Scarily, the most hilarious psychic I’ve ever seen. Even more scarily, the most accurate. All that and he doesn’t even claim to be the real thing?
The genius mind of Tom Binns, who most famously brought us Ivan Brackenbury, has returned to this years festival with Ian D Montfort’s. I’ll admit that I saw Ian’s show last years and thought it was amazing, so returning to watch the sequel, I was anxious to see if this year’s performance would come close. It surpassed my expectations. By far.
Mr. Montfort is the most perfected stage character I’ve ever witnessed. Tom has clearly found his feet in this role now as the 60 minute performance flows with perfection. He’s able to veer off script and deal with any of the bizarre situations and ‘thoughts’ thrown at him with seeming ease. Everything he says isn’t just perfectly accurate, it’s all delivered with flawless wit.
Some ‘magic’ related shows claim to be a ‘comedy’ as the performer demonstrates impressive routines with a few throw away lines and while there is nothing wrong with that, Tom Binns is the epitome of what a comedy mind reader should be. He has crafted a faultless guise who kept the entire audience in fits of hysterics, barely giving them an opportunity to stop and gasp at how incredible his skills actually are.
Tom has designed the show to play in the style of all the so called ‘psychics’ we’re all accustomed to, so the performance is completely raw and to the point. While others have played the part of the comedy psychic before, no one has relied entirely on direct audience participation. Ian D Montfort doesn’t just rely on it, the show thrives on it.
Ian’s closing line sets to answer any question as to whether-or-not he really is psychic and as funny as this line is, I believe that much of the audience leaves non the wiser. For all we know, maybe he is psychic and he’s just toying with us?
Regardless of how he does it, I have no doubt that this character is just going to continue getting stronger with every performance. This show has become and absolute highlight of the Edinburgh Festival and with a masterful blend of both areas of performance, it is completely unmissable.
Daniel Rutledge - TV3'This constant mix of seemingly real psychic ability with Montford's hilarious mockery made for a really solid show. It'll bring a lot of joy to both sceptics and people who love to hate sceptics - and that, in itself, is a magic trick.'open/close
Ian D Montfort is a psychic medium, the alter-ego of Yorkshire comedian Tom Binns. He strikes an impossible balance - taking the mickey out of psychic mediums, while at the same time doing a surprisingly good job of mind-reading.
Montfort's demeanour is funny in itself. He prances around the stage barefoot, calling us darlings and sweethearts in an avant-garde voice, all with his blonde hair at just the right length for psychic power.
Before the show started, Montford gave cards out to each audience member. On them we wrote a small amount of information about ourselves, which he then used during the show to help perform readings. If you're afraid of audience participation at comedy shows, you shouldn't be at Montfort's gig. He isn't nasty to anyone and those in the audience he did interact with got the biggest thrills of the night.
Some of the tricks he pulls on stage are indeed just basic tricks - card tricks, dice tricks and the like. But the way he performs them is absolutely hilarious, particularly when dealing with those whom he identifies as the sceptics with the most 'bad energy' in the room.
Where the lines start getting blurred though is when Montfort actually does get stuff right. The information we had written down on cards were one thing - he may've had some sleight of hand way of reading them, perhaps - but guessing correctly audience members' star signs and significant names of people in their past was impressive and baffling.
"I'm sensing a boy from your past… I'm getting a name… Gordon?" he asked one stunned audience member who had her mouth wide open for the rest of the conversation, as he correctly identified that this was the boy with whom she had her first kiss.
"I'm sensing you drive," he told an older gentleman at another point, who of course confirmed this.
"I'm sensing... a black car," he continued. When the man said "no", he immediately corrected: "At night. It's black at night."
This line of question and answer is an exaggerated form of how terrible genuine 'psychics' are, the kinds of ones which star in Sensing Murder and never actually solve a murder, despite all their conversations with ghosts and goblins and fairies. The best gag of Montfort's along this line was a question to one bloke about white iPhones - it was a real side-splitter.
This constant mix of seemingly real psychic ability with Montford's hilarious mockery made for a really solid show. It'll bring a lot of joy to both sceptics and people who love to hate sceptics - and that, in itself, is a magic trick.
A medium who is also a comedian – now there’s an unlikely pairing. Tom Binns proves this is perfectly possible with his excellent and convincing portrayal of alter ego Ian D Montfort, the spirit “comedium”.
