun in London by Lenahan and Owen. which doesn't take a lot of performing because you pass the gauntlet over to the volunteers. He's interested more in behind the scenes TV stuff. JAMY: Good guy. And that was kind of interesting. it was everything that I wasn't. and has some lecture notes too. very few. he's making more of a magic show. He is one of very. JAMY: And he's a performing mentalist as well? DERREN: He recently put out a set of DVDs for the magic community. He's like a little bullet on stage. just quiet and conversational . So there are really fascinating issues that come out of that. We've worked together since the start. But he co-runs "Monday Night Magic" here with John Lenahan. and that was with a director we don't have anymore. good magician. but making a mentalism show visually interesting is quite a challenge. now in its eighth year. JAMY: And what about the director? Have you been with the same director? DERREN: We changed the director It's been a long time since we made the series. I think. It's a fairly fast-paced show that we do. I think the results would have been quite poor.. when the director and the editor are working on the final cut of the show it's not important. so we have these great discussions where we're both pushing and nudging each other with these ideas. [Note to readers: Jamy co-produces Monday Night Magic in New York City. and be pushed in directions from other people. so I'd generally be happy to bow to his greater experience. and the director and so on. And from Andrew O'Connor's point of view. in terms of how the trick is set up. but even more so on TV. because you need that creative team. So I was coming from a much more relaxed way of performing. JAMY: Anthony is also a magician? DERREN: Anthony Owen doesn't perform a lot. . Andy's role is priceless. or how clearly we see the cards at the end. and I had to learn a lot in terms of pacing for television.
which in TV terms is quite a lot. and showed all of them. but somehow these things seemed to work really well because we weren't trying to set out . when that's clearly the case. But some of them are four or five. Some of them are a lot more mobile. But if ever we repeat something and it doesn't work. Some of the things are repeated. we filmed a piece on a London tube train. JAMY: And how many cameras was most of the stuff shot with? DERREN: Oh. I would say probably four. we always incorporate that into the show. and either you're working at odds with your director.. and I get a much better fee! We like to make the show look stylish and get some great shots. getting that one camera shot for the director. well. you know. while he was more interested in the narrative. So how many times are you doing most of this stuff? DERREN: Well. JAMY: So what was the budget for the third special? DERREN: It was 150. probably shooting anything else. but you can always have that accusation leveled at you. Nowadays the budget is very high. like the guy on the tube train. Again. Making TV. tiny things.000]. But the guy it didn't work on . I think the entire series of Stuff the White Rabbit cost about half of one of our specials. we have a rule.. with different spectators. the climaxes were softened. but if Andy's around he'll normally keep an eye on it too. That's a good question. JAMY: And are all these guys watching the monitors collectively when you're shooting? DERREN: Sometimes. DERREN: Exactly. Nowadays our director has a good grasp of how to shoot it. well. it does depend. I mean. That would always be an ongoing issue and challenge for the show. or else your director gets a clue as to how to keep his artistic taste in place while at the same time serve the specialized needs of the magic. JAMY: So give me an example of one of these things that didn't work that you used on the show. some of them are single-shot pictures. bar one or two. JAMY: But there is a big difference between shooting magic and. that's repeating the same effect with different spectators. and that's why. And I think the look and feel of the show that ended up was because of that. and that was with me getting a very small fee. Making Magic JAMY: You mentioned the difficulty of getting a single take. So there are some moments where maybe we didn't have a shot of something that we felt was really important to have. JAMY: Right.000 pounds [just under $300. We repeated that with a number of people. but a couple of those might be little digital video. having a director and a producer that have different visions also makes a huge difference. there are a couple of things there I really push for with that. It had the budget that a drama show would normally have. in the same way that working with Andy and the others I work with creatively makes a huge. where I made a few people forget the stop where they were supposed to get off. which is always very difficult. Otherwise financially you couldn't film things a thousand times and show the three times that they work. so it ends up being quite expensive to make. But of course were vital for the program in terms of creating powerful effects. DERREN: Well. positive difference. but in its favor it wasn't like a frustration point. That's the rule if something didn't work. that's a question we all wonder when we watch Blaine. But in the same way that makes a difference equally.all those things that are so important to the grammar of magic on television weren't important to him at all. or moments were passed by with a bit more subtlety than they would be on a classic magic show. So you get these moments when something doesn't quite work properly. DERREN: Yes. beyond the general creative thing. We had a high budget for the show. There was a lot of expense involved.
DERREN: That's absolutely true. we get people in. everything you do. That thing with the ad agency. as the sheer number of routines I need for a series is a massive amount to find in the short time I normally have. JAMY: Just so I understand. And that was maybe two weeks of rehearsing. So not everything can be rehearsed.was kept in. and then continuing to rehearse over the next three weeks. not just in a vacuum. There comes a point when we've got the material sorted out and we try to get students in from a local college and try things out on them. so the writing is prior to that period. The only time things get dropped is when the actual shots don't work. but . you're kind of in an in-between . I used to sit and chat with a good friend. JAMY: So it's weeks of creative. I think that's fair to say. you only get one chance at doing it. so you say two weeks of rehearsing.. or which hand is the coin in. the routine about money in one envelope and not in the other. and then a couple of weeks of actual rehearsal. There is no way of rehearsing it beyond--well. Now that I live in London things have changed. DERREN: Yes. right? It's the same thing as "second album syndrome" in rock music. We have ideas. Andy and I then go through those ideas and polish them up as best we can in the time constraints we have. but for most of it. I'll normally enlist the help of a few creative buddies to brainstorm ideas. Peter Clifford. that's without the post-production. DERREN: Yes. that most of it is rehearsed. it would be about five or six weeks up until the end of filming. certainly now . So that by the time it comes to get it on the screen it's not the first time I've done it. yes. I think it was eight weeks. It's partly the rehearsal process. while it was a little more formalized with the specials. sometimes I'm very happy. we'd meet up in London and live in a hotel and spend a couple of days talking through ideas. But now it's slightly changed the way we've done it. or if the reactions are odd or flaccid. and we'll e-mail each other. there isn't really. Sometimes I wish I could have worked though something better.. Andrew O'Connor often drops by and adds his own sense of no-nonsense clarity to the ideas we might be having trouble with. DERREN: Exactly. and come up with a lot of new ideas too. and try and nail 20 pieces that we were going to need for the show. there's no way. and then weeks with more of the team refining. JAMY: But in terms of rehearsal. and that's it. Like for example. and the thing with the girl at the greyhound track paying off on the losing ticket. get them in. to come up with the routines I would bring to the show. But the first one took September and October. in Bristol. JAMY: And how long a pre-production period of creating the material? DERREN: The writing continues throughout. whatever it was. Unlike a theatrical show. and shape it a little bit more. it's rehearsal with actual spectators. The third special I think all happened within really about--if I remember correctly. stuff like that I would absolutely rehearse with the students. there are some things we do that just happen on the day. Not the ones you're using for the specials obviously. because there was a lot more. for example? DERREN: There's not so much now. But generally the routines are set pieces so we only get one chance at it. for most of the set pieces. JAMY: So how much rehearsing do you do. There are some things that aren't.. It's just about having the script and working out the structure of the piece. All That And A Live Show Too JAMY: So when you're developing this stuff for television. JAMY: And so then how do you develop and refine the stuff? The first special you probably had more experience--this is typically the case--you probably had more experience doing the material. because once it would be commissioned.
and September it went out. But I was developing--I think I did the first cabaret in July. because those people who did want me. And I didn't get paid very much for the first special. So I got paid a huge sum for that. as part of that. So the first half of the show is a theatrically tweaked version of my 45-minute platform commercial act that I do. Which is now what I do pretty much every night. as I said. and my fee went up about 10 times from what it was before. Which was great. and they came in more. The tour finished at the beginning of July. trying to run it in cabaret. And the second half was--at the end of the show I would get the whole audience to swear secrecy that they won't talk about what the second half is. So I'm walking out . the second half is a lot darker. or was that more formalized performance? DERREN: No. I made sure they came to me. JAMY: And what kind of show was it? DERREN: It was close-up. although that's now going to stop. are you working live anywhere during that period? DERREN: At the moment. So you're talking about what we call platform work over here. And then it just picked up. but by the time I came to do the tour the series had gone out. And then I think in the year following that I had five gigs. and then doing it for the first time. or a longer show? DERREN: The tour was a two-hour one-man show. that's it. And the first gig that I had after that show. but pretty much all mind-reading effects. And the theater show we started rehearsing in August. DERREN: Yes. there wouldn't have been any magic there. The second special went out. so everything sold out. that's right. and were prepared to pay that amount. Even during the tour I was doing those corporate gigs. December 2000. I was coming up with this cabaret act. And now the tour is finished. I wasn't doing cabaret at that point. I see. and people coming and sitting down. So two very different halves. And I had to borrow money off my manager for that year to keep me going. And because of that I ended up having a manager. and now you're a national TV star. for a while before that I had stopped going to people. DERREN: Absolutely. this is great. JAMY: Oh. Basically. and me just making sure that people were generally moved on.place as far as live performance. JAMY: And was that moving casually through it. Again. JAMY: Are there many outlets for this kind of work in England? DERREN: It's corporate events. well. non-stop. I was doing a show in Bristol to warm up for the tour that I did last year and. I may have been using cards a little bit. And it was the show that I did in Bristol. And everyone was very good about that. wanted me because they had seen me on television. And the theaters were booked before my series went out. The first special went out. yes. and we couldn't charge less for the gigs ( laughs ). And I just didn't have any money. and I thought. and is a lot more theatrical. platform performance in corporate settings. but I haven't had the chance to stop. Are you doing any during that period? Once you stopped working at a restaurant doing close-up magic. It was a millionaire's home--palace!--it was his wife's birthday party. The first year was very interesting and I'm sure this would face any performer. I had decided that was the way I was going to do it. and I sat in one of their drawing rooms. JAMY: And that's in the flavor of the Mind Control shows. and eventually what made the difference was getting the cabaret act together. JAMY: And how long a set was that? DERREN: A 45-minute set. JAMY: And what was the tour? You were doing the same act in theaters. the first half of the show was going to be a cabaret act. So it was me in a room. So it was all fairly close. It isn't quite the glamorous route people imagine. It's much more theater than the first half. JAMY: And you were doing the style of material you were doing on TV at the time? DERREN: Yes. I got tipped more then my fee had ever been.
