America's Got Talent Sneak Peek: Can You Solve This Mentalist's Trick?

Mel B’s mind is read and thusly blown tonight on America’s Got Talent (NBC, 8/7c) — the question is how?

In this exclusive sneak peek, mentalist Oz Pearlman invites the AGT panelist to jot down two details about a memorable vacation, on a slip of paper that he promptly tears up. What’s more, Mel B maintains (and my own Googling seemingly confirms) that the trip she is thinking of is nothing the guy could have known about.

As such, what follows will astonish — though I have my own theory on how he pulled this off (which I will share in Comments if someone asks). But try to wrap your own bean around it first.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Kathryn says:

    I’d like to know anyone’s theories because I’ve got nothing.

  2. Mabel says:

    Matt, please share your theory. I haven’t a clue!

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      AGT Answer (turn computer upside-down to read)

      • Devon Orme says:

        That explains the date, but what about the name and place? The page was folded, had other stuff on the back, and the rips barely unfolded in the other guys hand. I’m pretty confident that he didn’t get it from there.

        • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

          I reckon that’s typical sleight-of-hand, that Howie ripped up a fake while the mentalist caught a peek at Mel’s original note. The true trick here was getting the info onto a sealed-up slip of paper.

          • zack says:

            Watch again, Matt. Oz ripped all the pieces up before he could have possibly gotten a “peek” then Howie continued whil Oz immediately shows his hands empty. No possibility for a peek. His head is turned away before he even starts ripping and until after it is in pieces. There was no “fake”.

          • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

            OK, Zack, simmah down. It was just a theory.

          • zack says:

            I’m not heated… just pointing out the possibility that your theory may incorrect. Sorry about the double post. I thought my first one didn’t go through. Looks like it was removed anyway. It’s an awesome trick/routine, either way you look at it!

      • Luis says:

        Nice theory – where do I get this font?

      • dman6015 says:

        Have to agree that the “note taking” part is key to the trick. Otherwise, why would he need to take notes?

  3. oz pearlman says:

    Be sure to tune in tonight and follow me on Twitter for a Q&A after the show! @OzTheMentalist

  4. Alex Voz says:

    He influences people to think those ways in color and visuals. Takes a whole lot of experience to cover that and even learn where to start. The most logical thing people can think of is what you said but logic always looses when emotions kick in.

    He is a professional and noone like him that can do this, respect the mans talent.

    Leave it at that, enjoy it, and be-wildered!

  5. ap says:

    what if the hosts are in on it?

  6. Joseph Rider says:

    This guy’s presentation is extremely personable and nicely paced. Wonderful entertainment! But look closely, as they edited out some of the tearing, during which he most probably does indeed peak. Otherwise, why have someone write it down? In thinking it through, why not just place the “prediction” in full view to begin with and have her just state the location and name without writing anything down? Even so, it is clever and well-done, not on the level of the best mentalist/magic performers, but still quite excellent. I hope he goes far in the competition.

    • Oz didn’t peek. He’s done that trick on a running show. Google it as the moderator won’t allow the link.

      • Joseph Rider says:

        Will, if he didn’t peak then electronics are involved, perhaps with the pen. Otherwise there is ZERO reason for Mel B to write the information. Either way, as I said, it is still excellent entertainment, and it got us all talking about him. And that’s good PR for his buzz.

        • Joseph Rider says:

          Oh, hey, I just watched the running show video you mentioned on YouTube. At exactly 25:26 is when he gets a look at the written name. He is looking right at it. Then at 25:52 you can actually see the business card he is writing on held behind the notepad. The camera angle reveals it. So it is definitely a peek, no electronics, no earphones. Anyway, I hope none of this spoils the fun, but the headline of this article challenges us to solve the “trick.”

          • zack says:

            The article does, but he doesn’t. He is a mentalist entertainer, not a challenge artist. Just saying…

          • Hmm .. I don’t know what video you saw. Those timecodes you posted don’t match the trick. You looked at the ‘ay-ya-yah’ short video? If he peeked everyone would have spotted that. And the name on the card was hard to read, you notice the host struggling to make it out. But yet magically Oz can read in an instant? It’s been fun looking at it again. He’s a charmer.

  7. Dirk Pershing says:

    Earphone communication. Cam shot from above got a peek?

  8. Roni says:

    Oh, just sit back and enjoy it, kids! Oz is a consummate professional. Why not just enjoy the mystery of it all!

  9. Rh says:

    I have seen this guy live and up close at parties. He is no joke, truly freaks people out. I have seen him correctly guess passwords to peoples phones, their best friends names etc.

  10. Rocco says:

    Here’s my theory: He researched Mel B.’s personal trips, discovered that she’s only had maybe 10 that stand out, and then he made up 10 stapled envelopes to place in different pockets (he probably has that many pockets in his jacket). He needed to know the year from her (which she said out loud), so that he knew which envelope to pull out. In order for this trick to work, he had to be pretty confident of knowing which person she would write down as accompanying her on each trip. So the research had to be the key to the whole thing.

    As for Heidi’s number, I believe that he didn’t actually write down a number with the Sharpie, but that he scratched the special paper (Howie was never permitted to actually touch it) with a thumbnail to produce “57”, after she said it out loud. This happened off camera. The “57” looked like the kind of “chicken scratches” that would result from that technique.

