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In your Fatal Distraction show, you’re a mind reader who can’t read minds ...

I love magic but it started to bore me – no one is really magic. So I say, ‘I can’t read minds’, but then do things that make the audience’s belief systems collapse around them. And I like the idea [of people thinking] after all the years of evolution maybe this is the guy who can do this! 

So the show’s part mind reading, part stand-up and part theatre ...

[Fatal Distraction] is my fifth show and I wanted to do something totally different – it is a piece of theatre and has a love story, too. People are expecting to go, ‘Oh my god, how did he do that?’ but it also hits them emotionally at points.

It was inspired by [the movie] (500) Days Of Summer and books Essays In Love and One Day. It was about finding a story to tell and then letting the audience control that narrative with their thoughts, and putting in these amazing tricks which no one has done before – there is a trick that took me five years to come up with!

Which is...

I can’t tell you, I will say it is my favourite bit in the show, but also the smallest. It involves a piece of newspaper and is a proper magic trick! 

Does the show change much with all of this audience involvement?

Every night is different as the audience’s response will affect some of the things I do. And there is a whole section where I do things that people in the audience would like to see me do. I sit out in the audience as they think of something they’d like me to do, then I perform it. 

What odd things have they thought up?

Last year Jonathan Ross thought he wanted me to sit on his shoulders like a giant baby, so I did. Then he stood up and walked me back on stage. As he did that I thought, ‘He is a lot taller than I realised.’ I had never been so tall in all my life – I felt like Stephen Merchant!

Do you sometimes find the audience want to try to outsmart you?

Fortunately, no one has even been a particular arse to me. I like it when people are challenging you as I can predict what they’re going to do. The hardest thing is when they try to be nice and help you, giving you a nod when they’re thinking of the right thing, because that throws me off. 

How do audiences react?

People are genuinely freaked out on stage – I have had people vomit and faint before, although it was a very hot day on that occasion. The main thing I do is something that people haven’t seen before. And after the show I go outside and give out ‘I love Cox’ badges.


Interview - Chris Cox: The mind reader on turning down Dannii Minogue and making the audience faint
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