You are immediately drawn to Ian from the get-go as he is just such a warm and affable character. He kicks off the show by telling us that he is not like other mediums, that you do not have to be bereaved to be at his show as he only delivers messages from people you don’t know. This humorous perspective of his ability coupled with his camp disposition is part of his charm and what makes the show so enjoyable to watch.
Throughout the hour, Ian engages with the crowd and makes predictions with staggering accuracy through the usual divinatory means – astrology, tarot cards, numerology. While I don’t doubt some of his mind-reading methods must involve some form of skilled trickery, there were some things he managed to guess correctly which he couldn’t possibly have known. I still don’t know how he does it and I don’t want to know as it’s all part of the magic and brilliance of this show!
There are also times when he does get it wrong but he quickly recovers, simply amending the reading to suit so it turns out he is still right. For example he would guess that someone’s car is black and when they say no he would say matter-of-factly without a skipping a beat that it is indeed black…at night. His quick wit and sharp responses remind us that Ian is also quite the adept comedian.
Skeptic or not, there’s no denying that Ian D Montfort is an accomplished and gifted performer and what he pulls off in the show will truly astound you. This is a show you will have to see to believe, and what you will see will baffle and amaze.
Guy Williams and UK comic Chris Martin had a live web chat on the NZ Herald website last week and it was pretty enjoyable. Partly as research and partly because it was lunchtime, I decided to join in: “I have a two part question,” I wrote. “What makes something funny and when is the best time to get on the property ladder?”
Chris Martin criticised me for not understanding how to use a two part question but Guy Williams said something along the lines of: “The unexpected is always funny”.
I have held that response close to my heart, mostly because it is easy to understand. I thought of it often last night during Tom Binns’ show because almost everything he did was unexpected.
Binns is a comedian pretending to be a medium called Ian D Montfort. He hands out pre-printed cards for you to fill out as you walk in the door. He does some readings of audience members throughout the show, based around the cards. He does tarot readings and a bit where he improbably guesses some numbers. He gets an audience member to draw a picture in secret, then attempts to draw the same picture.
The medium stuff sometimes appeared impressively accurate in the same way it sometimes does when the real charlatans do it, but it was only ever in service of the comedy, which was so, so good. It was the first show at the festival during which I laughed till I cried, and I have seen some pretty funny shows, and also I am quite jaded.
I never saw anything coming: not when he first came on stage in flowing white shirt and barefeet, not when he started telling Matt in the front row that he was giving off a particularly bad energy and not at the end when he got Matt up on stage for the excellent finale.
Just like a professional medium you might see on a terrible television show, Binns’ character was an awful person pretending to be sensitive and caring. But it turns out that can be really, really funny. And that was unexpected.
Masquerading as Ian D Montfort, a lightly camp psychic from North East England – Sunderland, to be precise; well known, apparently, for harbouring a psychopathic killer – Tom Binns plays fast-and-loose with our willingness to suspend disbelief.
As we take our seats he distributes small folded cards, asking us to write our initials and signature on the front, then inside – taking care that no-one sees – write our full name, a secret about us that no-one knows and a question we'd like answered (that we don't already know the answer to). These are collected by an audience member in a colourful shopping bag which remains fully visible down-stage centre throughout the show.
Also fully visible at all times, up-stage centre, is a sealed envelope which contains predictions Montfort keeps on referring to in portentous tones.
He has the spirit medium / clairvoyant / astrologist patter down perfectly, every now and then chatting with someone on ‘the other side' in a variety of ways that give us a strong impression of their varied personalities.
Initially it seems clear it is all a piss-take, what with his talking about working off “vocal vibrations” to determine our star signs. Having identified a sceptic to work with – a Dutchman called Thijs (pronounced Tice) – the means by which he deduces his star sign is blatantly obvious, albeit subverted on this occasion by his pronunciation of ‘e' as if it was ‘a'. Yet every subsequent time he engages with someone throughout his 80 minutes, he accurately picks their star sign.
This is his genius: he plays about making it look as if it's all an amiable con-job then floors us all with inexplicable insights and knowledge. When he picks a card from the bag, clearly holding it closed, he unerringly teases out the secret contents with unnerving accuracy. Only now, as I write this, do I think I know how he does it (but of course I won't give it away). And yet those star signs have never been written down …
Montfort's accuracy in the Numerology sequence, involving an audience member with a die and plastic coffee cup, remains a mystery. And his Doodle-ology demonstration, whereby he accurately reproduces an audience member's doodle, draws an impressed gasp and applause for us all.
