August 3, 2007 - 9:00 pm
Gerry McCambridge, aka "The Mentalist," has an interactive show full of audience input that makes this job of writing about it just a little easier.
"It’s Aunt Debbie. I’m at that show. It’s really cool, I’m not kidding."
Aunt Debbie’s nephew was the first person contacted after McCambridge started a cell phone race to solicit help from someone not already in the audience.
His show at the Hooters Hotel is indeed cool for offering new twists on traditional stage magic. As McCambridge explains at the beginning of the show, a magician makes you ask, "How did he do those tricks?" The mentalism act inspires you to ask, "Were those tricks?"
The smart money is on "yes," though McCambridge disguises his work so well that only well-versed magicians might recognize variations on established tricks of the trade (many of them seem to stem from one known as "the prediction board"). The bulk of it is much more baffling than the cabinet slicing you see on the Strip.
How does he, while blindfolded, call out sets of initials, and from there deduce audience members’ names?
How, while still blindfolded, does he sync his watch to the time randomly set by an audience member?
And how did he get six numbers, collected in different ways over the course of the evening, to show up on a note inside an envelope that’s been hanging in view of the crowd?
Not having ready answers does not mean the show is light on skepticism.
"Can I say something? I think the people you chose are working with you."
This came from an active senior named Gill, who was called to the stage as was one of several people to think of a three-digit number close to the one McCambridge claimed to "project" into the minds of the audience.
McCambridge moves the show along with a New York wise-guy banter, filling the gaps with one-liners he has collected during his years of working private parties and corporate dates. But it’s undeniably funny when unexpected input throws him off script.
The Mentalist snapped back sarcastically that, yes, everyone used in the show is on the payroll. "It hasn’t been cost-effective yet, but I will figure out how to turn a profit." Gill backed down after McCambridge produced a board upon which he had predicted the color of Gill’s shirt and the fact that his number, 723, would be within two of the 725 that McCambridge had in mind.
The heavy level of audience participation, combined with the head-scratching quality of the act, sends people home talking. Word of mouth helped make McCambridge a locals favorite during a year he spent at the Rampart Casino, and can only aid his current challenge: a three-night schedule fitted around resident comedian Bobby Slayton.
Returning to a small room is a plus. Visually, the act is more suited to a comedy club and the lack of flashy visuals isn’t as noticeable as it was when The Mentalist tried his luck in the big showroom at the Stardust.
But the name of the place is Hooters, and even though McCambridge constantly reminds the crowd of why they should be impressed, he’s inclined to draw crowds prone to back talk.
"And you’re The Mentalist?"
This was a near-simultaneous catcall from a whole table after McCambridge messed up the name of one audience recruit. But he had a quick comeback.
"I know (stuff). I don’t remember (stuff)."MIKE WEATHERFORDMORE COLUMNS
REVIEW who: "Gerry McCambridge — The Mentalist&Quot; when: 6 p.m. Saturdays, 8 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays where: Hooters Hotel, 115 E. Tropicana Ave. tickets: $36.95 (866-584-6687) rating: B