    • zack says:

      I don’t want to sound rude if you are serious, but are you just kidding?

      • Rocco says:

        No worries. I am serious. It would work, wouldn’t it?

        Or was what he did “magic”?

        It’s usually some pedestrian explanation like the one I gave.

        • zack says:

          I see. There is only 1 envelope and he can do this to someone he just met without even knowing their name. No research is necessary. Tricks similar this were being performed long before the resources were available to look into someone’s past (i.s. the internet). She is not in on it in any way, and neither is anyone else. He can (and does) walk into a party full of people he has never met and immediately perform this on a random person. It is not real magic, however. That is what is so great about magic tricks, illusions and mentalism. He is great at making something that is not as complicated as you guessed (but takes skill) look like it is completely impossible!
          I don’t want to say much more about your number theory except that while it is not correct, it is an interesting and observant guess.

          • Rocco says:

            Hey, I’m open-minded, and I’m doing my best to think about possible solutions. Apparently you have insights that you are choosing not to share, so OK. If he were to truly not know the name/place/year information until he could peek at the paper, and then was able to product a stapled paper that was opened up to reveal the same information, then each step of that process bears close scrutiny. Would he really base everything on copping a peek at the paper? What if he couldn’t see it? Why bother asking for the year to be said out loud by Mel B.? Did he really have time to “fill in the blanks”, then make a second paper look like the sealed one? Maybe, but I didn’t see it on screen.

            However, if he does this trick in other places, without having a researchable subject, then it must be as you say, because my theory wouldn’t work. However my theory would work in any situation where he could “force” an answer out of a maximum of, say, ten possible answers that he had previously researched.

            I’m always actually disappointed at tricks that rely on “peeking”.

          • zack says:

            One interesting thing about magic/mentalism is that there are often several methods that can be used to obtain the same or a similar result. Oz can and does use more than one to do similar things in different situations. He’s a pro! It’s not my place or practice to share information I have on how these things are done. I’m afraid of saying too much, at this point.
            Those are all good questions, however. I typically tell people that figuring out a trick is actually much more of a disappointment than being amazed by it. I only recommend learning the secrets if you are interested in the art itself and want to perform it. It’s like taking the red pill or the blue pill. Once you go down the rabbit hole and learn the methods, you start to loose that sense of mystery. You watch and see things differently. It is only fun again if you can perform it and provide that mystery to others. Learning the art takes commitment but those with enough interest can easily find avenues, these days. It’s MUCH easier than it was when I was a kid. It is cool to see people have any level of interest, however.

          • Rocco says:

            Good stuff, zack. I understand and appreciate what you are saying.

        • He didn’t peek. He ‘practiced’ that trick on a running show. Google ‘gottarun pearlman’ He does it better in that episode as the host random;y picks the traveler and the host struggles to read the poor penmanship. That’s a clue and other clues there as the camera never leaves Oz..

  11. Pedro says:

    Through social media or public record on flights and or car rentals.

    Right or wrong.

    Answer please

  12. brock says:

    watch his right elbow when nick stands in front of him, you can tell he is writing the number 327 on the board, all he had to do is write down 2 gumballs different from whatever mel b wrote down. as for the second part of the trick, i dont know?

    • Cayla says:

      Brock, you are 100% correct. If you freeze the shot when Nick grabs the board you can see OZ reach behind his back for the pen, then when Nick stands in front of him with the board, you can see Oz’s right elbow moving as he writes 327 on it. The board is actually NOT in the envelope BUT on the back of the envelope. It is then slid up the back of the envelope to appear as if it is being taken out of the envelope. OZ then again reaches behind his back to get rid of the pen. Nick is absolutely in on this. Mel B. is as well. The receipt by the way, if you freeze frame that, is a bogus receipt. There was no tax on it?? It just looked fake. The remainder of the prank I don’t know except to say that AGT has to be in on the set up.

  13. Bill says:

    trick in finals was simplest so far. Two separate Tricks. Colored card that matched chairs, simple he knew chair colors in what position and knew which envelope matched chair. Envelope numbers were irrelevant, he just gave the envelope that matched the chair.
    2nd trick filling in name in 4 blank spots on pre filled form in sealed envelope. The paper contains who they swore on was compression paper with blank for name. Using fingernail as compression tool scratched each name in sealed envelope.
    Slight of hand!

    • Zack says:

      The numbers are relevant. Of course he knew where the chairs are, but the judges not only picked their numbers but also picked where they were going to sit. He gave them a chance to change their spots and they did. The numbers are what prevented him from using your method. If the envelopes were not numbered, that could have worked, but of course it would have been too simple.

  14. Leslie says:

    I was disappointed that Oz did not win… he was a consummate performer with an amazing act … sure he will end up in Vegas now anyway.. only thing I find disappointing since he is SO GOOD is that it basically exposes the likes of John Edward and other “mediums” to be frauds when I so hoped they were — or at least one of them — was authentic :-(

    • Zack says:

      Very true, all the way. He should have won. Also, James Randy and Penn and Teller have been exposing them in place of Houdini, who did it long ago. People will still believe, but they use tricks just like mentalists do to “prove” their abilities. The difference between mediums and magicians/mentalists is that mentalists admit it is trickery.

  15. James says:

    I think the mentalist from AGT utilizes green screen technology to diisplay colors, words, names, or anything else as an illusion.