So definitely there are plans for an American show. JAMY: So now with the TV specials you can really help turn a profit. But all of that obviously just had to stop and we came back. but there are a few that we always seem to have someone's . Whereas a cable company is going to nurture you a little bit more. Obviously they come out of discussions. if I could just do bigger and bigger theaters. so something between the two. infinitely more than doing the corporate work. I had no idea how much I'd enjoy it. but we're not rushing anything. DERREN: Up to 2000. but then other options open themselves up. so some of the theaters were quite small. So it's whether you go for a higher profile immediately or whether you allow cable to nurture you and build the show. And we got an offer from one of the big cables which we then thought about. so it's a mixture of the two. It's an expensive show to make. we were making inroads with the larger cable outlets and with the networks as well. It varied. I enjoyed the tours so much. and I wouldn't want to compromise on the quality. And I absolutely loved it. So I'd certainly want to continue touring. of touring in theaters and also doing this corporate platform work? DERREN: For the moment. JAMY: From the specials and the series? DERREN: Yeah. JAMY: It may have given a few Americans a chance to see you. Which I think probably is a more sensible idea. one of the most popular pieces would be the one with the advertising agency. And there's an interesting issue. It's still in the pipeline. JAMY: What's on that? DERREN: Highlights from the shows. There'd been those three specials but not necessarily everyone had seen those. DERREN: In terms of the TV work. before touring or trying to do something on Broadway. we haven't tried to rush anything.S. which is if you go with a big network and it doesn't get great ratings the first time. but I'm taken up with work here at the moment and have no time to breathe. Doing a joint production with Channel 4 here and an American one. I'd certainly wait until I had some profile in the U. Because the problem was. what happened was I came over September 11 th of 2001 to do pitch the show--which was obviously a bizarre and amazing time to be there. inroads have been made. then they just drop you. A Taste Of The Material JAMY: Most of our American readership have not seen much of your work--maybe they've read the books--so let's take a couple of moments for you to describe a couple of pieces that you're fond of. It's an ongoing discussion that isn't being rushed. And there was a DVD released in October of 2003 as well. when we booked the theaters they didn't know who I was because the series hadn't gone out. But having said that. What about your coming to America? DERREN: As far as an American show. because they sell tickets to the live shows. But of course the money's better for doing the cabaret work. and then build over to a network. it's highlights. It varied from about--I think the smallest was probably four or five hundred. This idea we credit to Richard MacDougal. So the meetings all got cancelled.S. So we may take that road. so there's no rush. as has my production company for the same reasons. bits from the specials and the series put together. So it may take a little longer before we convince the U. JAMY: In 2000 seats. DERREN: Hugely. channels to go for it.every night and people are just going mad before I've even begun. JAMY: Is your plan going forward to keep doing a mix of the both. I've got so much on my plate at the moment here. Obviously a very bad time to be there if you're pitching yourself as a man who can predict the future. I'm sure that would eventually balance out. And certainly in this country we've gone for a slower burn.
we've been there before. Pure Effect . that's right! JAMY: Which completely took me in. So the idea of this was that we found a "punter.. "Do you own a stuffed cat. And then the kicker is that we say. and they're given an assignment. acid or spiders or whatever in them. we just didn't . which actually he ended up doing perfectly each time." as we call them. JAMY: And we kind of saw the journey. it's not an exact drawing of the final poster but it bears a striking similarity. or some of their earlier drafts. And then it turns out that the box they put their hand into is the only one that was safe. DERREN: Absolutely. The idea of this was making the girls that work in the betting office at the dog track pay out for losing tickets. and shapes and colors that we'd used to influence them. But then the kicker of the effect would then be to show that we'd used the advertisers' own sales technology and subliminal technique and packaging theory and all of this to influence them. DERREN: You do see them. well. that's there betting on the dogs.. in the second book. I hope.face behind them. is a pseudomethod.. which is that they have half an hour to come up with a poster for a taxidermy company. the photo of the cat in the first book. JAMY: Yes. There's are lots of things in the show which reflect the seedier side of London. if you knew the lengths that we'd gone to to make this work. I put a stuffed cat on the table and put the envelope underneath on which I've made a few predictions. images . with my voiceover at the top. where you would have four packages. JAMY: What's interesting about this is that the effect. signs that we put up.. and all the way along the journey we had planted subliminal techniques. the dog race track. JAMY: But the point is.. Taxidermy is an interest of mine. and put their hand in the box. The idea was that these ad executives are brought in and we see them having a taxi trip to the office. DERREN: Exactly.. It was a slight The Usual Suspects logic. because this summer a friend called me to say that his girlfriend had seen the photo and didn't think the cat was real. So it ended up being one of the most ambitious drawing duplications probably being done. you'd be impressed. And it started off as a Cheat the Gallows or Russian Roulette type of routine. just a guy. There are people crossing in front of the car. and there are . and some advertising executives were asked to look at the four packages--or 10 packages or whatever--to decide on the one they'd like. you sick f**k?" ( Laughter ) The same cat makes an appearance in the sequence with the ad agency. and I make the girl in the office pay out on the losing ticket each . And the other one was the greyhounds. Such as. especially when we go back and look at some of the notes and drawings that they've done but maybe rejected. JAMY: Right! ( Laughter ) DERREN: So they get an hour to come up with the poster. DERREN: Yes. and he picks a losing dog each time. And then we show again the taxi journey that we'd seen earlier on. a spectator. and this is Richard MacDougal. we're kind of in the role of these ad agency guys. how they came into the building.. And I kind of felt that the stunt itself was a bit drab.. but we don't see these particular elements and images. DERREN: ( Laughs ) I can't help laughing about this. as it were. the final effect. I was tickled to read the secret. and then we look at their poster and then we compare it to what I had in this envelope. And then we get their reactions to that and so on. He tries to pick a losing dog. So that was the original idea. which is their journey on the way to the office. signs. so I suggested the idea of more of a drawing duplication. the other ones had.. it's not the same. so that was why I chose that. but you don't focus on them. the stuff is there--we see but we don't notice--we look but we don't see. we follow them in a brief montage at the beginning of the show. the cat . it doesn't just all come late as a new thing. and he sticks with me for the day. And so he phoned me up and said. which no one has touched. A few film references throughout there just to amuse us more than anything else.
rather than saying "I could die if this goes wrong. DERREN: That's right. let the audience do the work. "It's no different than six cups on the table and somebody puts something under one of the cups and it's a puzzle.. I would suggest it's merely an element of good taste. modest. I think. but I'm not walking through fire. I could die. I do it. You know. and on the last time I snap her out of it halfway through. There are ideas that we've nearly put in a special and then never done. That was hidden cameras. To me. so that we get her reaction to it. So it was very underplayed." I always said. and we take the ideas a little bit further. And we'd do it fairly. it occurred to me when I first saw it that one of the things I really like about it is the setting. even in one of the specials you had something like this with the two envelopes. or something like this. But in a way there's a much deeper artistic and emotional hook when you talk about cashing a losing ticket. and that's very straightforward. I'd put down two books with something under one of the books. There was an issue with that assault course piece of needing to avoid something like "Tonight. JAMY: Now these are things that are really purely television. and then showing them the technique that I was using to win. using a suggestive waiting hypnosis kind of technique. but it came from watching the Chan Canasta sequence. I can't remember now. and I'm walking across these planks of wood six feet from the floor. ( Laughter ) DERREN: It's something that I like and there's a lot of it in the show. two or three times. Sure. a particular favorite of mine is the which-hand-is-the-coin-in piece. my career would be over. more and more dramatic. But there is a British-ness to it. and then we come back to them the next time we're making a special. maybe. once you have this fundamental effect. DERREN: I think so. more huge.time. I could feel how the way I was going to talk about it in interviews and so on was that we needed to downplay it.. You know. and it's exactly the same. and also another thing that you may have seen with the SAS guy. And when I was being interviewed about it. like a losing lottery ticket. As I was entering into publicity for the Russian Roulette sequence. JAMY: I would suggest that it's not an element of British vs. well. JAMY: Oh. was the track your first thought as far as this effect? I mean. going into a casino and scamming them at Blackjack. yes. so I could twist my ankle. on Derren Brown! Five tons of solid wood!" and this dramatic overplaying. when I'm blindfolded walking across . DERREN: Exactly! As long as I don't freak out about it. I didn't always get it right. American." JAMY: ( Laughter ) Right. didn't you? And the book in the library? . But going back to this thing at the dog track. What I like about those things is the British way of approaching it-and it's something that Blaine and I feel differently about--I like the fact that it's all underplayed. and the idea of paying off a losing ticket. maybe break a leg. it was absolutely fair. JAMY: And he disagrees with you in what way about this? DERREN: Blaine's always egging me on to be bigger. JAMY: Yeah. JAMY: Well. which he can keep. or whatever. the hazard course. that the guy at the race track doesn't walk away with ten million pounds. And the guy walks away with a few hundred pounds. but my tendency is towards more of a downplayed. Everybody would like to be able to do that. Which started off as something that I did live in one form or another. the track. you could certainly think of. One of them was the casino sequence on the series. a 20-pound note under one of the books or in one of the envelopes.." You want to see me use it for my own personal gain or something. going to a bank for example and cashing a blank check. British way of doing things. And they were quite pure ideas in terms of what do you want see this guying doing on the television if I have these abilities? You don't just want to see me doing "which hand is the coin in. What kind of pieces have seen on TV that are part of your live show? DERREN: Well. and her trying to understand what she's doing and why she's doing it. this is it.. One of the things I like about that .
DERREN: So one of the things I do in the live show is a a similar piece where I've brought two people onto either side of the stage. I get them all to put a coin behind their back. so." I make the scientist put his fingers in his ears. and then it stops and she turns around what she's got and we can kind of see that there's a number there. and a bunch of students..DERREN: Yes. and I play it for money with them. DERREN: She doesn't know how. The automatic writing thing. because it's only a 50/50 chance. etc. He then thinks of something that he hasn't brought with him. a scientist in a white coat. of influencing them one way or the other. It's all in performance. and then I give her a pen and paper and I say. he hasn't told anybody what they are. JAMY: Give us one more example like that. just draw or write something. and that's what she wrote down. and those are the people that I've got wrong every time. It's everything I would want to do. Later on it was which hand is the coin in. and she starts to get half ideas.. and I use a lot of hypnotic inductions on stage. a girl comes out of the audience and she just like collapses into the chair. "What are you thinking of?" And it was a baseball cap. and she freaks out because that's what she was thinking of. and I whittle the audience down to one person. "As soon as you know what it is. you know. and she's genuinely doing it. And once I had all that in a nice scripted four-stage routine it became a trademark piece. you can recognize a number. the idea of me stepping out of it completely. I start off with him. and the other person is doing automatic writing on a pad. I think it's a really nice plot. But for me it's the ideal effect. I apparently whittle it down to the person that's most difficult for me to manipulate or whatever. And having it happen between the two of them. And then I get that person up. he chooses one of these students that are watching.. from examples in the show that are in the series. JAMY: Becoming a conduit. and also only a 50/50. it's utterly plausible and straightforward. JAMY: And she's done it but she doesn't really know how. and I tell him to set something out. But now it's something I do live. DERREN: Absolutely. it's the torturous psychological loops that you throw the person in when you appear to be bluffing. And that sets up the effect. DERREN: I think that my favorite one. it's how I start off the stage show. And then the sound comes back up. I do two or three rounds. And vicariously the audience gets a huge amount of fun out of it too. He holds this object in his hand and I do a cold reading. and I don't know what these are. What I do is turn to her and I say. And it's something I really love. And we turn the sound down on the show while I explain to her exactly how she's going to do it. both on the tour and with the corporate work. something you use both on TV and in your live work. and the other guy is sending these numbers across . JAMY: Very difficult to stage it too. "I'm going to tell you exactly how to do this. one-on-one on the stage. that started off in the specials with the game with the two envelopes. is in the Tate Gallery. and one person thinks of a couple of digits from his phone number. And after a couple of rounds there's a few people left that haven't sat down. it's really dramatic. and the girl sits down opposite him. fishing expedition. depending on how I phrase the question of how they're to hide the coin. he's got a case with him. And one of those things that I think most people would overlook. and she does the same thing with him. and he says what he was . and I give her the pad and pen. This is a young doctor. She's as surprised as he is. etc. I get the whole audience to stand up. and there are patterns that everybody tends to follow. and I really build it up. And then for the next stage. and then he says. and she's just allowing the pen to move on the page. and she looks at him and she starts to describe mentally what she's picturing. I come out. And what's fun about it is not the fact that you can guess which hand the coin's in. and she's counting out loud backwards from 500. or sometimes it's been a word that you've used or whatever. anything he likes from home. he's brought a few objects from home. Rather than whittling it down in a hypnosis show to the person that's most susceptible." So she does. a similar 50/50 theme. and then I just tell him what it is that he's holding. I love. and simple. and more ideas.
