Killer Magic’s Chris Cox & Ben Hart – Magic Shop Interview

Chris, you have had a very busy career, TV and radio performances, theatre performances. You’ve even had five UK tours. What’s your favorite platform for performing? Do you feel at home mostly on stage or in close-up environment and why?

Chris Cox – I don’t perform close-up, I never have done, nor do I do table hopping. I’ve been offered the chance to do it a few times, and I’ve always said no. I just do stage or cabaret. Basically, if people are sat quietly facing the front, watching me, I’m happy. It’s just always been the medium I’ve loved. Ever since I was young, theatre was all what I wanted to do. The reason I took my first mind reading show to the Edinburgh Festival, is because I wanted to go perform, and I was getting quite good at the mind reading stuff. So yeah, I’m genuinely– out of everything, I’m at my most comfortable, and feel on top of my game, when I’m on the stage. It suits me. It’s what I like doing. I’ve got real respect for the guys who go up and do close-up and table hopping, because I couldn’t do it, and it feels like hell on earth to me.  I’m happy to do something in a theatre of 3,000 people. That doesn’t  bother me in the slightest.  Normally, because it just have ten people in it. I’ve massively overbooked a venue.

Being mind readers, do you indeed sit in silence, having conversations with each other on the set of Killer Magic?

Chris Cox – We stay in silence, just having no conversations to each other, and looking at Twitter on our phones. We never really talked about mind reading really, because I’m the mind reader of the show, and Dee Christopher doesn’t really do his mind reading. He does more the dark, Gothia side of magic. There’s not been any crossover there really, and I think we’ve got hugely different styles and probably very different points of view on where, how we want that form of magic to come across. I think Dee probably wants stuff to feel real to his audience, and maybe a little scary, where my whole thing is, from the get-go, I say I’m a mind reader, who can’t read minds. I can’t actually do any of this stuff. So that’s where I come from. It’s all about entertainment for me. I don’t care whether people think I’m doing it for real or not, as long as they’re enjoying it. Sometimes putting in a nice bit of process will help them to enjoy it more, and sometimes I’ll just do it and hopefully shock, amuse, amaze.  Shock, as in people go, “Huh, didn’t expect that,” rather than sort of scary, geek, magic style shock.  Again, geek magic as in. “Oh, someone’s eating a razor blade,” rather than, “Oh, look at his big glasses.”

Do you find that comedy mixes well with mind reading, and what advice would you give people who are wishing to add an element of comedy to their performances?

Chris Cox – I wouldn’t say comedy mixes well with mind reading.  I wouldn’t say comedy mixes well with anything, unless you’re naturally quite funny, and comedy’s a thing you’re good at and you like doing.  It’s all down to personal preference.  So for me, I think I’m a fairly funny person, and stuff that I like the most is funny things. I’m fairly quick-witted, and  I write comedy stuff for other people. I use that to my advantage. It’s natural for me to be funny and to try and find a joke, where I can search for a joke. I then do mind reading, because that’s the form of magic I’ve always enjoyed. I sort of mix the two, and I quite like that thing of people laughing and then being amazed.  I know Ben thinks very strongly, that it’s a difficult thing to go from laughing to being amazed naturally. He makes a very good point often, that my tricks get lost and would be more impressive, if I played them seriously. But for me, I wouldn’t enjoy that half as much. I quite like possibly the idea, that the humour disarms people so you can create.

My thing has always come from doing Edinburgh shows, so I want people to talk about my show. If they can laugh and get to the end of a trick and  go, Oh wow, and give it a fairly decent round of applause, rather than the applause it should get, if I presented it as the miracle it is.  My hope is that, as people go home, they’ll think about and go, Actually hang on a minute. They’ll start to be even more impressed the more they think about it, and therefore hopefully, talk more about the effect. But for me, particularly in this show as well, humour is where I’m lying. I want people to be entertained ,and to laugh at me or with me, or just have a smile on their face because that’s what I would like to see, so I’m trying to give that to other people. I also have a surname which allows me to pun immensely, so comedy’s pretty much– if I didn’t have that, 90% of my act would be gone.

