When entering a comedy hypnosis show, it is always difficult to predict what is going to happen. Sitting down, quietly watching, you can feel the curious anticipation build in your fellow audience members. Because really, there aren’t that many hypnotist shows out there – and when people tend to think about it, they associate hypnotism with public humiliation, mind control, and maniacal show-masters.
This show was not like that. For the most part.
Isaac Lomman, a trained hypnotherapist turned comedian, has a show that is quite engaging and – mostly – clean. A large batch of volunteers were taken from the audience and were then whittled down to a smaller group. This smaller group then underwent a series of different “suggestions”, for both the group as a whole and each individual. The group ones ranged from changing their body temperature through to making people feel they had lost their bellybuttons, whilst the individual tasks were just as varied (and equally funny). It’s a show that varies every night.
Just over an hour of raucous people doing silly things (and believing silly things) onstage. It’s a pretty good recipe for a fun show.
One of the most intriguing parts of the show was the actual act of hypnosis itself. Whilst not spilling the beans on everything, essentially the audience is given an opportunity to watch and see how hypnosis works – without the “magician” revealing his secrets fully. This helps bring the audience closer to the spectacle in many ways – giving an insight into the inner workings of people’s imaginations.
It wasn’t all fun and games though. Lomman accidently made a poor woman cry (the trance was that she smelled something awful), but very quickly lowered the intensity of the trance. In the beginning as well, there was a little bit of cruelty when the volunteers couldn’t drink water properly, and then Lomman drank some (all tongue in check, but it caused a little bit of distress among the volunteers). Some of the acts could be construed to be a little distressing to the volunteers at times (nothing permanent, but they looked genuinely uncomfortable).
That being said, these could just as easily be because people’s reactions are varied (the woman who answered her phone-shoe came up with some almost unsettling answers based on her personality), and up until this night there have been no similar incidents. And, considering that the routine changes every night, it is likely that the same problems wouldn’t be seen in the next show.
Lomman throughout the show would often refer to the concept of “trance”. An interesting (and slightly philosophical) note right at the beginning of the show was raised insofar as the concept of “trance” is not some unusual state that is forced upon individuals by a malicious (or benign) external source, but rather is a natural state our brains often do. He used the notion of letting your mind wander as you drive for long periods of time – those car trips where you have effectively been on automatic – as examples for when people go into “trance” in their everyday lives.
Trance is, essentially, a state of mind more than anything. And it is one of the more intellectual aspects to glean from this show – although it is something that could have been explored maybe a little further (a sentence or two on the concept and its uses might have been beneficial somewhere in the show), but there was enough information for those who were interested to investigate if they desired.
In conclusion, the show as very fun. Despite having some moments that were a little bit uncomfortable, the show itself was really good fun, and considering that every one of the volunteers seemed to have a very enjoyable time, it clearly wasn’t too bad for them either.
Comedy Hypnosis: Entranced! is on at the Athenaeum from the 23rd until the 17th of April, with no shows on Mondays. Show times and prices vary, so check out the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website for more details.