Mind reader takes Rat crowd by surprise, impresses students with sixth sense

Robert Channing invited students up to the Rat stage on Nov. 23 to participate in a series of confounding demonstrations.  (Abby Hocking / Photo Assistant)
Robert Channing invited students up to the Rat stage on Nov. 23 to participate in a series of confounding demonstrations. (Abby Hocking / Photo Assistant)

There was no shortage of hype for Robert Channing’s appearance at the College last Monday, Nov. 23.

Posters adorning the walls of just about every building advertised the “Night of Enchantment,” the College Union Board-sponsored event featuring the world-famous mind reader. White type leapt from a swirling dark blue background: “Witness the impossible … Watch your friends squirm with anticipation and scream with sheer thrill as your mind is read and your future is foretold.”

As if the poster itself could predict the future, that’s what happened.

Channing, introduced to a packed Rathskeller as “the man who knows what you’re thinking,” began his show by assuring the audience that anyone who could prove he was using any form of assistance would receive a $100,000 reward. Knowing he had successfully enticed the cash-strapped College students comprising the audience, he immediately set to work proving no one would receive it.

Channing began his performance with several basic activities to acclimate the audience to the novelty of a mentalist show.

He asked all men to stand up and choose numbers between one and 100 — then rattled off the numbers, to bewildered nods, as if reading from a shopping list.

He called two students up to the stage, a tactic he would employ throughout the night, and asked them to flip to a random page in two lengthy books he provided, pick out a word and not show him. He identified the words within 30 seconds and asked the students to confirm.

“Extended?” he asked the first student to a nervous titter of assent.

“Curiously?” he asked the second. Marisa Gonzalez, junior marketing major, laughed and nodded.

The games had more than sufficiently piqued the crowd’s interest, but Channing had only just begun.

The mentalist called up two members of the audience and asked them to blindfold him. Armed with seven pieces of duct tape, two half-dollars and a double-thick cloth napkin, all provided by Channing, the two students rendered him blind for the next activity, in which he claimed to tap into his “sixth sense” — something more easily accomplished, he said, when another sense is closed off.

He sent his two accomplices into the audience to obtain three items — “the wackier the better,” Channing said — from various students. Once they returned with a small arsenal of items, he correctly identified a ketchup bottle, a woman’s “kitty cat” watch, and a shoe — “a moccasin, from a female’s … right foot? Is that correct?”

Nat Sowinski, freshman international studies major missing a right shoe, called out to confirm Channing’s suspicion.

For what would be the longest activity of the night, Channing asked students to write down a question as well as some other identifying information — nickname, a number and a funny moment in their lives. Without taking off the blindfold, he would draw a card, identify a student based on one of these pieces of information and answer their question.

The results dropped every jaw in the audience. Spellbound, students watched as Channing drew a card, and, though he could see nothing, called out to them.

“Allie Cat?” he said after drawing a card. “You had a dream you were reading a book — about how to pee?”

Allie Axel, junior sociology major, stood to explain her funniest moment with a laugh.

Channing concluded the show by unveiling his prediction for the show, made prior to his appearance. He asked four students to stand up and asked each to name one facet of their dream vacation — the date, the location, the budget, and the person they’d want to accompany them. Students told him they’d want to spend $5,000.23 on a vacation to Antigua on June 15, 2013, with Greg.

Presenting a double-sealed envelope marked “Prediction,” Channing had a student open it to reveal his prediction. A gasp ran through the audience as the student read “5,000.23. Antigua. June 15, 2013. Greg.”

Channing’s “Night of Enchantment” left students baffled, captivated and with the feeling they had truly witnessed something clairvoyant.

“I thought it was awesome,” Axel said. “I love magic.”