All that could be heard along Zhapu Lu, Shanghai on March 26 2016 was the roaring laughter consuming the quaint and cosy Pearl Theatre.
The Hypno Comedy Show, produced and hosted by Steven NanaWusu proved once again to be a phenomenal success, captivating the crowd with feats of … you guessed it, hypnosis.
I’ll hold my hands up here and say I was a tad sceptical heading in. I’ve never much believed in the notion of hypnosis. Instead preferring to believe hypnosis was subtle mind tricks designed to lead susceptible people astray, causing them to do all kinds of outlandish things based on the whims of the hypnotist.
But having seen a group of 15 whittled down to around 9 or 10 through a series of increasingly hilarious tests, my interest really began to peak. It was clearly evident to see some of the brave volunteers slipping into a completely relaxed state of ‘trance’ faster than others, leaving heaps of bodies strewn across each other, some in what could only be described as slightly awkward positions, much to the giggling delight of the audience. Luckily the show avoided Hollywood style clichés, there were no stopwatches dangling in the face of those being hypnotised and no one at any point was told they were feeling exceptionally sleepy.
Having set about the stage providing his instructions to the willing participants, Steven let them loose, once or twice on the unsuspecting audience. The antics I beheld, along with the wailing crowd, included but weren’t limited to: a woman seeking out Viagra users through an innate sixth sense, blowing a whistle whenever she detected one (with sublime results), dance offs, cat-walk competitions, belt snakes and a man who, no matter how thirsty he became, was rendered unable to drink his water, owing to the fact he couldn’t find his own mouth.
It was a remarkable spectacle continually enhanced by Steven’s own sense of showmanship. Intuitively he assigned different members of his tranced-up performers varying and imaginative attributes, feelings or for lack of a better word states. He suggested that every time he touched one woman, for example, she would find him utterly repulsive, whilst simultaneously telling another there wasn’t a man alive more beautiful him. What we then privy was one woman shuddering and fleeing from him, completely and utterly unsure why as she continually apologised for her repulsion, as another foolishly giggled and smiled uncontrollably as she made subtle sexual passes. The continued combination of mystifying manoeuvres constantly sent ripples of intense laughter throughout a thoroughly entertained gathering of sceptics and believers alike. In fact it was later found that one of the night’s volunteers had, until they had succumb to hypnotism on stage, been a disbeliever of the practice.
One main reservation for many is the issue of safety, one that Steven candidly addressed. Each and every person who had slipped into a state of ‘trance’ could only do so willingly. This state is somewhat akin to a dream, meaning no one could give themselves over to this frame of mind and never wake up, as a lot of people generally fear. As the hypnotist explained, no one can ever trap themselves inside one of their own dreams, the mind simply won’t allow it. Equally at the end of the show, it was obvious everyone who had jumped at the opportunity to be hypnotised had emerged completely unscathed, except perhaps for when the memory of what they had done in front of a room of complete strangers came flooding back to them all at once. Their facial expressions alone were priceless.
But being a comedy show, it’s easy to imagine any thoughts of danger or safety soon escaped the minds of the audience as their eyes eager devoured the participants misadventures unfolding before them up on that stage.
Having witnessed my first Comedy Hypnosis Show I can and do whole-heartedly endorse it. Although my verdict is still out on whether I believe or not. What’s more I suggest you open a new tab right now and start hunting for your nearest show, it’s certainly an experience worth living.
As for those residing in Shanghai, stay tuned. As soon as I know when and where this man’s next show is, so will you! I might even see you there.