( Laughter ) I think it was 1999. I remember when I was young enough to know everything. traditionally in the past. this is the second book. And I'd had a draft going for a while before that.. . so I was 28. But I think it all happened around the same time. and I can't remember how much I was lecturing before. But in your books. and felt that I was talking to most magicians that I knew hadn't rediscovered it. I was feeling. And I had a lot that I wanted to say. And again. because it was that magic convention I went to. JAMY: One of the things that's interesting is that both of these books... DERREN: Well. I hope so. now would be a good time. but then again I've moved into a different area. DERREN: Yeah. or exactly how it came together. occur in the course of your thinking--unfinished. I think I just wanted to write and to do a magic book. but I must have done a couple of lectures first and then started specifically to get the book out. I haven't really gone back and read it. DERREN: No.. I'm sure there's a lot there that is a little naïve. so I'm not going to have a lot to say about it. it was having stuff I really wanted to say. and it doesn't suit all of us. ( Laughter ) I had done a lecture and a couple of competitions.. And I certainly read it and disagree with things now. At the time. again. most magic books occur later on when someone really knows something about what they have to say. neither did I. well. Part of it was just about being able to take risks and do all the things that we often don't do as magicians--or some of us do and some of us don't.thinking of and it's the same one. How did the first book come about? Nobody knew who the hell you were. And it's great and always gets a huge reaction. You've written two books about magic. I'm sure I wrote that book in the same spirit as the young who are writing books now. then whether or not at that point you rediscover it determines what happens next. I hate watching old performances. and then you become jaded and bored with the whole thing. then you form maybe a little bit more of an idea of what you want. And also. but they think they've figured it all out--you know. And you're not always sure about what it is. Anything that I've done in the past . and I thought. So I found myself evangelizing.. And a lot of that as you know also came from conversations with Teller that were cementing . in an arrogant young first-time writer . especially the first one but I think really both of them. And I've never lectured a lot. so if I was going to say anything about it or write anything about it. they make me cringe. so I try not judge myself too harshly on that. I feel there's a journey that ideally most magicians go through. at National Magic. JAMY: That's more the second book. but somehow I keep learning more and more about what I don't know. So after a while I wanted to write something on magic. but I had a lot that I wanted to say. More recently we get a lot of books from people who have no idea what they're talking about because they're still young. so it seemed to be a good time to write it. And I was rediscovering it around that time. which seemed to give enough of a starting point for the book. and maybe I just got the bug for it.. I don't like going back to things that I've done. Brown In Print JAMY: Let's talk about the books. you're kind of opening a window to the machinery that's going at the time.. You have your initial enthusiasm for it. like with the card video. incomplete thinking--and in the midst of evolving with these ideas. well. I can't quite remember its genesis. You know. most magic books . I don't think I was totally different from whatever they're thinking when writing a book. I think I was beginning to get a few people to know who I was. So the second book was about the time I was going to be leaving traditional conjuring. JAMY: How old were you when you wrote it? DERREN: I was nine. I didn't know who you were. that I was going to move away from doing magic. and it took off. I'd like to write some of this stuff. But yes. I think a lot of it was about trying to put a bit of interest and excitement back into it. too.
with the desire of the audience to be entertained and engaged.. When I was going out and doing that. trivial. and I was just trying to find something in the middle that wasn't over-weighty but had a bit more meaning." .. when rings are unlinked. I don't know what that sentence means. And the way that I felt that would work is through considerations of character and routining and structuring a performance and all those things that we know are important. that would reflect back on me.. But I'm just talking about commercial magic and particularly close-up magic. communicating ideas through magic. "We saw this amazing guy. I think you have to balance a whole load of different factors together. as opposed to the situation where you're lucky enough to have your own stage show. I've just found this so over-laden and so weighty that in the end it's just alienating. then? Other narrative arts? DERREN: Well. of course. The idea of these very heavy stories up against a simple trick has crept into things. What I don't like is the routine where a packet trick or rope routine is done against a background of being told about stories of life and death and regeneration as. meaningful. you're slightly embarrassed by the pretensions of the performer. and more like a play. they miss the point. So they wouldn't go away saying. and the character that you're creating.K. surely it just makes it even clearer that it is just a trick that you're watching. And all of that over-laden with sentimentality. Because of course in performance you're going to communicate ideas. we saw some guy do this amazing thing with four cards. and everything you want to leave those people with. avoiding the overly dramatic. what I wanted to get across was to transport people. equally. right? DERREN: What comes from me is that the message of the performance is the performance itself. Copperfield can do what he wants to do. because certainly in the U. you may wish to get all sorts of things across. And you may decide to have a show that's very theatrical. JAMY: Well. and for this magic to be as powerful as it could be. and going around tables at restaurants.either--but that was my feeling for it. I think it's all about context. or are you talking there about just what really comes down to a particular style? DERREN: I'm talking about a particular style." but it would be.. but I think the moment magicians try and slap some kind of dramatic meaning on it. then you can do whatever you like with it. It should be about magic.. or about getting any meaning across. Even a playwright who wants to talk about some weighty issue still needs to balance his method. Magic With Too Much Meaning DERREN: I think meaning is very . JAMY: Well. and there is going to be a meaning to it. DERREN: At the moment I'm talking about magic where it's most normally performed. But. It's about having a vision and all of those things. but you always have to balance. and the idea of taking risks and concentrating on performance. I don't think magic is about meaning. and all pointed toward making the experience of it as powerful as possible. JAMY: Well. JAMY: Okay. To me it just makes it clear that it's just a trick you're watching. perhaps . if you will. but in a way that reflected back on the performer. I think both extremes can be equally masturbatory. But in the world of close-up magic and entertaining at parties and all. not about preaching. for me. like the whole trip to Hawaii ["Portal"]. for example. but are you talking there about the idea of meaning and magic. rather kind of weighty and pretentious extreme that had sprung up in antithesis to the meaningless card juggling. or more like . which I thought was fantastic. But as I said.. "Well. rather than actually amplifying the magic. it was great in that situation. And if we are just watching a trick. that that was important. the meaning should be the performance itself. how would you compare that with other arts. If you have a show and people are coming to see you in the theater.
and I would go out and do my whatever.. It wasn't about life. I wasn't saying. because you know what I've written--about performances having substance and meaning and those things--and that you are absolutely communicating something. it's absolutely expected . I don't know... Don't you complain in Absolute Magic at length. they actually alienate people. "Well.JAMY: Then does that entail the performer revealing something about himself? Revealing a point of view? DERREN: I think that's a huge . gave them a little theatrical piece on the meaning of life as demonstrated through . and with some degree of fury. what some would call a lecture. or if I was doing commercial work where people would come to me--absolutely everything was routined in terms of what I wanted to get across. and how deftly and sensitively they can judge . in other theatrical contexts. JAMY: Well. and that. DERREN: True. about the idea of just sublimating yourself into their event. I think you have the task of very slowly shifting it from being their space into your space.. But that would be true of any style badly done.. Obviously. "Sometimes in relationships this happens and that happens and then we do this and we do that. metaphor. JAMY: Well. five or 10 minutes at the table--this is when I was doing restaurant in a lounge/bar. and as deeply involved as possible. and I would go from table to table. I'm talking about the extreme of being a meaningless mingler--that's as repellant as being a kind of inappropriately heavy and solemn performer who's just being pretentious and over-weighted. For me that was always distracting and weird. because it all depends on the performer and the context.... the Hindu creation of the universe. absolutely involved.. others might call . but I think no one stood up and said. But you see I try to do that without making it overly weighty.. for example.. JAMY: Yes... Which I feel would be different than giving them a little lecture on . But that ring routine. this is what magic's about. concentration camps. isn't it? JAMY: It's kind of like saying comedy really sucks when it's not funny. is that they don't draw people in. JAMY: But someone could say for example that the "Floating Ring" should be about the floating ring and not about the overly weighty metaphor of someone's alleged relationship. I'm sure actually we are in agreement and talking about the same thing. DERREN: Exactly. that would seem to me to be certainly true when it's badly done. this is what I'm about." and it's just a question of neither extreme is ideal. poetry ." while making the ring go up and down and then just handing it back and walking off. All of those are hugely important. so it's not very useful. I think we've all learned to dislike and move away from meaningless card juggling. this is the world that I live in. But if I sat down and spoke to people about . and various sorts of other things. DERREN: Exactly. You see. but you're about to cite me an example of something you wouldn't do. which has been known to interest the occasional human. And it's so difficult to talk about this. it's all about making that person. DERREN: That would be true of anything. but equally the reaction to that has also led to some stuff that's rather over-laden and pretentious at the other end. The performance was . is what's wrong with it. that's what I mean. that's why I'm trying to draw the line between where I feel meaning works and where it doesn't. this is what I can do. I don't think it works in a situation like commercial close-up. and I felt a little bit off-putting for people in that situation. Of course. the universe. But again. It's about degrees. being another centerpiece at the cocktail party table? As opposed to seizing them and bringing them into your world? DERREN: Absolutely! I'm only talking about extremes. DERREN: ( Laughter ) Absolutely.. And in everything I did. death. when you are in someone else's space.. and this will transport you.. and the people watching. for example. for me. the overly weighty and what is to me over-laden and rather pretentious presentation. JAMY: You talk at length in the second book about taking control and not just being subservient. It all came back to the performance itself. But what I was getting across was me. what I don't like about that.
