Dominion Post NZ – Fatal Distraction Review

From the moment I stepped into the venue and was handed a pen I knew this show was going to be full of audience participation. This was not traditional comedy where the comedian stands on stage with just a mic for company: This was a set, with props.

Chris Cox is the mind reader who can’t read minds. However, he does a good job of making me believe he can do just that. The lanky Brit bounces on stage, charms the crowd with his self-deprecating humour and soon you’re swept along on a baffling, but thoroughly enjoyable hour of entertainment.

He’s honest that he can’t actually read minds and uses techniques such as reading body language, word association, and you know those props on stage aren’t random, but his abilities are still, well, mind blowing.

The thread that runs through the show looks at the question, “What if?” giving it a structure with an unexpected poignancy.

There is comedy but the most interesting part is the audience participation – for the more timid out there he doesn’t humiliate – and how he manages to get people to scratch their heads and say out loud “What the…?”

Such as how did he know that man’s phone number? And how did he know this woman wanted him to break-dance? Be prepared to throw your thoughts at Cox and see what comes back.

If you’re looking to sit back and let some good old-fashioned comedy wash over you this probably isn’t the show for you. However, if you want to experience something extraordinarily unique, go see Cox.

Just be prepared to leave with one question echoing round your mind – how did he do that?

Groove Guide NZ – Fatal Distraction Review

Halfway through Chris Cox’s show, you start to wonder when his luck will run out and he’ll start making wildly wrong attempts at mind reading. He’s done a pretty good job up to this point of somehow working out what people are thinking, and then sharing their thoughts with the rest of us. He does claim to be a mind reader who can’t read minds, after all.

Fatal Distraction is an apt name for his show; his routine is less about the magic of mind reading, and more about the techniques used to distract people into showing him what he needs to know. He’s pretty upfront about it too; reminding us several times that he can’t actually read minds. Only, after the umpteenth WTF moment, you begin to wonder whether he actually, somehow, does possess some kind of telepathic power.

The bulk of the show is made up of those moments, all tied together in a sort of love story. You can spend hours trying to work out how he manages to do what he does, to no avail. There are subtle suggestions from him in his patter about how he does it, but mostly the tricks defy explanation.

There’s also plenty of audience participation, but it’s all pretty safe and over quickly with no lasting damage to anyone, and he manages it in a way that makes you forget those fears of being picked on by the comedian. Towards the end of the show people were readily volunteering to help and everyone seemed to feel part of the show, rather than the butt of the joke.

It is mind-blowing, it is amazing, and it’s an entertaining way to spend an hour.

How We Met: Chris Cox & Tim Minchin – The Independent

Chris Cox & Tim Minchin

Chris Cox, 28

A self-proclaimed mind-reader who can’t read minds, Cox has been critically acclaimed for his live shows, which combine magic and comedy in equal measure. He lives in London

My big loves in life are comedy and musicals, and seeing Tim’s first show during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2005, with that white piano on stage, ticked every box. I wanted to see everything he did.

From the beginning, his comedy felt like a magic trick. We even talk about how he constructs his songs like tricks; he saves bits to reveal later and just when you think you know what’s coming, you get something different. I remember meeting Tim for a coffee during the Ealing Comedy Festival a few years ago. He was preparing for a gig and he played me his song “Prejudice” for the first time, and when that punch-line hit [the song revels in the lines, “A couple of Gs, an R and an E, an I and an N/ Just six little letters all jumbled together have caused damage that we may never mend” before Minchin reveals that he is singing about people with ginger hair], I spat out my drink all over the table. It was exactly the reaction I look to get with my tricks, and after hearing that song I went home and rewrote my latest trick, to give it that effect. I get frustrated by how good he is, but it inspires me to do better.

When he got the gig writing [the stage show] Matilda, we started going to see other shows together, and after each we would talk new ideas. We went to see [the musical] Billy Elliot together and at the interval we went for a drink at the bar when a guy came up and asked, “Do you know the score?” We both replied, in unison, “We’re pretty sure it’s Elton John’s” and he went, “No, no, the football score!” Turns out it was the Champions’ League Final that night and neither of us had any idea. I said to Tim, “OK, so in case anyone else asks, we watched the football together last night – we didn’t see Billy Elliot.”

