Chris Cox at South StreetBy Mike Pyle
October 06, 2011
Chris Cox is a mentalist – he says so himself. He also admits that his mind-reading is somewhat flawed because he can’t read minds and that he’s a ‘young scrawny person who shouldn’t be able to do anything’.
But despite all that you should make sure you catch him when he performs his unique act at South Street arts centre in October because, although he might not read it, he could well blow your mind.
Chris is only 27 but he’s just finished his fifth year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and received some rave reviews for his new act – Fatal Distraction.
The show is a mix of psychology, comedy, magic and lying as he predicts what people are thinking in a similar way to Derren Brown but, as he says, ‘in a more fun way’.
“I say I’m a mind reader who can’t read minds,” he reveals. “I can’t really do any of the stuff I say I do – I’m a young scrawny person who shouldn’t be able to do anything.”
And it might surprise you to learn that his magic act stems not from watching great conjurers on telly when he was a tot, but from the classroom.
“I did psychology at school and I realised that psychology mixed with magic could make it more interesting,” he explains.
“Technically, I’m a mentalist – that’s what what I do is called.
“I taught my brain to work in a weird way and now I can manipulate the way people think and predict what they are going to do."
So, does it work on girls? “The premise of this show is whether I use my skills to get girls,” says Chris. “In reality I suppose I could but that’s only one step away from rohypnol so I don’t.
“There’s things I do that I couldn’t do in real life but I’m sure there are elements of it that I use in real life without really knowing it.
“I’m sure I get better deals when I’m haggling for things and I’m good at getting upgrades on flights, sure.”
It’s the second time that Chris has played South Street and he says he’s looking forward to coming back because last time the audience was “really nice and eager to take part”.
He adds: “I came back again last year to see someone else who was playing and I was amazed to see that the poster from the last time I played was still up in the office – that was really cool.”
Chris has spent two years preparing Fatal Distraction and says it’s his most theatrical show yet and says the good reviews following his performances in Scotland in the summer have made him really excited to be performing around the rest of the UK.
“People saying nice stuff about you is really flattering.” he says. “It makes all the effort feel worthwhile although, having said that, one of the weird things is that I’d probably still be doing my acts even if no-one was watching.”
Chris is from Bristol but it was a local man who inspired him to come up with his act – as a child he got a Paul Daniels magic set and went from there although he says now he tries to distinguish himself from magicians.
“It’s a strange thing,” he said, “the magician can be a bit of a ****head, saying ‘look at me, look what I can do’, and I don’t really like to be like that.”
Chris did take time out from his Edinburgh show to see Wargrave-based master magician Paul Daniels.
“He was at Edinburgh this year and I watched his show – I massively enjoyed it, he was brilliant,” he says.
“It’s a bit like going to a museum and seeing an ancient Egyptian exhibit – it’s like ‘this is how we were 20 years ago’ because his act just hasn’t changed.
“It’s good that things like that are still around because it’s what allows me to be different.”
If you like Chris you’re in good company – he counts Whitley comic Ricky Gervais, Tim Minchin and Danii Minougue among his fans – and if you really like him you can even wear a badge.
“I give out ‘I Love Cox’ badges at my shows,” said Chris, “I’m a big fan of puns.”
Chris Cox is playing at South Street Arts Centre in Reading on Saturday, October 8, from 8pm, as part of the Reading Comedy Festival.
Tickets, priced at £12, are available through www.readingarts.com or by calling the box office on (0118) 960 6060.