Phenomenon, or Welcome to Joe’s Casino of Saukville

I just finished watching the new mentalist search show with Uri Geller and Criss Angel, Phenomenon. The show itself is pretty standard as far as the contest shows go, each contestant demonstrates his/her talent and the audience gets to vote on their favorite, or least favorite contestants.  But this time they’re looking for mentalists – you know, those people who can make you believe they’re reading your mind or enabling you to read minds, etc.  This is one of the most difficult professions ever.  Not everyone can lie and make it look good – in fact, most people can’t.  And most of tonight’s contestants didn’t do much better than the average illusionist/magician/mentalist/whatever-you-want-to-call-them that works at Joe’s Casino of Saukville (aka your average local casino magic show – thank Mr. Jack Schill for the Saukville reference). 

The one contestant that I really enjoyed was the laid-off steel worker who endures great pain for the benefit of his audience, Jim Karol.  It seemed that, despite his claims to not feel pain, he feels the pain quite well but knows how to endure it better than most people.  His act was the only act I felt inclined to applaud.  That could be because his act was good or because we, as humans, have a strange fascination with watching others endure pain.  Or it’s my own sick fascination.  Whatever the case, I hope the rest of the contestants are entertaining like Jim.  And I hope we get to see Jim again. 

Did I forget to mention Uri’s mental challenge?  He did one of those things where the audience gets to choose a symbol on the screen and see if it’s the one he was thinking of . . . yeah, you know how that turns out.  Along with the cheesy, over-dramatic background music that seemed to never stop through the entire show, I felt like crying.  I was thankful, however, that Criss Angel is as critical of the contestants’ acts as I am of his show.  It made me feel that he understands how the whole thing works better, perhaps, than he appears to most of the time.  Hopefully, he’ll help keep the show from feeling like a cheap lounge act.

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