UK comedian Chris Cox claims to be a mind reader who can't read minds. But based on his show at the NZ International Comedy Festival this year, I'm starting to suspect perhaps the young man really can read minds after all.
Cox is not your usual comedian, in that he doesn't just stand on a stage and spout jokes at an audience.
No, in his own charming way (and using a ferret in a jumper), he picks out members of his audience to demonstrate his knack of knowing what's going to come next. (But don't be alarmed, more timid audience members - Cox doesn't humiliate his participants and doesn't make them do anything too taxing or embarrassing.)
Cox's enthusiasm on stage appears to be boundless and those who see the show will leave the theatre wondering how on Earth he manages to do what he does.
I, myself, don't know how Cox manages to be on the money so often with his audience predictions, but I do know 'Fatal Distraction' is funny, fascinating and a bloody good hour of entertainment.
A mind reader who can't read minds but who's a bit more honest about it? The Tui billboard writes itself really, doesn't it? Except, with Chris Cox it about sums up his act.
As you wander into his latest show, Fatal Distraction, you're greeted by ushers wanting to get you to fill out some information and provide a list of things for Chris to do in his act.
But even if you think you know where he's going to go with it, I can guarantee you don't have the slightest clue about where the journey's going to take you.
He's asked that secrets of the show aren't revealed - and fair enough, I'll afford this boisterous Brit that very courtesy - suffice to say, it's loosely an act which has a story thread running through it. One of those threads is that you're only one "What if" away from a different life....
However, the major thrill of this show is the audience participation - Chris' show is not one where you can sit back and not get involved; thanks to the hurling around of a soft toy, his victims (in the loosest sense of the word) are chosen and feats performed that simply have you sitting there, scratching your head and voicing out "WTF?"
It's very easy to be cynical about an act like this - sure, you can argue the suggestions are placed in volunteers' heads by potentially loaded questions - though, to be honest, if you're thinking that, it's a surefire sign that this quick talking Brit, a crown prince of distraction, has got under your skin and got your grey matter puzzling away.
Cox is enthusiastic, fast talking, funny, (albeit with a bad line in some corny puns here and there) and the provider of a great hour's worth of entertainment. It's cleverly masterful stuff throughout and it's guaranteed to leave you puzzled but greatly amused.
Thanks to a generally good natured and genial host, you're happy to sit back and be confounded; Chris is even generous to stick around afterwards to meet the crowd.
I'd wanted to go to talk to him and profess to know how he'd done it (I didn't have the first clue if I was brutally honest but pure swagger would never see me admit that) but sometimes, the magic is simply left alone and you're best to bathe in the glow of a mind blowingly good, brilliantly entertaining show which leaves you beaming from ear to ear as it finishes.
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.
To read more, go to: http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/international-comedy-festival/6887612/Comedy-review-Chris-Cox
Theatreview''Sit back and marvel at this master craftsman working the crowd and weaving his way into a full house of seemingly unsuspecting minds.''open/close
How does he do it? This lanky Brit defies the odds by getting into the selected heads of audience members and revealing incredibly specific thoughts. While openly admitting he cannot read minds, that appears to be exactly what he achieves with an almost 100% success rate on opening night.
At first I try hard to rationalise his processing – he must be a driven perfectionist with a photographic memory for a start – plus I suss one little quick-switch-magician's-trick during the night… Yet the man is such a shrewd operator that finding a logical matrix for his overall mind manipulation, becomes a headache.
So instead of feeling comically violated, I decide to sit back and marvel at this master craftsman working the crowd and weaving his way into a full house of seemingly unsuspecting minds. That proves to be a far more entertaining (and relaxing) way to spend an evening with Cox.
Exploring the mind is in vogue, with TV programmes such as The Mentalist and Touch enjoying high ratings. Seeing the process live is far more engaging. The production itself is effervescent from the start, with Cox's voice over asking us to write down contributions as we take our seats through to the opening credits on an AV screen.
Cox bounces on and welcomes us with a well-rehearsed stand up routine that is sprinkled with self depreciation about his skinny frame and unusual looks, as well as honesty about his abilities. I think his intention is to make himself accessible, fallible and likable, so we are more willing to relax and go on the journey with him. It works.
The show's narrative involves Cox enlisting the help of various audience members to scribe, participate in and suggest various scenarios to drive his reoccurring story about how he found love. He even gives a little stirring sermon about love at the end. Apparently timing is everything, and it will all come together when the timing is right. Cox is fully wired and energized from start to finish. Intense, charismatic, talkative and smart, he drives the night at lightening pace, with the help of a stuffed toy and a bouncy ball.
A few opening night glitches by Jamie the technician do not detract from Cox's mastery – it simply magnifies the organic abilities and sharpness of Cox as he works with whatever the night gives him. He takes a huge leap of faith, as do the audience, and the results are astonishing.
