Derren Brown

Derren Brown, the popular psychological magician, and star of the Channel 4 shows Derren Brown: Mind Control and the recent four-part series, Derren Brown: Events, where on the first episode Brown predicted the national lottery numbers, thus securing him 3.1 million viewers, is currently in the midst of the second leg of his Enigma tour across the UK. Playing ninety-four dates, Brown’s goal with Enigma is to, “Create a theatrical event that shocks, surprises and defies explanation. The audience will be taken for a roller-coaster ride, and I hope it’s an experience that they will never forget.”

Brown and I recently sat down to discuss the tour as well as his exceedingly busy schedule.

Will Given: Derren, you’ve decided to take Enigma back on tour. Is it the same show or have you added anything?

Derren Brown: It is the same show – each one goes out across a couple of years. I normally take a week or so to tweak a few bits and pieces that we feel might need attention, but basically it is the same show. 

WG: For those readers who haven’t seen the show yet how would you describe it?

DB: Loads more fun than you’d expect if you’ve only seen the TV work. And all based on random audience participation. 

WG: You once said that you prefer performing live on stage to TV. Is that still the case?

DB: Hugely. When touring I get to travel around with my best friends, do a show I love and I’m confident people will enjoy, and have all the adrenalin that comes with performing. With TV there are constant enforced changes, restraints, and frustrations that sap much of the joy out of it. With the tour, once it’s rehearsed, I only have to go out and have the pleasure of doing the show, changing it as I like at my own pace. 

WG: What was the worst thing that happened on the last ENIGMA tour?

DB: I honestly can’t think of anything unpleasant that happened. My memories are all entirely glowing. Coops (my PA and stage manager) ran over my laptop on his skateboard and dented it – that might be it. But I didn’t really mind. 

WG: And the best?

DB: I really enjoyed filming the audience singing “Happy Birthday” to Coops for his 30th as a surprise, with him next to me on stage.

WG: You have a series of documentaries in the pipeline. What can you tell us about them?

DB: I’ve been spending some time with people making paranormal claims, and I’m going in with a genuine hope for the evidence to hold up. I spend my life fabricating supernatural power, so I’d love it all to be true. Of course extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, so at the same time I know what to look out for and not get fooled. It’s been a fascinating project, and more complex than I imagined. 

WG: Are you planning to write a new book?

DB: I’m currently editing a book that I’ve written for release in October 2010. It’s a kind of semi-autobiographical whimsy. 

WG: And how about @derrenbrown? Are you enjoying Twitter?

DB: Loving it! I held off for a while and now I adore it. It runs alongside the derrenbrown.co.uk/blog which is now rather massive, so it’s a pleasure to mix the personal tweets with the more informative blog entries.

WG: Lastly Derren, what do you do to relax?

DB: I like to show disturbing tricks to toddlers in queues when their parents aren’t looking.

You can check out Derren’s collection of portraits at www.derrenbrownart.com

For general info on Derren, including tour dates, go to www.derrenbrown.co.uk

William Given