My personal relationship with mentalism and performing is such that I could walk away from it. But then in order to earn a living doing that. someone always happy to be part of it. You've been a close-up magician and a card guy.. I felt that that extreme wasn't getting looked at. and having just the right amount of everything. JAMY: It certainly gives you a broad palate. good point. and that wasn't really what I wanted to do. but I stumbled across something which really suited me.the situation. So I was trying to find my own part of things I found interesting. so before I was doing both magic and mentalism. I didn't really know any other magicians to speak of. I can't wait to write this mentalism book eventually. I think 1999 was the first convention I ever went to. And the places that were trying to hire me. whereas the other extreme of the meaningless card juggling was getting knocked from every side. But the idea of doing close-up magic made more sense because it was a similar entertainment.. I think it does mean you come up with a few methods that I know that magicians are never going to get close to. Everybody knew to criticize that. And then as that took off. things that might seem to contradict each other. and incidentally. I hadn't been to any conventions until very late. I think it just rounds things out. JAMY: like salt in the recipe: you should just add just enough. I hope so. So I ended up concentrating more on the magic and less and less on the hypnosis. And then it's about pacing. in all my . DERREN: I hope so. the interest in the hypnosis obviously was still there. ( Laughs ) I have some things that I'm just so excited about. So I saw a hypnotist in my first year at university. and we need to be wary of them. and I think these skills bring texture and depth to the work. you're some mentalist. you're a hypnotist. so I started a little bit late. and the pick-pocketing and so on. JAMY: Right. and I really enjoyed. it was rather difficult as a hypnotist because the pressure on you to humiliate people and so on is enormous. and aren't swamped by the field. and trying to get them to work together. What's nice is.. How does that set you apart? How does that perhaps uniquely inform your work? DERREN: I think it's always been a search for me to find what I liked in magic. That there are always excesses on both sides. And concentrating on the magic. and--I'm loathe to say this. I started off as a hypnotist at university . which were pubs and some fairly seedy places that wanted that hypnosis show. and maybe help you to differentiate your work. I really could. JAMY: What were you in school for? DERREN: Law and German. A Complete Toolkit JAMY: You bring an interesting set of tools to what's gotten you where you are. So I didn't know any of that. and not too much. I wasn't doing any of this before I was 19. and had students as useful guinea pigs. Now I don't really have much opportunity to do classical magic. Anyway. well. routining.. but it was something I could happily do in those sorts of places without it compromising anything. probably a broader set than we're often accustomed to seeing. and spent a year or so learning that and started to do shows for the college. and I felt could be done in a way that for me. and started doing that. I mean. because there is a strong psychological aspect to pick-pocketing. And then I came across pick-pocketing. And I do like to have my cake and eat it too. because I didn't want to compromise how I wanted to perform that. it always sounds pompous--but I think that the people that move our art form forward tend to be the people that are doing other things as well. It wouldn't make financial sense at the moment to do that. there's an angle to approach it from if you're known for your psychological techniques. and I thought. DERREN: Exactly. you're a pickpocket. I was still doing occasional shows. I didn't want to perform in. that's great. After a while I did find a couple. there are . but I am finding ways of bringing a bit of card material back in for the TV shows at least. And I was never a member of any magic clubs.
and that thing. but I don't need it and want it for its own sake. I had a sequence when I was on tour--I'm telling you the effect here--I learned the phone book for each city that I visited. I didn't much need to say who I was. and I explain that I've done this by learning the dictionary using a form of photo reading." which is something I think one of the TV listings magazines came up with that.. with the live show. You are making it better if you just see something and think.. a drawing duplication. It's a bit of a mouthful but it worked. a book test? Do you do anything like that. I give a librarian a dictionary and ask him to look up any word he likes and to give me the page number. and I tell him what the word is. and . before we proceed to the book test. I kind of feel that it could have been opening a restaurant. "I'm the guy from those TV specials who does Mind Control. and I read to him what's on that page and then the line that he's on and so on. I could have stumbled into probably a number of things and maybe ended up in similar relationship. And then I tell him the word that would come after that.. we're in fairly familiar territory here . What I enjoy out of this is the fact that I can't think of anything else at the moment I'd rather do. A photo-reading [speed reading and memorizing] piece in one of the specials at the British Library. You just see holes in things and . that I really quite liked. So that's in a way a book test. that's not in the live show. but what I do is I spend 20 minutes photo reading the book first. anybody would do that in any field. And I'd have somebody on stage with a copy of the local phonebook verifying. and seeing and feeling these things bend in their hands. DERREN: Exactly." DERREN: Well. but nothing happening at all. but while I'm earning a little money from it so I can live the lifestyle that I would like to. anything that's in Corinda or Annemann? DERREN: There certainly are my takes on some of those things. JAMY: Do you use something like that in the live show? DERREN: No.arrogance. I'm trying to create a line where I'm saying on the one hand it isn't psychic and . You know. JAMY: So how do you describe what you do these days in your live show? You're selling your live show. and the word that comes after that. which again was my take on book tests. and it's got one copy of everything in it. I could do that in a way that for me would make that better.. how much is drawn from the palate of the traditional mentalist--a sealed prediction. And there was a metal-bending piece we thought of. would make it better. which is then a question of him opening the book anywhere he likes. And I'd describe what the pages look like. I think that's another example. With the corporate stuff I get introduced as a "psychological illusionist. What's In A Claim? JAMY: In your live theater show. and I had people throwing an object around the audience and people would stand up and call out their name and part of their address and I would tell them their phone numbers. putting a take or a twist on them. and the number of entries down on that page. sticking his finger on a line or just counting down anywhere he likes. and it's the third column and fourth down. and I can have fun coming up with good ideas and working with people I like. and saying how many lines down on the page he's on. the tour. So then he picks any book he likes off the shelf." So you start doing that. But in terms of more traditional mentalist's fare. But it could have been anything. So it's just a new take on that. I think.. The photo reading piece came from trying to make a bit more sense out of book tests. you've got this up at the top. 16 million books. But this really appeals to me. JAMY: It's an Oxford unabridged dictionary. what do you say? Or do you just say. at least in this country.. and then the name after that is this. and then you've got a few of this name. where in a lunatic asylum with girls holding forks and spoons. JAMY: What was the basic effect? DERREN: It was in the British Library. "Oh.
but there's no way to learn photo-reading so that you'll be able to duplicate that thing. and there will be people who will always believe. the amount of people that got in touch saying they want to go on photo reading courses after seeing the photo reading piece that I did. DERREN: Exactly. Now I don't want to be in a position of having to defend myself. but I've been fairly good with it. Artistically perhaps it wasn't a great decision. again. At the beginning of the first special it was important to stake a claim and set myself apart from things. and in the third special you say very little at all one way or the other. and that it's not hard science. but nonetheless it was there and it probably didn't work in my favor. People will watch soap operas and make life decisions based on that. And I've always had my tongue in my cheek in interviews. In the first special you said something very different than the second special. Certainly I touch on it in the TV show. saying that I was kind of using some of that. and possibly have an eventual wave now when I have to pay a lot more attention to the line that I take.. And I've always said that it's born out of magic and that it is a form of magic. but hopefully a more interesting and thought-provoking one. and a bit more challenging and difficult to dismiss than a lot of magic can be. it's a timeless and never-ending debate in the mentalist field about the subject of claims. I don't want to be Uri Geller. JAMY: You think? DERREN: The vast majority of people do. blah. involving. JAMY: Do you ever mention the word "deception" in those explanations? DERREN: I make it clear that I come from a magical background as well. and that I use magic techniques in what I do. I think people . There will be people who will never believe. DERREN: Absolutely! But I think with my shows in this country. because that's actually not an argument. it is entertainment. But when people do take a line of saying that it's not hard science. I don't say that what you see is documentary footage of me using my superior psychological techniques. And when we have these discussions in magic. But also allowing for the fact that people will do that anyway. for example. but I'm much more explicit about it in the interviews and commentary I did on the DVD. And this psychological form of magic is what I've come up with. And that's it. where the show is also surrounded by a lot of press and TV interviews and so on. So what do you think these days? What's your position? DERREN: My position at the moment is. that the bell curve. And it think it's a question of fine tuning that and taking responsibility. and that as I do this I'm going to get different waves of reaction. It's just a very obvious observation with no other information attached to it. that's not what life's . JAMY: Well. it's very easy to acknowledge--it should be stipulated. blah. having my cake and eating it. that certainly seems unarguable evidence that they are drawing education and information about the world from your work. This is what I tell people in interviews: I wanted to come up with a form of magic that was more thought provoking. my response to that would be that in considering the bell curve of possible responses. and I have to take responsibility for. if you will--that we cannot do much about the ends of the curve.. through my management. And I was having to e-mail these people. do get that. I've always said that.on the other hand it isn't hard science either. and mistake the characters for being real. if you like. I'm also using all sorts of other techniques to nudge things in my favor. Because I was just a bit disturbed by. And your thoughts have obviously evolved in that regard. I get very tired very quickly when I'm faced with the so-called argument that someone will always believe. But I absolutely tie it back to that. when you talk about people calling up the station and wanting to take a course in photo reading. my reaction is. the people in the middle. JAMY: But the fact of the matter is. So it's absolutely something that I have to think about. I do think it is an issue. saying that what you're seeing is not a documentary. and blah. JAMY: Well. So what? What I'm interested in is the big honking hulk of the center swell of the bell curve. these are effects. I don't want to have to create and defend something to that extent. whether we like it or not.
I don't think any actor tries to actually confuse the audience about whether or not he is about to die on stage. the reason we don't have to tell them is because they already know clearly. And every time a mentalist says to me. JAMY: So you think ambiguity is part of the point? DERREN: If it wasn't ambiguous. DERREN: Well. Because once that's not the situation. It's an odd situation because you're either going to come out and pretend it's something that it isn't.. And then you've got magic vs. And maybe that's just to me. it all encourages me in my feeling that it's pitched about right. At the end of the stage show I say. I think it's what makes it interesting. I don't mind making people uncomfortable. To me. mentalism. so that I want to balance nobody being upset or offended by it. the people that talk to me. The people I meet. I believe it's equally unhealthy for people to make life decisions based on false information from psychics as it is for people to make life decisions based on misunderstandings of what I do. and there's absolutely no confusion. I don't know. And to me what makes conjuring really interesting--and this may just be to me--but to me what makes conjuring truly interesting is to do the impossible in the face of someone who has absolute knowledge and confidence of what "impossible" means. I think there's normally very little ambiguity in magic effects. and it does play with beliefs in the reality of what's going on. Now it is religion. but it might just be collateral damage. Of what is possible.. well. or people making life decisions based on their misunderstanding of what are in essence a mentalist's super-normal psychological claims? DERREN: Years ago the issue was whether or not you told people it was psychic . it's an interesting issue. And part of making it as fun and entertaining as possible is creating ambiguity. JAMY: Right. for example... it's quite uncomfortable and it's quite strong. and continue to tweak that. once that clarity is absent. JAMY: So does that set magic apart from other forms of theater. the people I meet on the tour. I think it's a special case. for example? Is it the only one? DERREN: I don't know. a lot more theatrical. Somewhere along the line you're going to have to try to have your cake and eat it in a way that offers the minimum amount of problems. and maybe the line I take will soften a little. DERREN: Absolutely. because for me that's not what I want my life to be about. as I've said. but I don't think people have the moral gripe with me that they may have with Geller. I don't know. But at the end of it I absolutely blow it out. plausibility. And I'm ambiguous with them when they make those requests. To me it's about getting it right. It's a cheat. It's a big cheat that mentalists have relied on through the history of mentalism. DERREN: Sure . and that's not why I do what I do. But I think that some level of ambiguity is important. it wouldn't be challenging. we don't have to tell people that it's just a movie. and it's one that I don't have a neat answer for other than the fact that I have personal feelings on what I don't want to do. and the emails I get . and what is not possible. and all the rest of it. absolutely. JAMY: Well. and expose it as being not real. to me it's not theater at all anymore. but it has nothing to do with reality. JAMY: What's the difference between people's unhealthy decisions based on a selfdescribed psychic's claims. and address it when it comes up. And all I can do is continue to be sensitive about it. All I can tell you is it's a matter of degree. there's normally very little ambiguity I think with any other form of theater. I do it because I find it fun and entertaining. I just make it clear that what you've seen is not what it was. or you're going to retain a ambiguity. well. JAMY: Right. "Everything you've seen tonight is real." And throughout the show.about. the fans. and respond to things as they happen. I don't explain the exact methods I've used. but the request for the course materials on photo reading certainly demonstrate that they are willing to make life decisions. and that's what I would like people to get out of it. And I think it may be something that will be reflected in how the shows continue. especially the second half which is.
