Return to media reviews


Growing up, I loved magic. Specifically, I consumed as much closeup and mentalism content as I could. Derren Brown—fairly well-known in the UK, and almost unheard of in the US—has produced many stage shows and TV programs. He is a hypnotist and mentalist who explores skepticism, psychology, and culture.

His style of mentalism is sort of as a dishonest conman. On one level, he's a conman: he's a magician and mentalist. His goal is to trick you. However, he also presents as a metaphysical skeptic and has spent a lot of his career debunking fake spiritual conmen. He's dishonest in that he cheats, often giving explanations of "psychology", when his methods are more classic magic trickery. However, he's good. He's a brilliant showman and entertainer.

Showman is not Derren's most amazing show, technically speaking, but potentially the most personal. It's a life letter to... well, that would kind of spoil it, so I'll just say it's intensely personal. My wife doesn't care much about magic, and enjoyed the show, recognizing the heart and soul he poured into it. I do enjoy magic, and appreciated the layers of misdirection and trickery he used to pull off the show.


These are entirely subjective, and roughly try to capture my personal enjoyment and usefulness, and how likely I'd recommend it to others. Don't read too much into this unless you love my judgement. Rough guidelines:

A: Top quartile. Changed the way I think about something.

B: Worthwhile. I took away something useful.

C: Didn't hit, wouldn't directly recommend. Likely won't revisit.

Stay connected

I send out occasional updates on posts, interesting finds, and projects I'm working on. I'd love to include you. No tracking, one-click unsubscribe.