Ben Hart – I was going to say, ironically, that’s the least funny answer to a question you’ve ever given.
Chris and Ben, what’s the best thing about Killer Magic? What sets it apart from other magic shows on TV?

Chris Cox – The best thing’s the paycheck, obviously.

Ben Hart – The best thing’s being able to work with the other magicians.

Chris Cox – Its nice. It’s taken us all out of our comfort zones a bit. I’ve learned a lot.  Ben and I’ve worked together before, and I have a lot of respect for Ben, and I’ve learned a lot from him. He enjoys my company, and puts up with me I think?

Ben Hart – Its really nice working with Chris, because we’ve worked together in the past, but its been even more interesting working with these other magicians who were not my– I was going to say, they were not my friends previously, in that, I had never met them, and now we are all very good friends. Together we like the Adams Family, or some hilarious, bizarre sitcom, where the gentleman magician has to share with the geezer, the goth shares with the girl,  and the geek– well the geek…

Chris Cox – Just sits on his own in front of the computer.

Ben Hart – I’m talking about our flats by the way. Not bedrooms.

Chris Cox – Yes, that’s what sets it apart. I think it generally feels like a different magic show, and a magic show for people who might necessarily avoid magic shows. It’s so fast paced, you’ve got no time to check your Twitter during the show.  The tricks are really different. It’s a bit like–  it’s good because if there’s someone you don’t like, or style of trick you don’t like, there’ll be another one along in a minute. Some people might not particularly like mentalism, so it doesn’t matter, because three minutes after my trick, you’ve got Ben doing an incredible piece of slight-of-hand. It’s a real mix of variety in terms of effects. It’s interesting to see, as a creative exercise for people watching, who want to think creatively. To look at the different angles we take on one set theme.
Ben Hart – It’s a bit like if you go to a magic convention, and you see a really brilliant magic convention show, where act after act is really, really good. That’s kind of what we’ve got, going on with this show.

Chris Cox – It’s like a magic convention that you’ll never see. That will never happen, that there’ll be act after act, which is good.

Ben Hart – The magic we’re doing is very original. We’re approaching it from a different angle to other television magic shows, in that we’re absolutely doing things live in a continuous take. It’s completely necessary. Because our show is a competition amongst each other, we have to be able to witness a genuine and live trick. So, you’re seeing very honest performances.

Chris Cox – Yeah, and despite the fact there are cuts for time, what you are seeing can be performed live. The people taking part, saw what you see as the final product. That’s the thing they expect, particularly for Ben and I, who do live shows. Everything I do, I want to be able to replicate on stage.

Ben Hart – Absolutely. Some of the stuff we’ve shot, will make it’s way into my live show, and some of the stuff we’ve shot has had it’s basis in my live show.

Ben, when’s your live show and how can people get tickets?

Ben Hart – Well, you can get tickets– my live show is called Ben Hart, The Outsider, directed by television’s very own Anthony Owen.

Chris Cox – Now, I know why you got the gig.

Ben Hart – He’s executive producer on this TV show, and we’ve now been collaborating for a couple of years. Anthony’s brilliant. Working with Anthony really helped me to understand how to sculpt a show, to tell a story. My show has a sort of loose narrative through it. He brought to the project, the sort of understanding of film and television that we could put on stage. So we have segments of video which are intercut with live performance. I’m touring throughout April, May, June and a couple of dates in July. I’m going all over the country and abroad. The show includes all kinds of sleight of hand. It’s manipulative type magic. I was really lucky this year, in that it was a big success at the Fringe, which was a surprise to me. I worked with Anthony Owen,

Chris Cox – Hey Ben, funny you should ask, I also have a live show to promote.

Ben Hart – So Chris Cox has brilliant live show called Fatal Distraction starting on the 3rd of May.

Chris Cox – It’s like no other mentalism show. It’s a proper narrative-based theatre piece with occasional lulls,s, little bit heartbreak, and some proper decent mentalism, the likes of which you’ve never seen. here’s some magic tricks in there. It’s basically is good show, people like it.

Ben Hart – I can tell you now, it’s a brilliant show. It’s playing in a lovely venue on the Southbank – the Udderbelly.