and really. it's a nail writer and a book test and so on and so forth. I would say to them. There's not a shred of scientific support for it. DERREN: And you're talking about that one amazing guy who was able to do that. plus a lot of mentalists. Now we're in a situation where we're into pop psychology. JAMY: Well. JAMY: Uh-huh.. it's yadda yadda yadda. and people are prepared to believe in that. it's just a complex and interesting one. and maybe in a way that's the new psychic realm. it's lie detection. DERREN: But I kind of think it is. It's not what I do. And if you hear me talking about it on television." JAMY: But you enlarge from the one person. I see. that there is such a thing as ESP. I will say. or I can go pay someone to help guide my life using the same tools. do that. DERREN: Oh. there are differing opinions on NLP. maybe I can learn it. I want to take a course in photo-reading. JAMY: Let's say they don't go off and do that. A substitution of one set of false claims for another set of false claims. outside of its own self-sustaining industry. "I'm using all sorts of techniques to control the situation. When you see a Uri Geller. in one way. they can actually do that and get something out of it. It's a real subject. If somebody came up to me and said.. this guy has it. DERREN: Well. DERREN: Yes. In the same way I've taken NLP courses and learned some NLP. I mean. If you go and then look into lie detection through body language. it's that. I know that psychic powers are real because this person told me about my relationship. I want to take a course in body language. It's not the same as saying. there is such a thing as . If it was limited to the one guy they wouldn't be asking you about a course. there is such a thing as lie detection from body language. JAMY: So you're referring to speed reading and memory techniques there. I think if somebody goes off and learns photo reading or goes off and learns to be a hypnotherapist or whatever. and I'm going to go to an NLP course. Let's say they just go off assuming they've learned something about it from his magic tricks. but no in another way. since they exist. And isn't it just substituting one lie for another lie? Is he really doing any better than a guy who says. it's all nonsense. I really liked your show. "Look. draw the conclusion from that. but here's what you'll get out of it. but I've done it and think in some contexts there's some use--that's a whole other conversation--but it's a dirty word as far as I'm concerned. It's a mentalism show. if you want to do that. DERREN: Well. I not a big a fan of it.because people were prepared to believe in psychic ability--and how far down that road do you take them. JAMY: Well. "I'm actually psychic?" Is he doing any better service to his audience? Or to the truth? DERREN: I think there is a difference. "Well. JAMY: But today it's become almost standard practice for mentalists to couch their work in claims like it's body language. Gee. We can go down the list. It's part of what I do. JAMY: What exactly would you learn in a course on photo-reading? DERREN: I've done a course on photo reading and you learn "photo reading"--speed reading techniques. it's not just limited to the one guy. it's this. JAMY: Right. all these huge industries. what you're saying there is there's this amazing guy who could tell what drawing someone had drawn just by their body language or whatever." which I've had happen. Well. I think that's fair enough to say. you therefore perhaps learn from that. and NLP [Neuro Linguistic Programming]. I don't think you can just substitute one for the other. Is that more or less misleading or dangerous than now I want to take a course in how to improve my ESP? What's the difference? Is there a difference? DERREN: The difference is presumably that you can do a course on body language and you can do a course on photo-reading and you will learn a bit about body language and learn about photo-reading. you find out actually it's quite a complex and interesting and valid. And it's the same thing you enlarge from this guy. "Oh. and be in . it depends on whose course you take." which is I think true.
you come up with a real world of real research.. that haven't ended up like that. But unlike saying "He is psychic and therefore I'm going to go pay some money to this psychic now and have him tell me to break up a relationship. we challenge. which is absolutely true." And the only magicians I can think of. Because you look into that world and you just get duped. and it's enormously valuable. so don't pretend it's real. It's a huge area of research. in terms of famous magicians that have that audience. which is entertainment. and you get told to make decisions based on false information. I think if you realize the value of having a director. he jokes that he sees more of me than he sees of his wife. you know. he can take a shuffled deck of cards and pull out a poker hand from it. oh. as opposed to just slowly running out of ideas. What I do there on television. it's not as easy as I thought. And that way it's good." well. So I now know more what I want to see me doing. And don't mistake what I'm doing." You're just attributing it to the performer and his skills. And I think there's a real inherent problem with magicians that they end up being hated. JAMY: And are you feeling the pressure yet of the difficulty . "Look.. I can't ever imagine doing a stage show now without a director. or that my parents don't trust me. We do think so similarly. Because it's as if that character that I'm playing--which. We work really closely. and create an effect at the end of the day. JAMY: And he directed the live show? DERREN: Andy did. hopefully. It couldn't be. and to know you're being fooled. weirdly. and then you're either going to find out that. is it the same creative team? Is it a lot of you and Andy Nyman? DERREN: Yes. or you're going to discover that actually this is quite interesting. great. is me--has become more defined. I love Bullshit [Penn & Teller's Showtime series]. You know what I mean? You're not getting people into the same shark pool at all. I'm going to learn about these things. "Well. after a while you want to pull him down a few notches and say." I am quite open about that. I think it's a very different thing. that's kind of like saying. Part II: November 7. going forward with the new series. and the luxury of having a director. and it's very useful for me. But mainly Andy. equally. because it feels like it's moving forward. Because to make the shows. we still work on everything together. Because as delightful as it is to be fooled. and what I expect and where I want to push it. and to bring the material in. The other four months are touring and working on that. well. it seems to get easier. So although ultimately it's up to me to drive it in terms of ideas and so on.charge of it. and certainly with the eight-part series and the two specials. we know it's just technique. or pulling apart the New Age stuff. 2004 Predicting The Future JAMY: So. are Penn & Teller. If you look into the world of interpersonal psychology and body reading and all of those things. Everything we've done seems as if it's fresh. any difficulty in filling this endless insatiable maw of television with material? DERREN: No. each other. it's not that simple in real life. Along with another friend of mine. weirdly. for the real thing. . that guy is great. and just having that extra head. I mean." or whatever. if you know the guy out there appears to be taking it seriously. It's always been about something outside of themselves. And that's because their agenda has never been about themselves. And if somebody goes away and says "That that guy is great because he can just memorize an entire book like that in 20 minutes. So it is constant. that takes eight months of the year. okay. I really don't believe that. Whether that's pulling apart magic. and it's actually very complex. until it fizzles out.
and at the moment it feels like it gets more interesting to do it. it is so difficult as a magician to make that step and decide you are going to work with a director. where we ran it and were just learning how to work with an audience of 400. "That's the best night I've ever seen. Do you still beat your wife? ( Laughter ) It is very useful having people like Andy and Andrew O'Connor around to be the first to tell me if I start to believe my own hype." And having Andrew O'Connor go. And I've found a couple of things that we'd love to do but we've done something similar before. and then realize that you can absolutely trust his opinion of your abilities over your own. and I think that the important things are to have an agenda that isn't just your own ego. One thing I've really learned. I was just flying.Magicians. is that self-indulgence. and particularly in magic and mentalism. I remember Judy Densch interviewed ages ago. Especially the humility. Since magicians never work with directors they're prone to indulgence and a really misjudged sense of what effect you think you're having. If you're really committed to making something beautiful. that happens. fooling yourself into thinking you're doing something you're not. first of all in the little studio theatre. And those are things that don't come easily. Has that changed things for you? DERREN: The Russian Roulette did change a few things. and try and keep things fresh and not stale." And at the time I didn't really get it." and being told that it was quite poor. I was getting a bit sick of the frock coat and the weird hair." And equally. And that thing has become quite addictive to me. but generally it just feels easier. coming off and thinking. like I said about having a director. ( Laughter ) JAMY: And to have an idea of something. which is all that matters. and then learning how to work with an audience of 2. coming off nights going. Just doing it. that was amazing. Occasionally. isn't it? ( Laughter ) The question is like. and I guess because now I'm thinking in terms of me and what I want to do. Aside from just the ego issues that come with that. It's almost as if you have become a bit famous or something. and be generous with the credit. the material becomes more defined. You've got the credit for things that aren't necessarily yours. I've been aware of it from the beginning. But I've realized that doing that same show every night on tour. and what's out there. "By god. so you've won that game. And I think it should always feel that you are challenging yourself and genuinely moving forward. you just do get tired of them. and asked by the interviewer. and not believe your own hype when you step into the rehearsal room. you're surrounded by people that just tell you nice things about yourself. and one of the moves forward was to a looser look and feel. I thought it was false modesty. The payoff was so great. so the least you can do within your work is to give credit where it's due. You realize that your internal sense has nothing to do with what you have externally achieved. "What was your best performance?" And her answer was. and it does seem to get easier. too. That Victorian gothic thing I had is gone. I hope that will always be reflected in the material. You know. I can only ever talk about what I'm working on at the moment. Russian Roulette JAMY: The Russian Roulette special was wildly successful by any measure. I've no idea. and again. JAMY: So you've changed your look somewhat? . to have a bit of humility. a vision just beyond your own success? And maybe part of that vision is an artistic vision. "Well. doing the stage show was such a learning curve. You know. I think many people are more committed to success than they are to presenting something beautiful. and you've got all the nice things that come with it. DERREN: Agreed. You'd have to ask the directors I've worked with.000. so I can't do it again. It's now got a slightly '60s feel to it. as opposed to making a mentalism show. And I'm aware of that now. JAMY: And is the humility a challenge in the face of all this celebrity? DERREN: It's an impossible one to answer. "That was a bad night. It's important.
essentially that's all taped material. talk to me about the aftermath and the reaction. and I have to tell what number he's thinking of. of about a minute and a half of me just sitting there doing nothing. Because the idea of doing it was to take something which is in essence a classic magic plot but just do it absolutely seriously and authentically. and then I came back on the Monday to find that it was just massive news. who it's now been whittled down to. normally if you do live stuff you've got an ear-piece and a gallery talking to you. Because the Jersey Parliament out there got into huge trouble for letting it happen.DERREN: Just a little bit. it marked the difference I think between me being on the map and not on the map. And there were lots of complaints beforehand that it was going to glamorize guns and everything. DERREN: That's all prerecorded. that felt a little bit different. So that went out on the Sunday. somebody raised this issue of was it real or not. it was great. more relaxed gun laws. And then I have him count from one to six. and was it disgusting and pornographic and tawdry. loads a bullet into one of the six chambers. Because I'd never done anything live on TV before. And yes. JAMY: Well. I can't remember when a magic special ever engendered a national debate of the nature of illusion. Which meant that it just turned into this big debate all the next week as to whether it was real or not real. down to five people who were chosen from that hundred. It's a bit cooler. you know. So there was a little bit about it in the paper but not by much. DERREN: Well. which it really didn't. I remember there was this 30-second period when we were waiting to go on air. so I came back to hundreds of messages. although they're the same newspapers we get here. Give us a brief summary. and it fulfilled that goal. I used to script things very tightly and I don't anymore. and given the nature of what I'm doing. and it was just extraordinary. or was it great showmanship. And then those five were taken to Jersey. And in the last 10 minutes. it was good. it was a bit of a step forward. and then I have to somehow fire that one into the sandbag and the other five safely into my head. or what number chamber he's thinking about. they got into trouble for it. or feeling guilty about. And also knowing it was going out in other countries as well.. with a slight delay. that you were willing to wait so painfully long. And I did a few shots and then there was this long pause after I got one wrong. and the story is that this guy. down to a hundred people who were invited to London. The first 50 minutes of the show followed this whittling down process of anyone that applied throughout the whole country. which are numbered. So yes. The show does feel different. and that allowed us to do it there. JAMY: That's really very interesting. was it just a hoax . and then I suddenly picked it up and fired it. JAMY: And what happened in those last 10 minutes? DERREN: Well it was pretty nerve wracking. that there was this argument. which is this little British island off the mainland that has slightly different. And then we went into the thing. JAMY: And the 50 minutes. and we couldn't do any of that. And the Russian Roulette. I was the third most talked about person in the country that following week ( Laughs ). it was just great. and should I have been allowed to do it.. Right? . as I'm sure you know. through a series of games and tests and so on. This is the thing that several colleagues thought was so terrific. I couldn't be .. and looser. That's my impression of what happened. DERREN: It was too long. they're different editions. or the pistol clarification is slightly different. and part of its raison d'être was obviously a publicity stunt. It was widely watched and widely reported. ( Laughter ) And then it was odd because I didn't realize that of course the papers out in Jersey. I heard about this very long wait before I saw it. down to five. obviously. JAMY: Right. and more importantly. the game itself was live. let's start with that.. Talk to me more about the Russian Roulette. And then I came home to find out actually it was quite big news. Which was important if anything did go horribly wrong then. that somewhere along the line. Because my mobile phone didn't work over there.
