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909 Comedy Series: Christopher Carter amazes students

By Eric Brand
On December 5, 2012

On Friday, professional mentalist Christopher Carter left his audience speechless in the latest 909 Comedy Series performance at Watkins Auditorium.Although Carter said he was not a mind reader before starting his act, his flawless manipulation of the audience during the show would make that hard to believe.

Carter began by demonstrating how acute his sense of observation was by having members of the audience think of a playing card while he tried to guess what it was based on their body language. Blinking eyes and tensing shoulders might as well have been words on a sign to Carter, as he guessed correctly every time.

Carter says he likes to begin his show this way because it gives his audience a sample of his technique. The audience was impressed by Carter's knowledge of nonverbal communication, but one small hint was definitely not enough to make the show less of a surprise.

As his act went on, Carter's skill for extracting details from participants became increasingly impressive, exposing personal details about people that he in no way could have known. In fact, Carter often called on audience members, and then addressed them by name before they introduced themselves.

Especially impressive feats were the ones during Carter's act that involved predictions he had written before the show, which were often accurate to a very specific degree. Having said before starting the show that he did not claim to be a psychic, Carter's use of paralanguage was the only explanation of how he could effectively coax volunteers into behaving exactly how the predictions said they would.

The performance was concluded when two volunteers held fluorescent light bulbs in front of Carter, who lit both bulbs with the touch of his hand. The women serving as volunteers were visibly shaken by the experience.

A show like this requires a lot of audience participation, so Carter likes to make the act humorous in order to help the audience feel comfortable with participating. However, Carter does not prewrite his comedic material; his humorous material is made on the spot to give his performance a unique and natural flow.

On stage, Carter is in a constant state of concentration, but he says that offstage he is fairly normal; as easy to fool as anyone else when he is not concentrating. He says that his skill works like a tool in the sense that he has to deliberately channel a receptive state of mind. Carter is often asked to demonstrate his ability outside of shows, but he rarely obliges; comparing the situation to being treated like a trained monkey.

Like a muscle, Carter's mind requires exercise daily in order to stay fit for a show. Practice often involves memory exercises and observing people, which is Carter's personal favorite.

"My favorite place to do it is airports," Carter said, likely because it is an ideal place to find different kinds of people in one location.

Even though he has performed in front of audiences for over 20 years, Carter has only performed overseas once, which was in Scotland. Carter plans to visit more overseas locations, but for now campus shows have taken up most of his time.

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