I’m a gigantic fan of Derren Brown, as he is one of the most interesting and captivating performers I’ve ever seen. He’s a magician, to say the least, but he blends psychology, persuasion, hypnosis, showmanship, misdirection, and more into his performances. He’s unlike any performer you’ll ever see, and it’s incredible what he can do.
This is a list of my 10 favorite Derren Brown performances. Some are extremely short, some are lot longer. They vary in terms of being a full documentary/special all the way to doing street performances. This list is in no particular order, and I definitely suggest watching them all.
Important Point: None of these clips are staged, and there are no actors or stooges used in his show. In his own words, “[I fuse] magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship. I achieve all the results you’ll see here through a varied mixture of those techniques.”
Side Note: As a DJ/Music Producer, I produced a song about Derren Brown that encapsulates not only his principal theme, but emulates the mysterious yet energetic nature of his performances. Listen to it below!
1. Pay With Paper
This clip, which is one of his most popular videos, is where he buys items in New York using just pieces of paper.
2. Russian Scam
Here Derren tries to convince people to give them everything they have: Wallet, Keys, Phone, and more, just by using some persuasive techniques and suggestion.
3. Close Up Coins
Blending some close up tricks along with some psychology, this clip is where he tries to fake someone out by grabbing a coin out of their hands.
4. The Birthday
In this clip he asks someone to write down a birthday present, and then tries to convince them that they actually wrote down something else. The cool part about this one is that, unlike most of the other clips on this list, he explains at the end how he does it.
5. Word Association
This is the classic game of word association, where someone says as word and you say the first word that comes to mind. Derren tries to predict what this psychologist will say, based off the random words he gives him. What I like about this clip is that Derren gets it wrong a couple times, and I like how he didn’t edit that out.
6. Memorizing Cards
This clip isn’t really a “trick,” as it’s more of a demonstration of Derren’s memory. He’s able to memorize a deck of cards incredibly fast, and in this video, he showcases the unique way he can do it.
7. Could You Kill a Kitten?
While the title and idea is a bit bizarre, the psychology and suggestion behind this video is really interesting. Note: No cats are harmed in this video, no need to worry
8. Card Trick (with Stephen Fry)
In this awesome magic performance, Derren does a really cleaver card trick with the legendary Stephen Fry.
9. Drunk Hypnosis
Derren utilizes his ability in hypnosis and suggestion in this clip, as he makes someone drunk without them ever having a drink
10. The Assassin
Although this list isn’t in any particular order, this one is probably my favorite of all time. In this special, which is roughly 45 minutes long, he tests out a very interesting theory: Is it possible to manipulate a person, without them knowing, to kill another person? Unlike the other videos on this list, which are more live, this is filmed in more documentary format.