The Problems With Billets and Q&A
By Marc Paul - Saturday, April 30, 2022
Bob Cassidy said ‘billets are the cornerstone of mentalism’.
Yes they are, absolutely without a doubt.
With just some folded slips of paper, a few pencils and some fairly simple skills you can create almost EVERY mentalism effect there is.
Billets are the ultimate pack small play big prop. So why do so few mentalist focus on billet work?
Firstly there seems to be a false belief that asking a spectator to write something down totally blows the effect of mind-reading. The argument goes that if we could really read minds why would the audience have to write those thoughts down?
Well, whatever process I have to go through as a mind reader is completely justified, because I am the mind reader, the expert in what I’m demonstrating. I dictate the conditions under which I conduct that demonstration. It’s easy to justify writing something down. Here’s an example;
“...you have hundreds of thoughts going through your mind at anytime, writing just one of them down will isolate it and make it stand out from the rest. The physical act of writing will automatically make your mind focus on it. There’s also a second reason...you can’t change your mind! We have written proof of what you are thinking”.
The second reason some performer shy away from billet work, is simply lack of skill! Billet work is sleight of hand that must be mastered and executed flawlessly. Most of mentalism is based on very simple, undemanding methods.
In fact the latest electronic gizmos enable you to read minds at the push of a button. Why spend the time working on a billet switch? Because those gizmos will fail you at sometime or get lost with the rest of your luggage. Because as performers we should NOT overly rely on special gimmicks. Because learning these techniques is actually not that difficult and once learned will open up a whole world of effects. Once you have mastered billet work then you become an initiate, a master of knowledge.
For a few hours of investment in practice of the methods I will teach in my Masterclass: Live you will be paid back with years of rewarding fulfilling performances where YOU and your skill are the method NOT an app on your phone!
I LOVE Q&A! You need to learn it...right now. There is no other mentalism routine that has anywhere near the impact of Q&A.
But there is a problem, we have dozens and dozens of routines and methods to perform this classic effect AND we have loads of literature about how to answer the questions, BUT what we don’t have is a structure.
Almost every routine I’ve ever read or seen follows the format of pick up a question slip, answer the question, pick up another slip answer the question, pick up another slip, answer the question... you see where this is going!
The classic routines even say something along the lines of continue in this way until you have answered between 15 and 20 and then stop. They all totally miss out the most important factor...structure.
This routine, more than any other, needs a pre-determined framework in which there is drama, escalation and a definite climax. Also that framework must support and streamline the large amount of procedure that has to be gone through. It must also help to make that procedure incidental and unimportant.
I’ve given a lot of thought to these challenges and created a structure with my own Q&A that achieves the maximum amount of reveals, between 12 and 15 all in the space of about 15 minutes and that includes all of the procedure. It has a dramatic arc and a definitely solid climax. I’ll teach you my solutions and much more in my Vanishing Inc. Masterclass: Live.
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