The arguments that came out against it all fell a bit flat. three million people watched it. The only thing I ever said was that I'm legally not allowed to tell you that they were live bullets. "Oh. ( Laughter ) But now it's balanced out. or said. But of course it was the first thing I'd done where I'd put my head above the parapet. but I read about it. People just seem to have their own opinions about it. really. "Look at me. JAMY: They're the ones minimizing the danger. The very press that were saying that this shouldn't happen were now saying.. but 10 million people were reading it in the papers. spoke for itself. exactly. Which I thought was great." or whatever. or it was a blank bullet. "Did you watch it?" He went. I didn't watch it. and I explained. as it were." He said. no. Nothing. JAMY: Really? You never said anything either way. DERREN: No. So it was always easy for me to undo any explanations that came up. that's spectacular. But the thing is. I got in a cab a couple of days later. DERREN: Exactly. I never commented on it. It dealt with the issue of blank bullets. I did the Russian Roulette over the weekend. the irony was . it was obviously a blank. on the way to some press meeting about it. I felt. Which of course was very frustrating. therefore it's safe." And it was just so frustrating." And of course you then have to take the criticism and the flak that comes after that. JAMY: We had a movie star a couple of years ago here in the States who did just that and died. because the show. But luckily nothing like that ever happened. I'm doing something. 'Oh. It was kind of more interesting not saying anything. JAMY: Well. I don't know. all the people were stooges. DERREN: It was frustrating at the time because it all felt misplaced and misguided. JAMY: And eventually you actually came out and said something about this? DERREN: Well. JAMY: That the critics were making it appear more safe! DERREN: Exactly. Isn't that interesting. And so eventually it just kind of faded away. and this was the first time I was saying. Although at the time. and it's fair enough that people could now take shots at it." And now some kid's gonna go out and play it with a blank bullet thinking it was safe. I think that was the only comment I ever made. But you know. But I didn't ever want to. DERREN: Yes. And I think that actually it worked extremely well for me. what would you have said? DERREN: Well. and I said I'm a magician. So that was frustrating. JAMY: Oh. had you had the chance to say something. "Well. And this cab driver asked me what I did for a living. and not giving out a flippant message. I couldn't. or whatever the phrase is.DERREN: Yes. "You know." and of course we know as magicians that if you fire a blank bullet against your skull it's still going to hurt you. JAMY: So you never commented on it one way or the other? DERREN: No. it was the first time I think I'd come across any negative press. There were no legal after effects. DERREN: And then obviously we're gonna get the blame for that. yeah! That was all fake.. . Like. "No. DERREN: No. Because until that point I was always somebody that somebody had discovered. "Oh. and all those things that in themselves just couldn't explain it. it just faded away. you should watch this guy. You see the problem was we couldn't really say anything about it from our side because there was this potentially massive police inquiry hanging over it. wasn't it?" I said.. JAMY: Right. So we just had to not really say anything. especially because we'd taken it so seriously in terms of the safety aspects. because there was guy who was saying. it was just a blank bullet. JAMY: And so the controversy ended open-ended as to whether it was real or not.
this is me saying it. JAMY: And did the second half remain secret? DERREN: It did! I couldn't believe it. and the second half was more theatre. and then I would talk about a friend of mine who died. and it was just terrific. JAMY: And the press never reported it. How many seats? DERREN: Just under 2000. And then we went into using a Ouija board to actually contact him. the press didn't write about it. We see his name on a tee-shirt. no one was talking about it. JAMY: Right! ( Laughter ) DERREN: So the audience are invited to call out letters of the alphabet to spell a boy's name. Their son and my dead friend. And it was just a dream come true. and then there will be a tour followed by another West End run of that show.. Nobody talked about it. And the idea will be to do a new show every year. and had a few production values put into it. they're watching the show. You couldn't read about it on the Internet. I had done that show over three years. it was séance themed. JAMY: Wow. where Les Miserables has been on for 19 years. It was extended from two weeks to three. followed by a West End run. but without blowing my own trumpet. but it was really lovely that people did do that. and kind of laughter as well. The first half was essentially cabaret. It absolutely would cover tears. So that was hugely exciting. And most nights. real shock. then they read out a letter of his that was written for a job interview before he died in which he gives a lot of information about himself.Live And Learn JAMY: How have the live tours gone. It was in probably the most prestigious theatre in the West End as well. physical . So after we finish working on this series in the middle of January. the show with the secret second half? DERREN: Well. and later on it comes out that that was his name. and it was just great. Because it's similar to the séance special.. I was loving it. it will start in the middle of March. So immediately it's quite uncomfortable for everybody. I did it again this year. I mean. then I'm straight on to working on the next tour. JAMY: And how did you stage the séance live? DERREN: Well. talk about the fraudulent basis for spiritualism. And a couple of people come up as potential mediums. well. DERREN: I think by the very end of it. JAMY: Really? And so can you talk to us at this point at all about the second half? DERREN: Oh. But it was important that people be taken along for that ride. and had just moved. it was important that people not know. and it all matches up. JAMY: What theatre was that? DERREN: It's the Palace Theatre. They spell a boy's name. they then go into more intense questioning. but tonight is a bit different because the parents of my best friend who died nine years ago are in tonight.. it was the most successful thing in London for that period. I would talk about the Fox Sisters. And how long was the second half? DERREN: Both halves were about 55 minutes each. the same tour. Which was . a few little things were starting to be talked about. the second half was a séance.. the next live show. And I'm asking questions that I know are answered in that letter. and you realize at the end that it couldn't have been real. DERREN: Yup. Which will be a brand new show. there'd be tears as the woman was reading it. I keep the more accurate ones. JAMY: Fantastic. I was doing the Ouija . well. But in order for it to work. and with their permission we're going to try and contact him. And the idea was that normally what we would do now is try to contact one of the relatives of the people of you guys in the audience. after that third year. Had a big set built for it. Essentially. We try a few exercises where they handle some of his belongings and give character descriptions that they're getting. JAMY: I see. real jumps.
I know it can be very exposing and nerve-wracking nonetheless. So we allow the board just to spell out whatever it wants to. and I'll ask you to go back down. this is the idea. At that point. but I want to thank you for coming up and doing this. and everybody's very involved in it. 2003. and everybody jumps. STEVEN. yup. and it just relied on how Ouija boards work. it's picked the 2003 again. and it's spelling something.. spectacular! This is thrilling to hear you describe this." "Yes. it says 2003. Mix the cards up." All the way through the show there's this thing of.." And I'm looking at the guy here. "What year did this person die?" And he says.. and did that. The person you're thinking about. "I lied to all of you. (A). and lived here. Hold my hand. and I ask him. Christ. At that point the table goes. on each tour and then in the West End run." "And he did this.. and in the end. it's the wrong one. and (B) it never didn't work! And one of the Ouija board tests is that the spirit is asked to identify the year that it died. JAMY: What do you say in the debunking? DERREN: I say. and when that guy comes up at the end. was a he. So the girls shriek and jump back. The second half is about focussing and amplifying that suggestibility. but they've still got their fingers on the glass. look at me . say yes. "I don't believe we contacted a spirit tonight. And we put those letters out. "I lied to you. I stand him there and I then debunk the whole of the séance." "Yes. oh. until a handful of you just throw yourself open. And then I get that guy up on stage. And it's when you're in that state that I can see right into you. it doesn't look like anything.. and the table shakes. saying that these were used to announce the arrival of a spirit at a séance--this bell flies off the table at the side of the stage. and it goes to another one. have you been thinking of somebody who died while this has been going on?" And he says yes. Because mentalists say . we're not in touch with your grandfather. "Well. it's a man. So all the letters are face down as well. "He used to work . And I don't see it. and over the three years it never once didn't work. behind me. remember. turn it over: Oh. And I've just said to him. but it could be ROW A. ringing it. So we get the whole audience holding hands. and the whole audience see it as well. and I put down the four dates on cards but face down. it's like. maybe R-O-W-A-S-T-T-N or something. "I lied to you. so as to eliminate any possibility of just psychological expectations. and the glass is moving around. his name is David. but it's a real moment." "Great. you are intelligent enough to know this is not psychic. "2003. The whole of the show is about this moment.. At this point the bell--that I've come out with at the very beginning of the second half. So we do it again. it's behind me." It becomes a bit of a common thread. a florist. and then I say. face the front.." "Yes!" Oh! Big gasp. all I need is you in the right state of mind. and we're using an inverted wine glass as a planchette. and everyone's doing the hyperventilating and breathing in time." You've got the gasp from the audience as they realize that was the date that the Ouija board kept telling us. And then I just finish with an absolute on the nose reading about the person that he knew that died.. or one person stands or whatever. and it's great because then only about half of the audience see it as well. and I just don't see it move. and we know that my friend Steven died in 1994 or whatever. the two gals have still got their hands on the table. "I don't need the cards or the glass or the table. it was your grandfather. we're turning over the letters. we never contacted a real spirit. and I write down four dates." "And his name is . you know. JAMY: Oh. we turn it over." and I can't get the name. You know. Are you happy doing this?" "Yes. "Look.." So he goes back down and that's how it ended.. The first half is about making you laugh and making you suggestible. So I go on.board every night for 40 nights or whatever. "And what year did that person die?" And he says. I don't think we contacted Steven. he worked in a florist. And it goes to one of the cards. So now it feels like it's going wrong." and I keep trying to get the name and I can't get the name. So the cards with the letters are face down. So we realize we've been contacting his relative. and lived there. "And his name is . if something is correct. his name is ." and so on. And you know what? Maybe I never even had a friend called Steven who died in a car crash when I was young. "Is there a Steven in Row A?" So a few people stand up in Row A called Steven. it was 2003.
