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A Pionner and An INCREDIBLE Performer
Derren Brown - Live
Member Name: EdgySurveys
Derren Brown - Live
Date: 16/08/12, updated on 16/08/12 (18 review reads)
Advantages: A truly unique, engaging, lively, thrilling and witty performer. And a legendary mind of magic.
Disadvantages: None! Derren Brown is a genius.
== A Personal Intro ==
*Please feel free to skip this intro if you're not interested in my background that shapes the bulk of my opinion. My background is relevant, and it's brief, but I know you want to know how Derren is live, and you'll see the segment on that beneath this, thank you.*
I'll start off by saying that; my own personal history with magic goes back to about age 10/11 (I'm now 22). I was sat in the living room watching street magic on TV and thought to myself "I want to do that" (as I'm sure many kids/people may do whilst watching magic), so I then set about learning. First I would just record and watch close-up magic back repeatedly and work out sleights myself... then this evolved into a full blown obsession and passionate venture in to the art.
From about ages 11 to 16, I fully went at it (oi, mind out of gutter!) and learned everything I could possibly find about card and coin (and general close-up) magic, and the performance of it... I studied magician after magician, I studied the history, I was in love with the art.
Magic to me was always psychological, and elegant rather than 'mystifying' and 'big'. I actually dislike commercial magicians for the most part and the way TV magicians and the public tend to think of or see magic; it's quite cheesy. But that's not the magic I know of.
It looked all for sure that I was going to become a professional magician; in all humbleness, I got very good at it (card magic in particular) but then around... 17/18 just stopped practicing to the same obsessive standard I had (although, when you're truly passionately involved with something like that, it doesn't feel like practice, I enjoyed every minute of it) been and didn't ever (and still haven't) lose interest in it, but I just began walking down other roads and not focusing on it as much.
I also began to feel that a professional magician wasn't what I wanted to do with my life, despite being pretty certain I could go down that road and succeed (even to this day). I still love magic to this day and Derren is my absolute favourite all-time performer.
To anybody schooled in the history of or aware of truly special close-up legends will know what I mean. To anybody who isn't, but is interested; some names that may give you an idea are - Ed Marlo (a complete legend and perhaps the most well known, or certainly most referenced card magician within all of card magic), Jay Sankey (an all round entertaining and brilliant, well-rounded magician) and Brian Tudor (terrible performer but incredible technical artist).
The reason I wanted to write a little segment regarding my history with magic was to give my personal opinion of Derren's performance a little more weight - not because I think my opinion is so important, but just so that: to anybody who reads this, or thinks Derren is or could be overhyped, I just wanted to emphasize from the perspective of an experienced student of magic (and, believe me, I lived and breathed it, and have a lot of experience), Derren is IN-CRED-IBLE. This man deserves all the credit he gets as THE foremost performer of modern magic.
Derren also partially made me feel like "wow, what's the point now" haha, because... one of the hardest elements to magic is developing a performance style. You can practice technical aspects until you're blue in the face, and that's a whole world of its own, but if you don't develop a persona, it's all pretty useless unless you just want to be an exhibitionist of skill. You need to entertain...
And, given that I was so young when immersed in the art, I could never truly figure out how I wanted to present myself - but then when I saw Derren I thought "yes, okay... If I did it, I would want to do it like THAT, 100%". And I'm normally not happy with the idea of 'copying' somebody, I like to try and be original, but that just showed me how amazing Derren is. I almost felt like, well, if I feel that's the best way it can be done, and if I do it that way it's just a replica... why do it haha. That's the way I think, a little odd I know but kind of an extremist. But I may go back to it.
== Derren Live ==
Where to start!?
Okay so, as a performer, Derren Brown is sublime.
I don't use that word lightly, he's literally in the 'legendary' category and I guarantee you: he will go down in history with the historic men of magic and performance.
It's quite rare to see a performer of this calibre in this day and age, and no believe me, Chris Angel is not it! and neither is David Blaine (ew!). Derren is the kind of calibre of performer that I just haven't been aware of or known of this standard since the legendary days of development.
