Russell Howard, Bill Bailey, Marcus Brigstocke, Simon Pegg… the list of major-league comics with ties to Bristol is a long and illustrious one. And it's just about to get longer, we'd wager, with the addition of the name Chris Cox.Raised in Backwell just outside town, Cox is a magician and comedian who uses a mix of quick wit, magic, psychology, body language and, well, lying to make you think he knows what you're thinking. In fact he is (as his stage sub-moniker "The Mind Reader Who Can't Read Minds" indicates) not a true mind-reader – but he's terrifically talented and very funny to boot, as a 2011 Top Comedy award from our colleagues at venue.co.uk bears witness. He's also got a growing army of celeb fans including Jonathan Ross and Ricky Gervais.In his new show, Fatal Distraction, Cox re-evaluates love and rejection. "On the surface, Fatal Distraction is a mind-reading and magic show, but in reality it's so much more than that," Cox tells us. "It's actually a piece of proper theatre, with highs and lows, jokes and emotions all wrapped together with tricks that have never before been seen by the world."You can expect some audience interaction (don't worry, there's nothing to fear), and you will also be able to control what you see me do by thoughts alone. You can also expect to laugh and to be amazed – but most importantly you can expect a very entertaining time."
The Monkees' ‘I’m a Believer’ is blaring out over the loudspeakers, there’s a big board on stage that says I HEART COX, and a bookcase full of random knick-knacks: Starbucks mugs (are they sponsoring him?), cuddly toys, books, a plant. Chris Cox bounces onto the stage and launches at breakneck speed into the shaggy dog story that loosely frames this show: he was in an art gallery and he met a beautiful girl who mysteriously disappeared and then later came round to dinner…And while you’re being lulled by the story and deceived into thinking he’s some kind of geek who looks about twelve, he’s busy scanning the audience for his first victims of the night, who hilariously and coincidentally include one of his ex-teachers and an off-duty magician: you couldn’t make it up. Not wanting to give the details of his act away too much, there follow a series of mind-bending routines involving his apparent ability to reproduce pictures he can’t see being drawn, to know the contents of sealed envelopes, and to be able to tell you exactly what’s on any page of a random publication.The clue is in the title – whilst distracting you with his nerdiness, Cox slips on the invisibility cloak that he nicked off Harry Potter (for they surely studied together at Hogwarts) and does sneaky stuff that you are too unwitting or unwilling to see. Logically he must have a Little Helper on the Other Side, although it’s impossible to perceive any such goings-on with the naked eye. Cox is so charming and disarming that in no time your disbelief is suspended and you are gasping in wonder at the deftness and elegance of his routines. Before you know it, you too will be wearing an I HEART COX badge… but how did it get on your lapel?This lad has masses of drive and old fashioned limpid-eyed boy-next-door charm, he is totally focused on what he’s doing and he’s obviously going to go far. In fact, to quote my daughter who was at the same secondary school as him, way back in Year 9: ‘Muuum, there ’s a boy in my year called Chris Cox and he’s going to take over the world.’ (Rina Vergano)
An absolutely astonishing talent.THE pages of The Post may not have featured so prominently on stage in a show in Bristol since Ricky Gervais read out a bad review at the Colston Hall, critiquing my colleague Steve Harnell's words line by line.Going line by line through The Post is also something that Chris Cox must have done sometime on Monday, then distributed pages of the newspaper among his audience at the Tobacco Factory Theatre that night, asking them to name a page and then saying which stories were on that page, even going as far to recall a particular crossword clue.Born in Bristol and living in the city until he finished university, Cox's shows have previously been described by Gervais himself as "brilliant, he'll blow your mind".It was not just a copy of this very newspaper you are holding in your hands right now (the trick wouldn't work so well on a computer screen), but also the pages from an old Edinburgh Festival programme that he once again had completely memorised, correctly being able to name one of the 2,000 or so shows from the page number given to him, and if that wasn't enough also saying both the venue and start time.The astonishing thing about this astonishing show was that astonishingly this was not even its most astonishing element, but unfortunately it will ruin the astonishment of future audiences if I reveal any more of the secrets of Cox.Currently in development for his own television series in Los Angeles, this was the first homecoming appearance for his current show, which he has taken around the world. It is called Fatal Distraction for good reason, but thankfully there were no mysterious deaths reported in Southville on Monday night.Cox calls himself "the mind reader who can't read minds", although this is doing somewhat of a disservice to a young man still in his early 20s who has become an Edinburgh regular and wowed global audiences.Combining chit chat, magic, psychology, body language, influencing and lying, this was an absolutely astonishing show from a young man with a very bright future.Derren Brown better watch his back. Chris Cox should soon be filling many column inches of newspapers up and down the land, probably memorising every word.
In Bristol, you can’t throw a small ferret dressed in a woolly jumper the kind that James from The Great British Bake-Off would wear without it landing in the lap of a former teacher sitting in the third row. Not in the Tobacco Factory Theatre at least, especially not on a rainy Monday evening in September.Born in Bristol and living in the city until he finished university, Cox (right) calls himself “the mind reader who can’t read minds”, but this is doing a huge disservice to a young man still in his early 20s who has become an Edinburgh Festival regular and wowed global audiences.It’s a shame that last night was his only show in Bristol, because it was absolutely superb, in the vein of Derren Brown combining magic, psychology, body language, influencing and downright lying.It also involved the best feats of memory I have ever seen.Cox memorised both yesterday’s Post (“Who stole the Evening?” he asked incredulously) and an Edinburgh programme from several years ago, being able to name crossword clues from the newspaper and read out Richard Branson’s credit card number from an advert when told the page an audience member was holding.This was an astonishing show, with its very nature meaning that much of its content cannot be revealed. On this form, however, the manic and freakishly talented Cox will not be throwing ferrets into former teachers’ laps for much longer. At least not on a rainy Monday in September.