Ben, what is it like consulting and creating magic to be used on stage and on TV? Do you find it stressful or does the pressure adds to the excitement of what you do?

Ben Hart – The pressure definitely adds to the excitement, but the most brilliant thing you can do as a magician or creator, is to create something, and then pass it over to a performer that does it better than your wildest dreams. I’ve been very, very lucky to work with some brilliant magicians but if I’m honest, I prefer working with actors who have no magic ability, because you don’t need to go back, and erase all of their bad habits. When you create a trick for the theatre or film or television or whatever it might be, and you watch an actor, the first step is, can they understand the technique? In which case, you might have to– either they can or they can’t. Sometimes, you have to make it easier. Then, as soon as they’ve got the technique, at that point, you’re in this brilliant position, where you can sculpt it working with somebody who has their own brilliant talents, into something which is just – it transforms. I’ve worked on plays, where I’ve given the actors very, very basic magic to do, and it ends up, looking like a miracle. I guess, some readers will know I’ve done television consultancy, including working with– I did a bit with Ben Earl, who’s the most brilliant sleight of hands technician. That was really fascinating, because I had to be much more of a sort of– my technique is nowhere near as good as his technique, so I had to watch much more like a sort of coach or director, and that was very interesting, but also slightly stressful, because it brings out all of my magic consultant insecurities.

You have insane sleight of hand technique. What is your practice regime like? Do you practice all the time or in controlled bursts?

Firstly, thank you Dominic Reyes for commenting on my sleight of hand technique. I believe magicians should focus less on the actual technique of the trick, and a lot more on their body language. My practice regime is usually to video everything, and to playback the video and watch. Somtimes, you notice that your fingers will flicker in the wrong place, or your hands will show muscular contractions at the wrong moment. All of those things are only visible on video. If you want to be really, really regimented about it? Film yourself practicing, wait a couple of days, and then watch it back. Then you will see the truth very, very clearly. It’s a terrible and painful process and I advise every magician to pick up their phone – I assume everyone’s phone has got video – stick the phone on the sideboard, point it at yourself, and film yourself doing a joke. It’s the most valuable thing you can do.

If you get the opportunity to do a show – a run of a show – you should grab it with both hands. Because if you do, for example, the Edinburgh Fringe, you can do 27 shows in a month – night after night. That’s more than most magicians do in the year, so you really, really learn a lot as a performer by having that sort of repetition. Also, it forces you to mix with other performers, and it forces you to get audience feedback. The idea that a show is never finished, is really important. Creating a show, you go through this endless evolution, which is very necessary. When you go out to do a close-up magic gig, most magicians do their material the same way all the time. But if instead, they saw it as a constant evolution, and instead, every night they’d change something, they’d be much better magicians I suspect.

– See more at: http://blog.magicshop.co.uk/2014/04/killer-magic-magicians-interviews-chris-cox-ben-hart.html#sthash.TfU0vF3s.dpuf

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 timminchin.com. Chris Cox will be performing his show Fatal Distraction at the Udderbelly Festival, London SE1, on 29 May and 19 June

Dominion Post NZ – Mind reader or not? Chris Cox tells all

“I always disliked people who pretended to be a psychic,” declares Englishman Chris Cox.

“What I always liked about magic is that you were dishonest – but you were quite truthful in that you were lying to people.”

It sums up Cox’s credo and partly explains his billing in the New Zealand International Comedy Festival as “the mind reader who can’t read minds”.

The funny thing is that while Cox, 28, can’t read minds, he’s so good at what he does that more often than not it appears that he really does know what we’re thinking.

Ahead of Cox’s shows next week, Wellington audiences got a 10-minute teaser during First Laughs at the Opera House on Sunday night. Cox brought three audience members on stage and asked each to choose a different coloured headband to wear, then sit on one of three chairs on stage. One woman was asked to go through a bag containing bits of paper describing pieces of clothing, while Cox said he would know the answers to a series of yes and no questions he put to the three. Cox appeared to get some of the questions wrong. But in a twist that left many in the audience gasping and whispering “how did he do that?”, Cox then went on to reveal that he knew all along what he would get wrong or right. He also knew ahead of time which coloured headbands each of the three would choose, the specific chair they would sit on and the item of clothing on the chosen scrap of paper.