DERREN: Absolutely. You know. Everything you see me perform in the show is the result of a varied mixture of those techniques. hopefully.. and so on. "None of that is real. I think the answer would be yes. To me it's more provocative to say it than to let them go out with some comfort level of belief. in the midst of this dramatic revelation. DERREN: I think that's it." or whatever. if you said to somebody afterwards. We were going to shoot it before the Russian Roulette. And we had to pull it three days away from filming because there were legal issues around that. well. when you. And I realized that after the Russian Roulette I was by no means a household name. Often saying it after. But equally if you said. of revealing real information--what do you think people take away from that? Are you disappointing them? DERREN: No. And whereas beforehand it was about trying to get noticed. but now I was established in what I was doing. and I thought. for people. So we thought we'd simply do it later and concentrate on the Russian Roulette instead. And so all they can do is question. concerning the Simon Singh article. Which is why I think. I think it's very interesting to then say. Just to soften all of that because otherwise it could just start to get annoying. So the question is. then yes. and I'm not going to do that We're going to do it in some way that's theatrical and part of the show and part of the point of view. "This show fuses magic. And that's it. " JAMY: Really? DERREN: It's great.you can't do this. I think you can. "Well. or too much." Well. or a series of dramatic revelations--one of the dramatic revelations being that it's not real." JAMY: A lot of our conversation 18 months ago was about this. the other is the dramatic revelations of the effect. misdirection and showmanship. now if I'm becoming established. similar to those used by the Victorian mediums. exactly. suggestion. they say. So the séance changed quite a bit. the claims that I making.. when you've taken people on that journey. and some of the negative press? DERREN: I'll tell you one interesting thing that came out of it. it's just the knife edge. "Do you think this is a really interesting way of approaching magic? And did you feel drawn in by it. And you were arguing very strongly for the need for the element of ambiguity. you're not going to do that. there's no answer given to them. then yes. it then changed the way we did the séance. . Now because of the Russian Roulette. that has to balance with me backing off slightly in terms of the character that I have. and they've really invested and they've had that emotional response to it. "I will be using fraudulent techniques." JAMY: Yes. They insist this. which we were also working on at the same time. isn't it? It's just that they don't have an answer. and really staking a claim in what I was doing. Every episode begins now with a very clear statement. At no point are actors or stooges used in the show. it is interesting! Because like we were talking about before. it's provocative. they take this as an article of faith that you simply cannot tell them that it's fake and expect to have a response. or whatever. They say you simply can't.. suggestion . And mentalists also create this straw man. you can't just tell them it's all a trick. And I'm most proud of the séance because those people are taken to the edge of what they can take. it then changed. "Would you be disappointed if you found out that was just magic tricks?" Then I think if you phrase it in that way. JAMY: And so what do you think . A Clear Statement JAMY: And so how do you come away from the experience of the Russian Roulette. psychology. "This program fuses magic. then I think that they will agree. will these fraudulent techniques work with a modern skeptical audience?" JAMY: Really? DERREN: Yes! And the series now begins with me saying. This séance was originally going to be shot for when the Russian Roulette came out. I started off saying very openly..
might say. we should be even more ambiguous. So my feeling was that if there was a way of still maintaining. We should be even more controversial. still maximizing the impact of the effects. " JAMY: ". getting a tiger by the tail and getting a taste of success. this was not something you were very loud about. and all the things that you adore talking about with fellow performers because some method or something is so satisfying and delightful.. JAMY: Right! So it seems to me that what you're saying--and correct me. okay. I adore it. is you want to keep the mystery but you want to avoid the dishonesty. asking for advice. it still is. You're accountable for that. which is pre-Russian Roulette. or need to do. I'm now in this for the long run. and the message I wanted to give out. Because some of the stuff I do is magic based and some of it is genuinely suggestion based. I love doing it. what do I want to be saying? It's difficult to describe. and I still maintain it's not all tricks. I would happily walk away from it if I could maintain the lifestyle that I've got.. When I say at the beginning it's a mixture of psychological techniques and magic. I mean. for example. but allowing people in to appreciate the process or the thinking behind it. but equally. say." You could have taken that tack. I'm accountable for interviews that I do. But there was definitely a shift in what I wanted to say. and now that responsibility that comes with it. Certainly some. I do hold by that. in order to continue to increase this. or do or say anything in order to be successful. "Oh. you weren't really . There's a difference between trying to get established. okay. I think. no? DERREN: I don't know. So you make up some line that isn't true..DERREN: Well. which was a little bit different. those are all the things that you're not allowed to talk to the general public about. We should be making even more claims. exactly. but it's not something I feel I definitely need. I'm now on that map. possibly if the Russian Roulette had never been questioned. people will sniff that and know it. or doing something else that I enjoy.. DERREN: Yes... that never felt right to me. that's relevant because you want to be comfortable with what you're doing. painting. sure. and there is a mixture. Now. because you're still mixing the list of claims.. JAMY: But now.. But there was a process of thinking. DERREN: Exactly. But because it's not essentially true.. I don't want to put the wrong words in your mouth--but it seems to me that what you're saying is. JAMY: What do you mean by responsibility? DERREN: I mean that the line that you take and the message that you give out is being picked up by more people. then it was important to me to clarify the message.. But the difference is that I've become established. DERREN: Yes. and I want to feel comfortable and enjoying it when I'm being interviewed about it and . and anybody emailing me. And certainly not about the use of deception. it just never occurred to me. it's a difficult line. And also.. I'm now in a situation where the line that I take is more important that it was before... JAMY: And you say that because . JAMY: You don't want to hang onto it any cost. in a tantalizing way .. that's not an automatic conclusion to draw. I wanted to try and do it in a way that was as honest as possible. although it said you had a magic background on the website. It felt like. absolutely. Because people do. " DERREN: "We should be even more . we should . So the idea of just saying. and the series and everything that came out of that. and post the Russian Roulette. and that kind of thing. absolutely. I didn't want to give myself an ulcer defending something . JAMY: Well. maybe I'd have thought about that for longer. So that it's something that I want to be comfortable and enjoyable. between the early days of wanting to get established-when I think it does make sense to exaggerate your claims a little--and then to. once I'm there. it's all magic tricks. DERREN: No. But still. oh. In the back of my mind I knew that all the things that make mentalism interesting.
which focussed on the subject of claims. As in. There are people who will do it well and people that do it badly. is to attribute it to different mechanisms.when I'm talking about it. and 11 of them believed that these things you had accomplished were by psychological means rather than magic methods." So it actually came as quite a useful opportunity to clarify that. for example. otherwise you ruin the whole thing. I think it's a very interesting area of magic. I think it has potential for being repugnant. I thought the two most interesting ideas of this piece were that. the dark side of it that we don't like. There've been a couple of things that have come up where . rather it's that it gave you the opportunity perhaps to assume more responsibility? DERREN: Yes. to attribute it to body language and psychology and all of this kind of thing. And another angle. this is the point. One is the longstanding notion among mentalists that it must be ambiguous. What do you think about that? DERREN: In a way it's difficult to answer. "Well. And second. with regard to the science of psychology. JAMY: Right. and try and expose. "Well. in areas of it. you can't tell them either way. and not make a psychic claim . and showmanship. JAMY: These questions become even more interesting and important when you consider that in the magic world there is a groundswell of almost faddish popularity right now of mentalism. And it is about performance. spiritualist end of it. because I've ended up being so separated from what's happening in the magic fraternity that I'm not so aware of those trends. what is your reaction to this?" And I think that what the article ended up doing for me was that it allowed me to say. and to just allow that more honest approach to settle comfortably around me. In the States. JAMY: So it's not that the fame and the controversy over the Russian Roulette somehow scared you. especially for example selling it in the corporate sector. That's one angle. But I'm sure it's a good thing. with regard to this notion of claims and the never-ending conversation about that. like anything. I mean. he claims that you thereby ultimately do a disservice to the science of psychology. he casually surveyed 16 people after one of your live shows.. it's like packet tricks were in the '70s. DERREN: A lot of journalists asked me about it. Which is a perfectly understandable objection. Which was great! Which made it a very positive thing. JAMY: The writer said he was a fan of magic and in fact very much enjoyed your work. I think his main frustration point was that the show was classified under the science part of the Channel 4 website. I don't know how many book tests there are on the market right now. that's it. DERREN: And my feelings on it now are actually that it was a good thing. Hopefully part of the fun is working out where the real stuff ends and the cheating starts. And then you've got the potential for very resonant and interesting performance. there was an article in the Telegraph by Simon Singh. yes. as in the fraudulent psychic. first. increasingly commonplace today. and all the rest of it. and as well among amateur interests. or any sense of criticism. JAMY: What do you mean. let's return to some of what we discussed previously. but took issue with the nature of the claims you were making.. I think. mentalism has become this phenomenon. they have to believe there's an element of reality to it. And that was one of the first somewhat critical pieces of press about you. there are two things that seem to be going on. isn't it? And I can't see it as a bad thing if more and more people are doing it. I think what's happened. I don't think the fact that the numbers increase and there are a lot more people doing it changes that. the wheat and the chaff will sort themselves out. It is a mixture of real stuff and not real stuff. I think it's like anything else. without that being an awkward or difficult task to do. The more I got asked about any sense of exposure. JAMY: But specifically. Because you can't accomplish these things through established scientific norm. But it's a very rich area. it allowed me to clearly state that position. "the dark side?" DERREN: Oh.
I did my stage show in London and then sometime after that another mentalist was doing his show in London. JAMY: Right. This is why as debunking goes. although I'm telling you the sorts of things that I use. I'd say that. and hopefully question those same possibilities for you from the other side. But actually the ability to provide a magic that is a little bit more resonant. what you're telling me now is that in the past year or so. And it's at its best. absolutely. But for me. then I'll show you something that's impossible and make you question that at some level. It's not that on the nose. not doing the real. that the words "magic" and "deception" and "cheating. and acknowledging that it's an illusion. Equally. it doesn't have to come with being established. therefore question what the mind is capable of. DERREN: Yes. And I'm not telling you how I do it. unmistakably if I understand you correctly. I think for me that's always a good thing." whatever you want to call it. of course--but until you reach a point that feels . if it challenges a belief system. You're right. because you could choose to go the other route. but not now. It would take the beauty out of it. doesn't it? And that effect is reached. that was a great trick. And not in a trite kind of. then I'll show you the same thing and tell you that it's not paranormal." I don't mean that. DERREN: Absolutely. I may have hinted at that at the beginning. for me. I think that it's a line that I'll constantly have to work out. isn't it? And it is supposed to get under your skin. hook. and you don't feel that's as terrible a crime as somebody on a national television program saying they're really contacting the dead or they really are psychic. line and sinker. You know. And yet it seems to me that even though you're thoroughly in the milieu of all that. I think it's great for him. I think what mentalism can offer--genuinely can offer--is that reaction of people questioning what is possible and what isn't. because while you're keeping that list out there. "This is super psychology. why? DERREN: Because it would just feel ugly. and I remember he was being interviewed in one magazine and they were saying. no one really knows who he is. You feel it's worse when you're more successful and have that larger audience. and doesn't just have people go. There's no way I could say that. I wouldn't feel comfortable now saying everything you see is the use of abnormal super psychology skill. he could stand there and say it's genuine psychic ability. because he's in a slightly different situation here from me. you are being a little. or maybe a lot. are part of the list. my experience of it is that you should become more and more honest. "This is like Derren Brown with all the tricks taken out." and then move on. JAMY: But it has nothing to do with spelling out methods. until you reach a point that--and obviously you're never going to spell out your methods.. Magicians don't need to spell out their methods in order to clearly state to the audience that they are professional deceivers. DERREN: True. as you're getting established. "Yeah. he's a hired-in act. It's just if you are a skeptic and you refuse to accept any kind of anomalistic possibilities of anything. And that doesn't mean that I say. And on that way up. if you take the situation of just a cabaret mentalist who does 45 minutes after a meal. The beauty is in the illusion.. yes. I don't think there's an easy answer. but I will acknowledge the fact that I'm being ambiguous on purpose. But it seem to me you're saying that part of the beauty is to get the credit for doing the illusion of the impossible. "Oh." It's not that.." Which is great.about it. but the point is that ultimately it kind of works. it is more resonant. I don't mean just buying it. if it makes people question things a little bit. and there is some ambiguity about it in what I say. But rather to do something that says to people. JAMY: And there's no way you could say it. it makes me really question what the mind's capable of. you're adding very clearly. for my own experience with it. JAMY: And what do you think about that? DERREN: Well. if you're a believer in the paranormal and you absolutely buy those things. more clear than the rest of them. I've chosen a route of not--and you see this in the séance .
