I have joked about it for years. In the never ending world of psychic exploitation and the greed that drives it, I have often wondered what if psychics and medium like Sylvia Browne actually went for laughs instead of the serious life and death mediumship game they play in today’s market? She’s never been right, so why not do a Phyllis Diller routine and make hay while the sun is still shining on her painted nails? Well, it looks like a couple of California dreamers have taken their cues from others like Maureen Hancock (who was once supposedly a stand-up comedienne) and decided that rather than risk blunders in their calling-back-the-dead cold readings, they are mixing their metaphors and going for laughs. “And no readers; once again, I’m not making this up.
“Meet Steve Freedman and Grace Divine, the dynamic psychic comedy duo. A combination of comedy and group psychic mediumship reading, they’ll have your group in stiches while tantalizing their curiosity.”
“As the first part of this fun and entertaining act, Steve will entertain the audience with fun and titillating stand-up comedy. For the last half of the show, Grace will perform a fun and entertaining “group reading” aimed at providing an enlivening and fun experience intermingled with funny anecdotes and jokes. For this part of the show, Grace relies on her innate psychic mediumship abilities and the collaboration of several audience members who wish to be read! This is a fun and exciting experience that usually thrills the audience.”
It “usually” thrills the audience? What about the other times it doesn’t thrill them? Like when they pretend to talk to a loved one killed in a head-on car crash?
Well, at least they are calling it “an act.’” I’ll give them credit for that. Splicing death and the hereafter with stand-up comedy seems ill advised at best no matter how good your timing might be. I have to hand to these two enterprising individuals. You have to be a lot more than just a versatile performer to satisfy the bereaved parent of a missing or murdered child with clever one-liners. Do you laugh or cry, or both when these two wacky fun people call forth your dead relatives? Wow. Where does the humor stop and the emotional manipulation begin?
I fondly remember Johnny Carson doing his schtick as “El Mouldo” the mysterious mentalist on “The Tonight Show” – it was hilarious. He would announce some mind-over-matter feat and always fail, although triumphantly shouting “El Mouldo has done it again!” Ed McMahon would take exception, noting El Mouldo’s failure. “Did I fail before?” asked El Mouldo. “Yes!,” replied McMahon, to which El Mouldo said, “Well, I’ve done it again!” And who can forget Carnak The Magnificent in which Carson played a psychic who clairvoyantly divined the answer to a question contained in a sealed envelope? ” Camelot … “Where do Arabians park their camels?”
Now that was funny. But that was a fictional character like Carson’s other roles: Floyd R. Turbo, Art Fern or Aunt Blabby. They were played for and all about laughs. What’s funny about talking to dead people? Doesn’t the very fact that you are funny somehow negate the serious nature of communication with dead souls? Or am I just being a fuddy-duddy stick in the mud? Am I missing something here?
“Comedy Psychics” are aping all the bad moves and failures that has made Theresa Caputo all the more endearing and taking us to the lowest level of absurdity. Don’t get me wrong; I love absurdest theater as much as the next guy and I’m probably not alone in wondering just how far these sorts of charades will go – and that fact alone likely sells some tickets. I’m interested in seeing how this couple bridges the huge gap between parody and reality for those grieving people who show up expecting a medium and not a clown show. Sure, for skeptics the difference may be minimal. When a mentalist makes a blunder it can make everything more believable and is often done on purpose to get that reaction – but using comedy to cover bad cold readings is really stretching that ploy to the max.
I was almost tempted to pop for a ticket when I saw the advert for the couple’s up-coming show at Anahiem’s infamous Learning Light Foundation:
I’m guessing Steve and Grace gently get their hooks in, then hand out a ton of “more spiritual” business cards at the end of their show, garnering a steady stream of future readings long after the laughter has died down. Bringing funniness and an off-hand manner has become an extension of the humbler, more approachable fuzzy sweater psychic pitch we have come to loath in people like Sylvia Browne, Caputo and Hancock. Hey, they are just folksy down home peeps like you and me, right? If they screw-up about where your missing kid’s decomposed body will be found, …hey that’s hilarious!
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) I’m already booked myself this Saturday night, so I wouldn’t be able to make it to Steve and Divine’s show. If you are in the L.A./Orange County area this weekend, (Brian?) why not check back with The Learning Light Foundation and see what up with this groovy new slant on young, hip spirituality.
We have crossed over into a Twilight Zone tipping point where anything goes. So what’s next? “Psychic Hollywood Squares” or “Psychic Survivor” with Van Praagh and John Edward battling to the death over who can best channel Huel Howser? I remember an episode of “The Larry King Show” that featuterd VanPraagh, John Edward and some other dyed blond psychic who did indeed fall all over each other arguing about who was right about various psychic things in a half hour battle that nearly became a treasured satire – but that humor was unintentional.
I almost forgot. At the very bottom of Steve and Divine’s page, in the smallest font imaginable, reads the following :
Disclaimer: The Psychic Comics perform for fun and entertainment purposes only. The psychic comics can not give professional advice of any kind including medical, legal or otherwise. Please seek the help of authorized parties for that. “Psychic Comics,” and everything related are copyright of Grace Divine 2010 All Rights Reserved
And on the Learning Light’s page for the show, the added warning.
“We thank you for not videotaping or recording as it is not allowed. However, the reading will be recorded for promotional purposes* and a video or taping will be available for purchase. Please order it after the show. Thank you.”
* Read as “heavily edited”