There is a dark side to his show, brought out through a deck of Tarot cards and at the expense of Thijs, whose happy demeanour as the game plays out this night encourages Montfort to take it to the proverbial wire. More specifically, he takes it to the afore-mentioned sealed envelope. And the revelations therein are guaranteed to have our jaws dropping as we applaud the spooky skill.
Tom Binns as Ian D Montfort is a well-crafted show, ideally pitched for the Bats auditorium. If you like comical mystery or mysterious comedy that will challenge your perceptions while entertaining you, get along to this one.
Ian D Montfort stands onstage as the lights come up and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” blasts from the Q Loft speakers. Dressed like a new age primary school teacher, Montfort comes from the mind of British comedian Tom Binns. He recreates the sort of psychic entertainment that became immensely popular on TV about a decade ago. Think John Edwards of Criss Angel. It’s a setting overloaded with comedic potential.
Montfort speaks softly, calling everyone lovely at every opportunity. This delivery only makes his more acidic comebacks all the funnier. He barely conceals his hatred for skeptics and is quick to point when an audience member is at fault for a bad reading, or just wearing something rubbish.
This is part of the joke of course. Montfort alternates between genuinely impressive displays of “psychic” ability and those that miss the mark spectacularly. And despite the light jabs aimed at particular members in the audience, all participation is encouraged and rewarded.
Montfort does a great job of walking the line between outright mockery and seemingly real belief. Some of his tricks are hard to pick holes in, and the more unexplainable moments had the theatre stone silent in suspense. If you’re wondering though, a couple jokes here and there tend to let the comics true feelings on the matter shine through. Enough so, that both skeptics and true believers will find something to laugh at.
Ian D Montfort is a psychic medium, the alter-ego of Yorkshire comic Tom Binns. He's a spoof, a send-up of the genre, of the type of bandanna-clad, bangle-armed person who will tell you whatever you paid to hear.
Or is he? The golden-haired, effeminately-spoken comic told us we were all sweethearts, made us laugh with his gentle ridiculing of those who dabble in the mystical: "Predicting things is one of the hardest things you can do, particularly the future," and then proceeded to tell members of the audience things about themselves he couldn't possibly have known.
His knowledge of people's star signs was spookily accurate, as was his assertion that one audience member used a different name on her birth certificate (true) and the names of past teachers and pets. He also made some hilarious misreadings. Audience member: "I'm from Australia." Binns: "I'm feeling a Melbourne connection. Does this make sense?" Audience member: "No." Binns. "Well, that's why. There's no connection, that's coming through very strong."
While audience participation in some shows can be cringe-worthy, it was an integral part of this one. Even my friend, who made us arrive early and sit near the back so we wouldn't be pulled into the limelight, was keen for a prediction. And the guy who had identified himself as a sceptic at the beginning of the night - and whose death Binn's had jokingly predicted multiple times by the end - was raving about the show as we walked behind him down the street.
All in all, it was very entertaining - and you left not knowing quite what to believe. Much like your average psychic medium.
Lock up your Facebook settings and book your tickets under a pseudonym. Maybe then your secrets will be safe from this soft-spoken spoof of a spirit medium. Audience interaction acquires a certain edge when the comic reveals the names of ex boyfriends, and current pets. Was everyone else in the audience a plant? Had he googled us all? Even the night's loudest and proudest sceptic declared himself "unsettled". Targets on the night are gently mocked -- and sometimes not so gently -- but Binns keeps the conversation on track and on theme, and nobody need squirm too long. The latest alter-ego of Yorkshire comic Tom Binns can summon a laugh as swiftly as a dead celebrity, mocking the manipulative guesswork of psychics while exploiting the trade's best tricks.
OPEN your mind and prepare to be left bewildered and bemused with a sore side from laughing through this intimate show.
Psychic Ian D Montfort is the alter ego of UK comedian Tom Binns.
Montfort seamlessly switches between poking fun at the medium world and drawing gasps from the crowd with his amazing results and accurate insights.
“Don’t look surprised, I’m a spirit medium - that’s what I do,” he says confidently as he strokes his beaded necklace while standing bare foot on stage.
There is a lot of participation in the show, but Montfort’s endearing north English accent and gentle manner relaxes his victims into enjoying their role.
But his comic reactions to his failed attempts to connect with the spirit world are the sources of explosions of laughter in the audience.
Montfort’s performance was impressive and engaging. This one's definitely worth a look.