at least for the moment-whereas many mentalists have long made the argument that you need to actually perch them on the side that says it must be magic--that is. JAMY: Right. but there's a sense it can do that. very well done. but of just taking a kind of third way with it.. But what mentalism as opposed to conjuring offers is that the effects get under your skin more. It can't be magic. it must be magic. real magic. it is about maintaining that precarious knife edge and leaving them there. which I think is absolutely of worth. you can't get that same impact. sometimes even a color change. and where belief systems are everywhere. this isn't real. or this is a mixture of this. JAMY: And I think what we're talking about here is that that's much less interesting than leaving them stuck in the middle. and especially in this age when there are the TV spiritualists. DERREN: Yes. I think there is a potency in it. DERREN: It's really a challenge. and on the other side it says what they already know. or just letting it sit there in a way that people know it is there to . but ultimately that's where you want them--on the knife edge. And that the best kind of magic perches them on that knife edge. But you can be provocative without trying to change their basic understanding what's real about the world. in a way. whether it's a skeptical mindset or a New Age believer's mindset. it can shake up belief systems a little bit. And he says that the whole point of magic is that you present an argument to the spectator that essentially perches them on a knife edge. isn't it? JAMY: Exactly! DERREN: Because mentalism is so intimate. exactly. But at a distance. and its invocation of the experience of mystery. Mentalism has the possibility of doing that. and--as in all areas of magic and mentalism more so than anything else--you can absolutely fool yourself as a performer into thinking you're having that effect or not. But at a distance. and being shaken up. Which a normal magic trick doesn't because you know that you're just suspending your disbelief and that's it. and they simply cannot comfortably step off. It's a little pretentious saying that. I think mentalism gives you a great angle on that. You're right.. And I really try to avoid ever giving the answers. And I think that what's come out of it for me is that it's only ever about raising those questions. Of just presenting and saying. and what the audience clearly actually felt. JAMY: Well. JAMY: Make them question themselves and the experience. Where on the one side of the blade it says it must be magic. and that part of the real problem with the limitations of conjuring has to do with distance. like Three Card Monte. which is it can't be magic. physical conjuring can really provoke someone. JAMY: I also think that there's a range of ways that you can get under their skin. DERREN: So it's about intimacy then maybe. because you've provided all this evidence for that. that can be very provocative. Whit Hayden has written some very interesting magic theory in the last couple of years in a couple of books that he's done about con games. DERREN: I agree. JAMY: Yes. will make somebody just jump out of their seat. I think that's right: it is a sense of intimacy. And it was very interesting looking at that difference and seeing what the magician felt the impact was that he was having. this. you feel it more keenly because it's more resonant. And I think this is the wonderful thing about magic. and this.special--of not actively debunking. I think the reason some really good sleight-ofhand conjurors get into mentalism is because I think that it's very hard to really challenge people at a distance with conjuring. Whereas with close-up magic. I completely agree with you. And it clearly was just a card trick and was treated as a card trick. you know. where the . I agree with you. if you will. DERREN: I think what mentalism can do is it can question presumptions. Yes. I've seen a magician present a card trick and clearly think that he is touching on some profound issues that are really having that emotional effect on a spectator. so that knife edge. I think that good art is provocative. That within a certain range. and mystery. And yes.
it's great. And of course maybe that's exactly as it should be. DERREN: Absolutely. suspend your disbelief. and I don't think there's an easy answer. DERREN: But it's interesting. I remember you talking about the bell curve before. there's always a sense that people know. You know. "What I love about the show is the fact that you know that some of it's real and some of it isn't. I was delighted a while ago when I was reading on my forum--there's a discussion board on my website--and somebody brought up--either about the Russian Roulette or about something on the series--and suggesting that it was a cheat. no. without me just exposing methods and saying. and no matter how much I worked on the presentation. that's great. And if you give them this information. and I don't know what is. it's inside their head. The reason why I first got into mentalism material was to provide the best magic that I could. And of course but now that's my responsibility. But now what's interesting is that I'm realizing more about what I set out to do. and I know that there will be people on either end of that bell curve that will always have their opinions. hopefully. hey. And it goes back to what I said. It's important that you don't fully understand. DERREN: No. "I am being ambiguous about this because that's important. because. and it wasn't real. because the moment you fully understand. JAMY: But it's still about really questioning in the moment. or wow. And I think probably some level of ambiguity is important. And I love it if somebody stops me in the street and says. if . mentalism remains intimate. I realized that if somebody thought of a card.physical conjuring's impact fades. and eventually that moved into performing essentially mentalism material but within a magic set. Well. but expecting and indeed embracing the bull's return to life afterward as the spectator returns to reality. as you said. as soon as I start. you really are giving them all the information. "Wow. And that thing that is purely about questioning. duh! What are you saying. and provide the strongest experience I could. but a frustration with the material. but in order to do it as well as I could. JAMY: Right. and it doesn't matter in the end because it really has an effect and makes me spend the next two hours talking to my wife about what you just did. because you're giving them the tools to find their way back to reality. "Well. So there is a sense of they can share in the joy of what makes it so great. again: All the things that make mentalism interesting really do genuinely make it interesting. As long as you keep those words "magic" and "deception" on the list. but equally you can throw your hands up and say. that's what I say and what I put out there. that in a way was just to bring it back to that experience. and there were pages of people that are fans of the show going. That's what it came out of: A love of magic. you're going to stop questioning. And then the TV show. as opposed to what happens in the aftermath. because that's not possible." JAMY: I also think there's a difference between ambiguity in the moment of performance. getting the appreciation for that out there to my audience. that became a bit of a niche to explore. back to normal life and that's it. you're psychic. you're psychic. and that really stuck with me. great. And you're not really asking them to do that. and about challenging. that's stronger than if they pick one. and I've just spent a load of money on an expensive photo-reading course because I want to do that book test that you did. isn't that a great method. And it's about slowly. Which is different than the ambiguity of the traditional mentalist point of view that says they're supposed to walk away wondering if it's real forever. because that was then just focussing on the mentalism." DERREN: Yeah. I recently spent several days with Juan Tamariz." JAMY: And that's a more satisfying feeling than somebody who walks up and says. but when it's finished. That by it's nature was tricks. and he likes to talk about "killing" the spectator's mental "bull of logic" for the duration of a performance. but it's just trying to get that message right. he's only a showman? A trick isn't real?" That was really a very encouraging response of people who understood that it was about the showmanship and the performance. that knife edge.
I'm a huge Bach fan. Great scientists who understand mysteries. that's one view. DERREN: It's more informed. which is off the back of that information. it's average. are the people who really walk around in a permanent state of wonder. but you may not be providing it. And so equally.. You know. and when I listen to Bach.. It has no effect outside of what you communicate. you get it right. isn't it? And it again misses the point that it's all very well talking about it. which is a a poor surrogate for an emotion. you want to be useful. you're going to train your palate. a reduction of experiences and emotions. and I've written elsewhere that if you don't perform magic in a way that touches people then it's pointless saying that it touches people. And that it's not a pretension. and having more information. it is just a surrogate. It's an interesting point. JAMY: Right." or if you haven't fallen in love. I also think the word "wonder" is misused. a more intelligent. to me it's like a condensation. And I'd love to feel that it's challenging. but reduced and condensed to something that can then be unlocked. and it makes people question. I'm always wary about talking about magic in terms of it being primal or what have you. it elevates it. DERREN: Yes." has to do with not knowing and not understanding. I couldn't imagine anything greater than for it to be useful at some level. it's become common currency now. Yes. You're going to give it more information. It's like anything. which is as important as any childlike feeling of astonishment as well. Is an appreciation of a fine wine by someone who's trained their palate greater than someone else's appreciation of a bad wine they happen to like but they don't know anything about wine? I don't know. it's what drives great art. the idea of being informed more. DERREN: If you do it in a way that's just average. that extra understanding. ultimately you're educating the . then the end result is more profound. that that is something for them later that's useful to them. and that true wonder comes in knowing. but certainly a vision for it. you're right. DERREN: And if you get it right. so that the wonder that then can resonate from that. and I'm lucky if it ever happens. unquote. which is more informed. it think that the whole childlike thing is completely. "childlike sense of wonder. And there's nothing to unlock there. I think that real wonder is an adult experience. Well. and are constantly seeking solutions to mysteries. and train it so that they appreciate that what you then end up with is more resonant. As opposed to a Romantic piece. I don't know . or I think that one thing we both share is that it should be adult. here's a piece of music which sums it up. JAMY: Right. You're taking some responsibility. JAMY: Yeah. JAMY: ( Laughs ) Right. you're right. an adult emotion. I think it's more powerful. There's the adult intellectual conundrum. more informed. ( Laughter ) JAMY: Well. and misstated and misunderstood. JAMY: Exactly. Whereas something needs that little bit more work I think then potentially can yield far more results. I believe all art is an act of education. and maybe somewhere along the line shakes up a few comfortable presumptions about things. JAMY: And I think what you're saying is. It's a much easier experience. I think it's very convenient if it does that. that's true! And I also think that in its common use it seems to always be connected with not knowing. It's what drives great science. vastly overplayed. DERREN: Yes. DERREN: Yes. But I imagine that if you develop that sense of appreciation.you leave it clearly with them that magic and deception and cheating or whatever are on the list. it's like appreciating good wine or good music or good food. if you haven't spent "a night on a bare mountain. yeah. A quote. DERREN: Well. adult wonder. You may be providing irritation. And if you do it in a way that does take people back to something childlike.
DERREN: Yes.. potentially. Cut forward to you watching the tapes of the shows.audience. Well. if only in the sense of raising the demand of what it takes to appreciate what they're seeing. I think it's all about potential. DERREN: Absolutely. show don't tell. you know . JAMY: Sure. I'm really wary about ever stating those things. it's the old rule. because again. they simply don't exist if you're not doing it. JAMY: Marvelous. "This is real!" ( Laughter ) Everything you see is real! ( Laughter ) top of page home | welcome | learning | works | gallery | buy stuff .. and helping their ability to do so. DERREN: You say this now. This is great.
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