What Derren brings to magic which actually, I've never seen done in the way he does it or as good as he does it, is: an everyday style that feels completely natural (if you watch most magicians, it 'feels' like they're performing. There's an element of unnatural stiffness to the patter, something not quite true to life or entirely normal. It feels like a performance.) seamlessly blended with a plethora of wit, insight, genuine curiosity; dark and interesting undertones, a sense of the 'exhilarating' and entertaining and a modern, thoughtful perspective.
Most magicians, even great ones working today, even great magicians that I am a huge fan of - they're still basically 1.0 magicians in comparison to Derren's style of presentation. It still feels like 'okay, this is a magician talking to me, let me see what he tries to do now' where as with Derren, it's just like he's intelligently conversing with individuals and the magic is seamless; almost like he's not responsible for it, like it's happening as a result of something other than him and his input and control. This is the penultimate style of performing that any magician striving to be truly great at performing aspires to. The aim is for everything to feel so relaxed and comfortable, and for conversation to feel so unscripted, un-thought-out and flowing that the magic is a complete surprise.
When this style is achieved, you see what Derren produces. The reason Derren's material looks so insanely head-baffling sometimes, to the degree that people's only resort is to claim 'stooges' is because he has achieved this penultimate performance style.
This is why people are constantly questioning if it's real, because when you watch and listen to Derren, it feels like you're listening to a real man talking to you. Yes, there's a conscious performer there, and Derren fully infuses and adheres to this sense of 'theatre' and always lets you know that he's trying to do things and, plays so many mind games... but irrespective of his content, subject-matter or aims... it feels like a real interaction, and this is the key to why his misdirection and methodology is so well achieved to the point where the effect, looks like the effect. There's nothing to work out, your mind is just blown, and you feel completely entertained.
I say all of this as a magician, and this is the reason I gave my personal history as... when you've studied the art and 'get' how to structure or perform elements of magic, or just 'know' the inside so to speak; it can become harder for another magician to entertain or baffle you. Not that it's not possible, and I don't mean that quite how it sounds, as most good magicians LOVE the art (that's why they're good at it), that's why they got in to it, because they LOVE seeing it, and want to do it too.
But what I mean is, due to the fact you know the inner-working a lot... what becomes most important to you as a magician, becomes the performance. Where as with an audience... a performance is INADVERTENTLY most important, but in fact to most, what's most important is the effect / the trick, what they're seeing.
Audience members may be entertained by Derren's persona, but they've come to be baffled, they've come to see or experience something amazing, and try to figure it out, or simply enjoy the experience of not being able to figure it out. But if Derren wasn't such a good performer, general spectators wouldn't enjoy it as much as they do.
Derren has breathed a whole new life in to magic to the point where it can feel like you're watching a documentary or genuine psychological experience. What he's done with 'psychological magic' is simply astounding, he's taken it to levels not seen before and with a realism never imagined.
Remember when you used to think of magicians? you'd think 'top hat / corny' right? Derren has dismantled that feeling, which was an historically cheap and tacky thing to shake off, but through his sheer excellence in style and elegance, and intelligence, he's made it something so much better.
He makes it feel almost 'clinical' at times, and yet never losing the spark of a magic performance, never losing that 'life' and thrill and concept of entertainment, he's struk the perfect balance.
I know I've rambled a lot and I better stop myself now as, I know this is more of a general appraising of Derren; I have seen him live and the show I saw live was 'Mind Reader'...
I will bring this to a closing now or I will literally go on forever! but I will just say - to anybody considering if Derren's show will be a good night out, TRUST ME: it will be unforgettable. If you think Derren's TV programs are engrossing, wait till you see him live.
What I've failed to mention as much here is his humour. Beyond being amazed and engrossed, and beyond having all your thought provoked; you will be chuckling all the way through. Derren is a genuinely witty writer and performer - his comic timing is on par with decent comedians and some of his wit is hilarious. Most magicians fail to develop or just, aren't, usually, genuinely funny. They're usually 'jokey funny' in a kind of childish or flat way, but Derren is 'adult funny'. You will be baffled, amused, entertained and you will have a superb night out.
Derren Brown is a genius (I'm not somebody who overuses that word like many) and the amount he's achieved in such a short space of time, and the way he's transformed magic and the perception of it; and the heights and depths he's taken it too... I'm in awe. A true pioneer. See him now!
Thanks so much for reading, I know it was long!
Summary: See him live, any chance you get. You will not regret it.