Be in no doubt, this is a strong effect. I care most about entertaining the public and not in impressing magicians. That said, when The Third Man debuted at the seventh meeting of the British Society of Mystery Entertainers in April 2010 it went down a storm with seasoned performers. That was, I must admit, gratifying.
Never before have I seen a professional mentalist reel away and shout “No!” on the final revelation of any trick. The public I performed for during that evening behaved in the same way. This is not an empty marketing claim – this effect can produce great reactions. And now you have the instructions.
I am interested in presenting mentalism using themes of espionage, criminal investigation and conspiracy theory. I have been fascinated with spies and magic for nearly 30 years and I hope that you’ll find the following effect worthwhile. I’ve included some theme variation suggestions for those who don’t want to copy the patter exactly.
In my opinion effective mentalism is entertaining. I hardly think that I’m in the minority with that view. But how do you transform a trick using slips of paper, envelopes and some minor deceit into an effect that will have groups of real people shouting with surprise, staring at each other bug-eyed and laughing with wonder?
My approach is to hint at a theme. I talk of “bad guys”, secret research and the use of human abilities that you would not usually associate with legitimate investigations. I don’t tell a full story outright but let the audience fill in the gaps. They don’t need to hear a tall tale or lecture from me.
The script included here, such as it is, is short. There’s plenty you could say when you perform The Third Man, but those will be your words and not mine. Take what I’ve provided here and use it as a frame from which to hang your own stories.
Mind you, when I perform this effect in noisy London pubs it’s hard to say very much at all that merrymakers will hear, let alone take in. The script on page 10 is an accurate copy of what I say in those situations. It is verbatim.
Use it or change it. Build it up into a stage piece or keep it simple. But do perform this effect. You’ll enjoy it almost as much as your audience.