Even though I'm fully aware of the fact that he is a master of using word association and reading body language as he takes a good look at his audience, and even though I know he is using the power of suggestion by carefully planting significant indicative words in amongst what seems to be just stream of consciousness chat, and even though I know he is using some sort of subliminal messaging through his psychedelic images on the AV screen and seemingly random props scattered round the stage… I am still astounded by his abilities.
We are left scratching our heads in wonder and amazement. How did he know that man's phone number??? How did he know that woman wanted him to recite one very specific line from a Harry Potter book?!?
Go see Cox – send him your thoughts and see what comes back. Extraordinary.
Vivienne Frances Long, Entertain Me'Magic comedian or quippy anticipator, who knows what this young Englishman’s game is. Just know this: if you intend to be in Cox’s audience, ready yourself to hop on the Cox bandwagon and earn yourself a badge. 'open/close
Blue lycra leggings aside, I would say Chris Cox is easy on the eyes, stomach and heart. As he pounced and stampeded across Q’s Rangatira stage last Saturday night, he made my eyes dart, supplied my belly with a ‘full-of-laughs-ache’ and ponder the existence of magic.
From go, Cox honestly repents his abilities as a mind reader. Then he anticipates thought after thought, and move after move. So maybe he was joking, maybe he can. Either way, it’s entertaining.
Cox oozed stage presence with his commanding pre-show voice through a loud speaker. Add legs plus all the rest and you’ve got a born showman and storyteller traversing a stage filled with his personal props. This even included a single clothes line. In the midst of his comedic hour, I couldn’t help but feel like he had us all pegged.
The audience is asked to fill in the gaps, and then decide, through kindergarten-like games, certain aspects of the woman and their relationship. Then, as though we’re in a comic Cluedo charade, Cox reviles to us - his bemused audience - that our responses were all predicted in advance. Even his inaccuracies turn out not to be inaccuracies, but rather to have been anticipated too.
Magic comedian or quippy anticipator, who knows what this young Englishman’s game is. Just know this: if you intend to be in Cox’s audience, ready yourself to hop on the Cox bandwagon and earn yourself a badge. Scouts honour, there’s a high chance of contribution, close to 1 in 5, that you will donate to the laughs personally.
Fatal Distraction is a clever, high energy game of “what if”. And Chris Cox is as self-described; aimless, mouthy, trashy, flashy, premature and rampant. But if you don’t leave wondering “how the f**k did he do that….?”, then you must have walked into the wrong show.
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RoyI cringe at the thought of audience participation, I cringe at the thought of being singled out by a comedian, I don’t heckle & I hate being heckled in return. That said, I went to see Chris Cox’s show last night called “Fatal Distraction” with the full understanding that I would probably have to be involved in some way for the nights entertainment, oh dear God no. This knowledge was unfortunately gained from reviews POST ticket purchase.
However, by the end of the night I was a willing accomplice, I actually wanted to be part of this amazing show & was thrilled when I was. Chris Cox’s gentle nature & his non-threatening way to incite audience involvement was all l needed to be converted. It was so easy to get into the spirit of the night especially as I quickly saw that there was very little chance of making a dick of myself, which is always on the cards. If I was to, it wouldn’t be the fault of Chris Cox; it would be me just me being me.
I have read so many times that his show is full of WTF moments, guess what? I totally agree! The complete show, from start to finish was an amazing experience which at times made me sit there opened mouthed at what I was seeing – to say that most of it was unbelievable would be an understatement … it defied belief, it actually suspended dis-belief, I wanted to believe & I did … it doesn’t bother me that this mind-reader says can’t actually read minds, for me I have this sneaky feeling that he can ... how else does he do it? I actually think that the Fatal Distraction in the show title could refer to the distraction of trying to work out just how he does it. To do so for any length of time would just have you miss out on the next WTF moment, and then next one. I thoroughly recommend this show to everyone, bring the kids, bring your parents, I guarantee that you will all be talking about this show for a very long time.
If you want to be blown away by a mind-reader who is thoroughly skilled at not being able to read minds, while having a totally enjoyable evening go see Fatal Distraction by Chris Cox, it does more than it says on the box, so much more!
louiseabsolute treat of an evening, no hesitation in recommending to anyone, very gentle with his audience, actually fun to join in even if you don't want to!
Faith-Ashleigh WongHe will amaze and blow your mind - highly recommended! Please see my full review here: http://bit.ly/JdQqkf :)
AnthonyHe's unassuming. He's got a slick opening to the show that features AV and a stage set full of props. And a ferret with a cardigan, plus two whiteboards. You'll be dragged into his world of coincidences (or is it mind reading) and be amazed. Absolutely first class. Go see. Now. 4 1/2 stars