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Julius Kondratyev
Julius Kondratyev

The Secret of Pre-Show Work Revealed in Paul Brook's The Gift

Paul Brook's The Gift: A Review of the 14th Step to Mentalism

If you are a mentalist who wants to learn a powerful and versatile method that can create amazing effects with minimal props and preparation, you might want to check out Paul Brook's The Gift. This book is a comprehensive guide to pre-show work, a technique that allows you to obtain information from your spectators before the show and use it to create mind-blowing demonstrations of mind reading, prediction, influence and more.

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In this article, I will review The Gift by Paul Brook and give you an overview of what it is, who it is for, how it works, what effects it can produce and what are its pros and cons. I will also answer some frequently asked questions about the book and pre-show work in general.


What is The Gift?

The Gift is a book by Paul Brook that was published in 2007. It is subtitled "The 14th Step to Mentalism" as a homage to Corinda's classic 13 Steps to Mentalism, which is considered one of the most influential books on mentalism ever written. However, unlike Corinda's book, which covers a wide range of topics and methods, The Gift focuses on one specific technique: pre-show work.

Pre-show work is the art of obtaining information from your spectators before the show starts and using it during the show to create seemingly impossible effects. For example, you can ask a spectator to write down a word or a number on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope before the show. Then, during the show, you can reveal that word or number without ever touching or opening the envelope. Or you can ask a spectator to think of a name or a place before the show and then tell them what they are thinking of during the show.

Pre-show work can be done in various ways, such as using stooges, hidden cameras, microphones, impression devices, peek wallets, billet switches, cold reading, etc. However, The Gift teaches you a method that does not rely on any of these gimmicks or techniques. Instead, it uses a simple but ingenious psychological principle that allows you to obtain information from your spectators without them being aware of it.

Who is Paul Brook?

Paul Brook is a professional mentalist and author from the UK. He has been performing mentalism for over 20 years and has written several books and manuscripts on the subject. Some of his other works include The Brook Test, Good Vibrations, Nix 4, The Alchemical Tools, He Knows, Mind Reader and The Little Book of Big Ideas.

Paul Brook is also known for his innovative and creative approach to mentalism. He often combines psychological principles with storytelling, humor and drama to create engaging and memorable experiences for his audiences. He has performed for celebrities, corporations, festivals and theaters around the world.

The Method

The Psychology of Pre-Show Work

The method that Paul Brook teaches in The Gift is based on a psychological phenomenon called the Zeigarnik effect. This effect states that people tend to remember unfinished or interrupted tasks better than completed ones. For example, if you are reading a book and you stop at a cliffhanger, you are more likely to remember what happened in the book than if you finish it. Or if you are watching a movie and the power goes out, you are more likely to remember the plot than if you watch it till the end.

The reason for this effect is that unfinished or interrupted tasks create a tension or a curiosity in our minds that keeps them active and alert. On the other hand, completed tasks create a sense of closure or satisfaction that makes them fade away from our memory. This effect can be used to our advantage as mentalists by creating unfinished or interrupted tasks for our spectators before the show and then completing them during the show.

For example, suppose you want to reveal a word that a spectator has written down before the show. You can ask them to write down any word they want on a piece of paper and fold it up. Then, you can ask them to hold it in their hand and tell them that you will try to read their mind later. However, before you do that, you can interrupt them by saying something like "Wait, I need to check something" or "Hold on, I need to talk to someone" or "Sorry, I have to go for a minute". This will create an unfinished task in their mind that will make them remember the word better than if you had let them finish writing it down and putting it away.

Then, during the show, you can ask them to come on stage and hold the paper in their hand. You can then use any method you want to reveal the word, such as muscle reading, lip reading, fishing, etc. The spectator will be amazed that you knew their word and will not suspect any pre-show work because they will think that they wrote it down randomly and that you never saw it or touched it.

The Tools of Pre-Show Work

In order to perform pre-show work using the Zeigarnik effect, you need two things: a task and an interruption. The task is what you want your spectator to do before the show, such as writing down a word, drawing a picture, thinking of a name, etc. The interruption is what you use to stop them from completing the task or distract them from it, such as asking a question, making a comment, changing the topic, etc.

The task should be simple and easy to do, but not too obvious or suspicious. For example, if you ask your spectator to write down their mother's maiden name or their bank account number, they might get suspicious and refuse to do it. On the other hand, if you ask them to write down their favorite color or their zodiac sign, they might not remember it well because it is too common or trivial. A good task should be something that is personal and meaningful to them, but not too sensitive or private.

The interruption should be natural and casual, but not too abrupt or rude. For example, if you ask your spectator to write down a word and then suddenly walk away without saying anything, they might get offended or suspicious. On the other hand, if you ask them to write down a word and then engage them in a long conversation about something else, they might forget about the word or lose interest in it. A good interruption should be something that is relevant and interesting to them, but not too distracting or time-consuming.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Pre-Show Work

Pre-show work using the Zeigarnik effect has several advantages over other methods of pre-show work. Some of these advantages are:

  • It does not require any gimmicks or devices.

  • It does not require any stooges or accomplices.

  • It does not require any physical contact or manipulation.

  • It does not require any special skills or abilities.

  • It does not arouse any suspicion or resistance.

  • It works with any spectator and any situation.

  • It creates strong and memorable effects.

However, pre-show work using the Zeigarnik effect also has some disadvantages that need to be considered. Some of these disadvantages are:

  • It requires some planning and preparation.

  • It requires some time and opportunity.

  • It requires some confidence and rapport.

  • It requires some memory and recall.

It requires some flexibility 71b2f0854b


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