Metro: Interview

Another young joker in the pack is Chris Cox, Radio 1’s resident magician owes more to Derren Brown than Blaine and has taken his mind magic to new levels.

“I use psychology, NLP, prediction and performance. I call it contemporary mind-reading but to keep it fresh, I incorporate a mixture of comic techniques and multimedia resources.” Also 22, he’s been a regular fixture on Radio 1’s Colin & Edith show and makes his Edinburgh Fringe debut this summer.

“I’m a quirky, slightly awkward, geeky guy who takes the piss out of what ‘magicians’ are meant to be. You’ll laugh your head off while still being blown away,” he explains of his growing appeal.

“I tend to look to popular culture, movies, songs, theatre and TV to give me inspiration rather than any magic book, I don’t want to recycle old ideas.” Whatever tricks are up Chris Cox’s sleeve next, one thing’s for sure: you won’t find him depressed in a box for 44 days

Venue: Chris Cox – West Country Mentalist

Ex-Bristol University student Chris Cox makes a living out of not reading people’s minds. Hailed as a ‘contemporary, multimedia, mindreading magician’, he still claims that he can’t actually do the mind-reading bit. No, says Chris, a self-styled ‘mentalist’: it’s all a big act, a mix of applied psychology, magic, misdirection and showmanship. He’ll be performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but you can see him first next Sunday, at a one-off warm-up gig in his home town of Backwell.

Both Bristol Uni alumni, both mind magicians… are you sick of people calling you the next Derren Brown?
I knew you were going to start with that question.

You are resident magician on R1’s Chris Moyles Show. What does that entail?
It’s like being a magic bitch! I basically provide entertainment to anyone who’s bored. It also means I get to do cool things like try out new stuff and bits of mind reading on star guests that come in, you know, people like … David Hasselhoff.

Oho! What was he like then?
A legend. The conservation ran as follows:
Me – “Urr, hi David, it’s very nice to meet you.”
Him – “Hi, I’m David Hasselhoff, you can call me The Hoff.”
So I did.

You describe yourself as a ‘mentalist’. Can you explain further?
A mentalist is the traditional magical term for a mind reader. It comes from the world mentalism, which is the traditional magical way of reading minds, and is not to be confused with the Alan Partridge “No way, you big spastic, you’re a mentalist” quote. It’s tough to describe myself; I often say a contemporary multimedia mind reader, but it ain’t too easy on the tongue, so sometimes mentalist will suffice.

What’s the UK magicians’ scene like?
There are so many magic geeks about these days, who instantly criticise any magician other than themselves, and who spend hours working things out in front of the mirror at home, but never actually entertain or work with an audience. I see myself as an entertainer who happens to do magic, not a magic geek who spends his whole time online in magic forums and never performing. That said, I do spend a load of time online – but not on magic forums….

What’s your best trick, then?
One of my favourites has me on a TV screen. A punter selects a celebrity, then finds themselves getting engrossed in talking to me on the TV. Then I tell them what celeb they’ve picked. It’s all about influencing the spectator to select the right celebrity through what I say and how I say it… it’s like pushing them down an alleyway and kicking them in the mind-bollocks. I also used to do a Russian roulette thing using knives, bare feet and stamping… but
it scared me too much, and was too… Derreny, so I stopped doing it. So,

I’ve got to ask. Can you really read minds?
No, sadly not… hence the show’s name, ‘He Can’t Read Minds?’, although the question mark causes all sorts of doubts. Most mind reading is about making the audience think they have a free choice, but actually influencing that free choice so that it matches up to a prediction that I make. The language that I use is very important. It deceives an audience and makes them suggestible. The power of words is amazing: for example, if you were to scream as loud as you can in a library, people would look at you oddly. Do it on an aeroplane, and people will join in. What you say, how you say it, and where you say it can cause all sorts of different outcomes.

And is there anything in mind reading, or is it just a load of mumbo-jumbo spouted by charlatans?
Personally, I think the latter. It’s all bollocks. I know that I could do exactly what any psychic could do, without using any psychic powers. When you see me, you’ll laugh, you’ll be amazed, I’ll tell you what you’ve drawn without seeing it, and the whole audience will blow me away by creating a hugely memorable ending. Psychotic, perhaps. Psychic? Hell, no.

Bristol Evening Post: Success Is On The Cards For Illusionist Chris

A Young illusionist will be showing off his talents in Bristol next month in preparation for his show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Former Bristol student Chris Cox will be playing nine dates at the festival in August.

But first he will be giving a preview of his innovative multi- media show in his hometown of Backwell.

In the act, which he has called You Can’t Read Minds?, Chris performs alongside a 2D version of himself on television.

He said he is looking forward to the Fringe festival but is pleased to be able to practise in Bristol beforehand.

He said: “The Fringe festival is such a big thing to be involved in. It’s really exciting and quite scary actually.

“I have been going to the festival myself for the past six years to watch stand-up comedy and have always wanted to perform.

“Hopefully it will lead to more shows.

“Ideally, I’d love to one day take my show on tour.”

The 22-year-old is following in the footsteps of another former Bristol student – psychological illusionist Derren Brown. But he says he is keen to put his own stamp on the show.

He said: “My shows used to be quite similar to Derren Brown’s, but now there is a much more comedic side to my mind reading.

“I decided to introduce a ‘Little Chris’ into the show – a 2D, pre-recorded version of me on a TV screen.

“He interacts with the audience and predicts what they will say, but it is all pre-recorded so I couldn’t have known what the audience member would say.

“That means I have to influence them using suggestion and mind control.”

Like Derren Brown, Chris combines confidence and intuition to subtly guide human behaviour. He describes his craft as a mixture of applied psychology, magic, misdirection and showmanship.

He said: “The unique blend of magic and psychology gives the impression of mind-reading.”

Chris began performing at age six, after receiving a Paul Daniels magic set as a gift.

He has been featured on television shows such as The Big Breakfast, Live and Kicking, The Real Holiday Show, Jack Dee’s Happy Hour and The Biz, and also appeared in a series of adverts for Comic Relief.

Chris now lives in London but comes back to Bristol to visit his mum, who lives in Portishead, and to work at the BBC, in Whiteladies Road.