Cox is well aware of the long history of “mind readers” as entertainment. “In the early days it was often a swami going ‘I know what you were thinking’.

“For me what’s interesting is pulling back the curtain a bit. You put your cards on the table and say ‘look, I’m not actually able to do this. Here are some of the techniques I use, now watch what I can do with it’. I like to start off gently and show some of the techniques behind the things as I’m doing it – and that stuff gets hidden more and more as you go down a slightly more incredible route.”

Cox says it’s also an acknowledgement that today’s audiences are smart enough to know that people can’t actually read minds. “But within that you still want to enjoy it as if it’s real. I always hate the idea of someone that sat in the show seeing it as a jigsaw puzzle and trying to work it out.”

Cox’s approach has paid off. Since he began his act while at university eight years ago, he’s become a star of the comedy circuit. It’s included several Edinburgh Fringe shows – along with two Fringe awards – three West End shows and numerous television and radio spots. Kelly Osbourne and Dannii Minogue are fans and one of Cox’s biggest champions is British comedian Ricky Gervais. Cox says praise and recognition from big names has helped. “It’s flattering for anyone to like me, let alone someone whose work I admire. Live entertainment is the best thing in the world. It’s a great thing to go and do. But, particularly in the UK, money’s tight for people and it’s a lot of money to come out and see a show. Hopefully those people liking me, that other people recognise and admire, [makes] people think ‘he’s worth the risk’.”

Cox got his first taste when he was given a magic set when he was six years old. “My parents used to take me up to London to see my uncle and aunt and we’d always pop into a magic shop there and buy a magic trick. I always enjoyed performing and magic I gravitated towards.”

And yes, he says, there have been moments in his shows where he’s stumbled with an audience member. “It happens quite often, there are lots of times I’m good at covering it so no- one will really know. Rarely a week of shows goes by where I won’t pick someone to use for a trick and then look at them and change my mind and send them back.”

One of the most significant developments in Cox’s career he could only confirm in the past week: the Syfy channel in the United States has signed him up to do what at the moment is known as “the untitled Chris Cox project”.

“It will be a mind-reading show following my life as I try to mess with people’s minds,” Cox says.

“I am quite excited. [Television] is a very different beast. I know the world of theatre and performing my own shows, I know how to do the tricks and how to make stuff work. We’re trying to develop it in a way to make that come across on TV and still get the wow factor – still get people to feel involved and enjoy the performance.

“I still feel that I’m at the very early stages of my career. I haven’t hit a point where the momentum suddenly explodes. What I like now is the excitement of being able to come to Wellington for the first time and I’m still a ‘new act’ to the city. I’m a new act with a load of experience.”

By Tom Hardy for the Dominion Post, New Zealand

London Festival Fringe: Interview about Fatal Distraction

Chris Cox, the lanky, brilliant ‘Award Winning Mind Reader Who Can’t Read Minds’ is as cheery and exuberant an interviewee as he is on stage. Before speaking to him, I was feeling unwell – he perked me up again, a lovely comic medicine. Cox has a wonderfully upbeat manner that makes everybody like him; his shows have had rave reviews, garnering serious praise from many. He’s described by Time Out as ‘doing tricks that would make Jesus proud’. Essentially, then, he’s a miracle-worker – bloody impressive for someone who’s only 28. Where did it all begin?

“I was one of those annoying kids that got a Paul Daniel’s magic set for my sixth birthday. Then we went to Cornwall one holiday and I got a video of Pen and Teller. I watched it over and over – it blew my mind! I’m friends with them now, we go for dinner when they’re in London. It’s weird, but amazing. I studied psychology at college – I was interested in the mind, finding out how that side of things worked, and I started doing the Edinburgh Fringe around the same time as Tim Minchin. He really inspired me. He’s constantly surprising his audience, and he made me work so much harder; he knows how to give an audience the best magic.”

Is it hard to keep the old ego in check? He is avidly admired by fellow perfomers; Ricky Gervais has said he’s “brilliant”, and he’s been hailed as the “new Derren Brown”. It’s quite the accolade for a young ‘un.