We’re very different as people, though: he wears way more make-up, doesn’t wear shoes on stage. And he’s much more of a perfectionist. We were in Vegas recently, where he was going to a comedy festival. I sat in on his soundcheck, as we were going to do lunch after, and it took him three hours – it was ridiculous.

Tim Minchin 36

After winning the Best Newcomer Perrier Award at his Edinburgh Fringe debut in 2005, the Australian comedian, musician, writer and actor gained a huge following with his blend of musical cabaret and most recently his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’ as a musical. He lives in London

I can’t put my finger on exactly how we met, as it was during Edinburgh several years ago – and like many moments there, it was one of the forgotten ones. But with Chris, once he decides he wants to be your friend, there’s no going back.

He’s a diplomatic genius; he seems to know everyone. I realised what a genius of social lubrication he is when we met up again in New York in 2007, where I was doing a series of gigs. He was friends with a load of models over there and before he returned to the UK he introduced them all to me. After each of my shows I’d have dinner with these tall, beautiful women, feeling like a rock star yet also knowing the only reason I knew them was this boy-magician who looked like a 12-year-old.

I constantly describe my comedy, rather pretentiously, as being like a magic trick; there’s a long build-up towards the final reveal. So I love all his magic stuff – my heart soars when I watch his close-up work because I can’t figure it out, though I would never ask him how he’d do it.

There aren’t many David Copperfields around now, so live magic is mostly dismantled with comedy, which Chris is very good at. His magic connects us on a fundamental level, too. All performers understand how human psychology is vulnerable and unreliable. To be a magician you have to understand how easy people are to fool, so you can hardly be a magician these days without being an atheist, and as a matter of course we’ve both become critics of religion.

What’s interesting about Chris, particularly as a straight man, is his love of musical theatre. I was in discussions about Matilda when he approached me about it; he seemed to know about it already, possibly through his telepathic abilities. He said, “I’m really good at getting free tickets, fancy going to see some other musicals?” So we went on a series of man-dates, and we’d analyse how other shows worked. After we’d seen, say, Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, I’d feel overwhelmed by the task of writing a musical, but Chris was incredibly knowledgeable. And showing him my material, and getting his positive feedback, gave me a lot of confidence.

Tim Minchin is performing at festivals across the UK this summer; for details, see Chris Cox will be performing his show Fatal Distraction at the Udderbelly Festival, London SE1, on 29 May and 19 June

Learn Chris’ Secrets

If you want a private one off performance from Chris and the chance to learn some of his secrets then you want to get bidding on the fantastic Air New Zealand charity auction for the wonderful charity Phab. You can find out more about it and bid on this one off exclusive opportunity over on ebay.

Keeping Up With The Grid NZ – Fatal Distraction Review

The Q Theatre’s Rangatira stage looked filled with copious amounts of props while, through the load speakers, the voice of Chris Cox gave us our first instructions of the evening.

As I sat front row with my boyfriend I waited for others to join us but it seemed everyone felt safer one row back!

Turns out at Fatal Distraction it doesn’t really matter where you sit at this interactive show.

Chris burst on stage with enormous energy and announces that he is a mind reader who can’t read minds. This should be interesting!

His pace is fast and he moves around the stage in a manic gazelle like fashion hopping from spot to spot. It’s all very distracting in a charming way, but I guess that’s the point.

The hour show features lots of twists and turns through the narrative of a love story. Some mind trickery is revealed early on while others are left long enough for you to forget all about them until the end of the show.

Chris interacts effortlessly with his crowd and makes everyone feel at ease as he works around the audience and welcomes some lucky folk on to his stage.

This is a variety performance with one liners, visual jokes, audience participation and good old fashion magic and mentalism!

Chris is a truly talented individual who even informs us at the start of his show that his witty chit chat, magic, psychology, body language, influencing, devilish good looks… and lying will make us think he knows what we’re thinking. Even though he doesn’t, or does he? See I am confused again!

I did get my chance to be in the show and earn my self my very own Mind Reader badge as did TV3’s David Farrier, so you really never know who will end up part of this sorcery.

After the show I went to the ladies and overheard a conversation between two women who were just desperately trying to work out how he had done it.

That’s the gift of Chris Cox’s Fatal Distraction, it keeps you guessing long after it’s finished and may just make you believe in magic!