It's Your Choice - Paul Brook
The last month of 2021! Can you believe it? This year has flown by for me, and I imagine it has for many now that things are slowly opening back up and some semblance of life as we knew it is beginning to return.
Let's jump right into the review. This is a soon to be released hardback book from Paul Brook. The book is over 260 pages all on one single method.
Here’s how Paul describes the trick:
“Four cards (containing any information) are shown to the participant, and she freely takes any one of the four cards. Instantly, the performer can demonstrate, without any doubt, that he knew she would choose that card. This proof is in the hands of the participant on the reverse of the card that has been selected. Not only that, but the performer can then fully explain how the participant has been influenced in precise detail, and this can be physically proven!”
Paul has obsessed over this one routine since he first saw it in 2004. The routine began its life as a nice, simple, quick routine demonstrating a performer’s ability to predict one of four letters chosen by a spectator. Over the years Paul has tweaked the handling slightly to make it that much better, but more importantly, he has created 25 different presentations for the trick. This is a book detailing each one of those presentations. The book even ends with a full workshop on how to create your own presentations to go with this incredibly versatile method.
If you’re looking for the next cutting edge method in mentalism, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for something to fool your magic buddies, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a strong, easy effect that will amaze and amuse a lay audience and give you hundreds if not thousands of routining possibilities, then this is just what you need.
The versatility of this method allows you to make the routine fit any theme or subject that you want. And the best part is, no matter how you change the routine, the method is always the same meaning you can focus entirely on the presentation.
The book opens with an explanation of the mechanics which you will use for every subsequent routine in the book. It is explained in full, and it includes clear drawings to illustrate the process from beginning to end. Reading this section once or twice with some business cards in hand is all you will need to get the method down. It’s so easy, even a beginner will have it down in minutes. Paul then has a chapter explaining his subtleties and what they bring to the table over the original handling. Then we get into the fun stuff: the presentations. Each presentation includes an illustration of the necessary cards for that version—most of them are meant to be hand drawn. Almost every presentation also includes Hidden Persuaders which cleverly convince the spectator they were subconsciously influenced to make the choice they did.
Let's break it down and discuss each routine to give you an idea of the type of presentations included.
1. The opening presentation involves a spectator pretending to be a boss of a big company who hires a new employee. As it turns out, the boss was subconsciously influenced to make the right decision. This is a very fun routine with ample opportunity to have fun with your spectators. It is a great example of how this simple method can be turned into an entertaining routine which is much bigger than the simple method.
2. Using tarot cards, the spectator must find their fate in the cards.
3. Which gym rats love the gym and which ones are faking it?
4. A live demonstration of a shipping crate auction (as seen on TV) is played. The spectator acts as the contestant. There is a lot of room for comedy here, and the spectator has a clear reason they made their choice whether they realize it or not.
5. Four old photographs of women are used. Can the spectator find the victim amongst the murderers?
6. Can handwriting tell us who is stressed and who is calm? What starts as a demonstration of a previous study, but come to find out, the participant is the one in the study which is entirely different than they expected! I like the twist in this one.
7. You introduce the spectator to four women from a dating app. Can they spot the stalker?
8. A real life game of “Shark Tank” is played with the spectator choosing where to invest their money. Did they invest in the right product? This is another of my favorites. If the spectators have seen the television show “Shark Tank” then they will be thoroughly entertained as they take on the persona of one of the sharks.
9. Can the spectator guess the sex of a baby just by touching a picture of a soon-to-be-mother?
10. Can the spectator spot the winning lotto numbers?
11. Can the spectator pick the good car out of the faulty ones?
12. Can the spectator spot the catfisher in a group? This has a fun premise about the performer being a catfish instead of the actual performer. It opens up some playful banter.
13. Can the spectator find the email subject that contains a virus?
14. The “antique roadshow” is played in real life.
15. Can the spectator spot the faulty item that has been permanently recalled?
16. Can the spectator find the naughty kid amongst the nice?
The next presentations are only included in the first run of 200 books. This is considered the Limited Edition. The following presentations are meant for specific venues. The first three presentations are for the trade show market, and while the tricks are good, the real value is in the information you are able to provide to your client. They are all designed to allow you to bring people into the booth to speak with a salesman. If anyone is working the trade show market or wants to, I truly believe you can benefit from one or two of these presentations.
17. The spectator chooses which freebie to take away from the trade show stand.
18. The performer knows exactly why someone stopped at their booth and is able to prove it. This allows you to gain valuable information for your client which can help them spend their money more wisely. Which client at a trade show WOULDN’T want this information? It makes you a valuable asset for the company.
19. The performer knows which product is best to meet the needs of the potential customer and can prove it. This allows you to connect potential customers directly to the appropriate salesman as a hot lead. Again, this makes you a value asset to the company. Much more valuable than just an entertainer stopping people.
The next three presentations are designed for the wedding market. All of these presentations are perfect icebreakers and really get the guests talking to one another.
20. The guests at a wedding engage in a debate about who will give the best speech at the wedding. The performer proves he knew exactly who they would choose. This is such a great way to get the guests having fun and interacting at a wedding. It starts them off with a point of contact to get the conversation rolling.
21. The guests at a wedding engage in a debate about who will have surprising dance skills. They guess correctly. Again, this offers a brilliant chance for the guests to open up and have fun discussing who will be a good dancer and who won’t. It’s great and so fun.
22. Which family member will be most drunk at the wedding? The guests debate and guess correctly. While I would never use this presentation, there’s a secret here that is guaranteed to be a hit.
The next three presentations are designed for the corporate market—specially in a cocktail party situation.
23. The performer starts a light hearted rumor about who will be promoted in the company. This is quite a way to get a conversation going “water cooler” style.
24. The performer informs the company members of a rebranding campaign. The new slogans options are introduced. All are hilariously bad, yet the company is in full agreement with the boss on which one is best. This is my favorite of the bunch for corporate work. It has intrinsic humor built within, and it gives the spectators an opportunity to have a good laugh as they all feel “in” on the joke.
25. Who is the one person in the group of four that will have their job reviewed? They all guess correctly. It’s a fun lighthearted teasing that is typical of a company party. It will take careful watch as a performer to ensure it doesn’t turn to bullying, but the group will love dictating who will be the one to go.
The book ends with a full workshop on how to come up with your own presentations for the trick step by step.
Overall, this project is a great demonstration of how a simple trick can be dressed up in a multitude of ways all with very little effort. The presentations you have laid out before you here are complete routines with a full script and lots of entertainment value. If you like the sound of the brief snippets above, you will like the full routine significantly more. But even if you don’t think any of the 25 presentations will fit you, you will be able to easily construct a routine of your own using the simple process outlined in the book. As I said at the beginning, don’t buy this just to see what the amazing method is or you will be disappointed. Instead, buy it to see how much can be squeezed out of a simple method, and you will be impressed and inspired.