“It’s weird and great. It’s odd – you perform because you want to be liked, and if people like you…I have to not let it get to my head. But then the good reviews help people find out about you and come to your show. When I heard Ricky Gervais’s distinctive, screechy laugh at my show and I thought ‘I did that’ – well, that was pretty cool. I hugely admire him, it was an incredible feeling. I want to walk around quoting my good reviews! But I won’t.”

You can’t begrudge him wanting to boast a tiny bit; he’s got the goods to back it up. And he has adoring fans, too – they even bring him snacks. “Before I go to bed, I like to eat cheese and crackers. It’s lovely. Anyway, I was in Edinburgh last year and I couldn’t find Jacob’s crackers anywhere, and I said so on Twitter, and this lady turned up to my show with a box. Brilliant.”

I wonder if he’s had any other strange experiences with over-zealous followers? “No…apart from the crackers. I worry when they ask for a kiss it will turn into something more inappropriate.”

Perks of fame? “Hah, yeah – I suppose so! I’d probably just go for it anyway.”

Funny, charming, and seriously talented – Chris Cox is magic.

Chris Cox will be performing his award-winning show, ‘Fatal Distraction’, at E4’s Udderbelly Festival in London’s South Bank Centre in May and June. For tickets, go to https://www.underbelly.co.uk/Chris-Cox. To find out more about Chris, go to http://magiccox.com/.

The New Current: Interview about Fatal Distraction

Going to see Chris Cox, the ‘mind reader who can’t read minds’ has become a TNC tradition during the Edinburgh Fringe festival. His type of show is pure magic to see with a packed out audience who become willing players in his great delusion. The show’s magic stems from Cox’s professionalism and beauty as a performer who makes it seem effortless even though you can be assured he has given his soul to the show.
Sitting as far back away from the flying teddy as I can get I watch the show hoping that I can pick holes and see ‘how he does it’, but after seeing him three times – once even making the stoney-faced Amanda Holden look amazed – your 100% guaranteed leave his show puzzled and bemused.

Chris Cox has youth on his side but the maturity of an act who has been playing the circuit for years and he gives his all to his audience. There are only a few acts I have doffed my cap to, Cox is one of the best! And you can catch Chris Cox’s Udderbelly Festival show two times this year details can be found at the end of his TNC EXCLUSIVE interview and on the Udderbelly Festival Website.

Hey man how are things going, you had much rest since Edinburgh?

Things are going good thanks for asking, how nice and polite of you. Rest since Edinburgh seems to have been lacking, I finished my successful sell out run then pretty much went straight out on tour till the end of the year. Then this year started with me filming in LA, I’m just about to head out to do a big load of shows in New Zealand and some more LA filming, and then I’ll be back to do the two Udderbelly shows. Those props are going to have a lot of air-miles on them.

We have seen you twice now and there is a hell of a lot of energy how do you put your show together?

Why thank you. I can only assume the second time was due to a terrible administrative error when booking tickets. Shows take me ages to put together, it’s why I only do Edinburgh every other year now. Fatal Distraction was about a 18 month process. For me it starts with ideas for tricks, what sort of stuff would I like to see done, what would be entertaining, what would I do if I could really do this stuff, that sort of thing. Then I try to work out how to do those tricks. I really want to create stuff that no one has seen before. If you go see a few magic shows you very quickly start to see the same tricks, props and methods, and I want to avoid that, so spend forever coming up with my own stuff. The big difference with Fatal Distraction is that I wanted to do a narrative based mind-reading show themed around love. So for this one I wrote it originally as a one-man play.. and then turned it into the show which you saw and hopefully others will come see at the Udderbelly.

It is an easy process to start producing a new show?

Nope. Far from it, the ideas come quite quickly, but turning them into something that’s good, now that’s where the struggle is. I love theatre so try to put theatrical production values into my show, set, lighting, direction, narrative threads, highs, lows, laughs, tears all that. I want to make it as entertaining as possible so put a heap load of pressure on myself to try do that.
60% of the show is the audience and how you interact with them, how much can you do without them?
You’re right, the show is so audience dependent, if anything the audience is more important than me, and the audience is the real star of the show. There’s not a huge amount I can do without them, because it’s their thoughts and their minds that I’m playing with and influencing. Everything relies on those responses. There’s a whole section of the show where I have nothing planned, I just ask my audience to think of things for me to do, and I start doing them. That would be a very quiet bit if they weren’t there.

