Saturday, January 30, 2010

Project 365 (30/365): Bank Night

.:30/365: Bank Night:.

So this is how we’re gonna rob the bank...

The Bank Night routine is one of the nicest ways to open a show, and establishes rapport with your audience as a mentalist from the get-go.

Imagine the mechanics: you have five or more envelopes. One of them contains a thousand-peso bill. The others, not so much. You give a few members of the audience the chance to pick any of the envelopes, and after everything’s said and done, they all end up with the not-so-great envelopes, and they leave you with the envelope containing a lot of money. You get your applause. You have just proven your abilities as a psychological manipulator.

It’s a very simple script, but one that’s both engaging and upbeat at the same time. You get the crowd excited with what you are about to do, and as if that’s not enough, you even tell them the serial number of the bill from memory, just to further prove your abilities as a mentalist.

Richard Osterlind is very well-known for this routine, and it’s one of his favourite show openers, with good reason. As a mentalist, you need to show to your audience that you can excite them, and it’s not going to be just a boring showcase of “I can read your mind, now watch.” You want to engage them in your performance, you want them to feel invested in it. This is why I’m especially fond of this routine, as it really establishes some rapport with your audience right from the start. It also helps the performer ease the butterflies from his stomach before going onstage because he has to commit the serial number of the bill to memory.

It packs small, what with you only using a few pay envelopes, but it plays big, because you can engage a lot of audience members at the same time. It’s a really good way to start off the night, and I highly recommend this routine for any mentalist who still hasn’t found a perfect opener for their show.

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