Every magician has the occasional bad show, and it would be unfair to write them off because of it. It would be particularly ill-advised in the case of Luke Jermay, who has built a reputation as a prodigiously talented mentalist and magic theorist and written material for god-tier magicians including Derren Brown and Chris Angel. That said, how a magician copes with a bad show is at least as important as how they pull off a great one, and on the evidence of Sixth Sense, Jermay may need to seriously rethink his approach.
The show is constructed around Jermay’s apparently unfathomable skills of prediction and mind-reading, from firing off the star signs of random audience members to predicting the passage of a book a volunteer will select. More often than not Jermay’s skills are stunning, and a great many of his routines, if slightly familiar, are genuinely very impressive. What sets the best of his mentalism apart from the work of his peers is the depth and range of the knowledge he seems to psychically mine from his audience, and his show includes moments in which a revelation that a lesser magician would construct a five minute routine around is thrown casually away as he presses on towards greater feats.
Unfortunately, his onstage persona, his patter and his reaction to the all too frequent failure of his predictions almost totally eclipse the positives. A magician’s relationship to their audience is vital, and Jermay’s is shaky from the off. Rather than authoratitive, Jermay comes across as domineering, often instructing volunteers that it is they who are in error when a predication goes awry, and while this may technically be true, it makes mechanics of your miracle look distinctly un-miraculous.
Things hit rock-bottom when a member of the audience guffaws at Jermay’s decision to quote a sophomoric Charles Bukowski poem, and he takes some time out to perch on the edge of the stage and confront her about it. It’s a cringeworthy bit of defensiveness that further erodes the already fragile bond Jermay has built with his punters.
Jermay’s patter is a confused mix of psychology and mysticism, often tying itself up in knots rather than setting up or priming the next trick. When a routine involving a deck of tarot cards gets muddled in the middle, the patter goes with it and the trick becomes extremely difficult to follow and impossible to remain enagaged with. His decision to bring eight volunteers onto the stage and leave them there for the majority of the show is a brave one and could pay off, but they’re given far too little to do. Their presence, combined with Jermay’s dictatorial patter and a few spots of shaky cold reading (‘You’re seeing a woman…a woman who’s very important to you…with…brown hair?’ – that sort of thing) gives the show the odd tang of a TV psychic.
On a good night, it may all be very different, but after an hour of being alternately talked at and talked down to by Luke Jermay, even his obvious and considerable talent is unlikely to tempt me back.