For a young performer where do you get the confidence from to work an audience like you do?

I suppose there are a few reasons why I have the confidence, mainly because although I’m young, I’ve been doing this forever. I’ve always wanted to perform and entertain, I always wrote in to get on TV shows when I was young, I ended up on Run The Risk and Live & Kicking oh and The Big Breakfast. I used to perform in shows and plays, so I am never happier than when I’m on stage. I adore it, it’s where I feel most at home. I’ve done 5 years worth of Edinburgh shows, a couple of UK tours and international tours, so I think the confidence shines through now because I am so use to what I’m doing and so comfortable doing it. I’m sure if you’d seen me a few years ago it’d have been very different, but I feel I know who I am, who my audience think I am and what I want them to do, to be able to control and play with them. Also on a purely psychological level if they aren’t comfortable watching me and don’t see me as confident and knowing what I’m doing… then the whole show is kind of lost.

For those who have not seen you show tell us a little bit about what you do?

I’m a mind reader who can’t read minds, so the same as all those other mind-readers, but a bit more honest. I use various techniques including a bit of magic and psychology to make people think that I know what they’re thinking. So basically I’ll read your mind, but promise you that I can’t actually read your mind. The current show has a lovely theatrical narrative, and is loosely themed around love, there’s loads of fun audience participation and no two shows are ever the same.
Because you use the audience quiet a bit in your shows do you ever get nervous that they might be a little too quiet?
That’s always a worry, I’m only as good as the audience, I don’t shine, if you don’t shine. Normally I’m quite good at turning a quiet audience round to be the audience I want them to be. Often at the start of shows they are a bit quite, but quickly realise we’re all in this together and end up getting really involved. In fact, it’s always nice after shows when people say to me that they’d normally never want to go on stage, but sat there hoping to be picked.

How did you get into magic and not being able to read minds?

Like I said earlier, performing has always been what I want to do and magic kind of joined in with that. I got a kit for my birthday when I was young and always used to perform tricks to friends and family, then in my mid teens I got into mind-reading, as I felt it was all about theatricality and performance and instantly loved doing it and haven’t really looked back.

What was your first show like?

My first Edinburgh show was somewhat scatty, but the basics were there. I used my student loan to put it on and I hadn’t quite found who I was on stage, but enjoyed playing the, I might be shit, but I’m not, card. I think there wasn’t the expectation of, well this should be good, then, so it came as more of a surprise when stuff actually started to work and was impressive. I had this whole section involving me interacting with versions of myself on a screen which I remember really enjoying performing, but it never quite working the way I wanted it to… I’d like to find a way to re-work that in the future. However there were two very early versions of my two favourite and most performed tricks in that show.. so it wasn’t all bad.

Would you ever give away any of your secrets?

Some of them yes, some of them no. I don’t mind giving some away if it enhances the trick and the experience for an audience. I hate to think people sit there watching trying to work out how stuff is done, because it means they aren’t living in the moment of the show.. I try to build in things that means when you go home and talk about or think about the show, methods appear to you and you might see how certain bits were done.. and I think that’s a really good thing to do. There’s an old saying of magicians guard and empty safe, which is true, because the actual secrets are boring, you don’t really want to know them, it’s much more fun enjoying it for what it is and trying to work it out yourself.

Your taking part in the Udderbelly Festival this year, what can we expect?

You can expect to see the award winning, multi 5 star show Fatal Distraction in the best shape it’s been after the Edinburgh run, a UK tour and I’ll have just come back from playing to 600 people a night in New Zealand. Expect to laugh, to go wow, to think that was amazing, to be able to control me, to get a bit emotional and to have a bloody good time. Oh and you might get your very own I Love Cox badge.

And finally, what advice would you give someone who might want to follow in your footsteps?

Don’t. Find your own path to walk in… it takes a while but when you truly find who you are as a performer and entertainer then you will be the happiest you can be. Alternatively offer me enough money and I’ll tell you exactly how I do it all.