“He’s purple and he told me to shut up!”, yelled Jenna McGrath, fully convinced that a Barney doll had just insulted her. This statement was just one of the many entertaining exclamations made by student volunteers onstage on Thursday, Feb. 7 at Dale K’s Comedy Hypnosis Show. The show, which took place at the Emile K. Asplundh Concert Hall, was hosted by the Student Activities Council, and was free with student ID.
Before beginning his show, Dale K went over background information to bring the audience up to speed with what would be occurring during the performance. After informing everyone that he hypnotizes approximately 100,000 people each year, he defined the feeling of hypnosis to be “your imagination working at a higher level.” He also explained the effects of being hypnotized and who should or should not volunteer. After selecting around twenty volunteers, the hypnosis process began.
Over the course of the performance, Dale used small objects (normally with some sort of catching feature) to center the focus of the volunteers in order to hypnotize them further. The first of these was a small, hockey-puck like disc, which had a circular formation of bright green lights. After falling into their initial trance, participants were made to believe they were holding a heavy bag of sand in one hand, and a bunch of helium balloons in the other, causing both arms to flail in opposite directions. This was one of the first “tests” Dale performed throughout the night to see who was “feeling” the hypnosis more, and through these he made “cuts,” sending people back to their seats. After the first few stunts it was easy for the audience to see who would be among the best “performers”, based on how extravagant a certain reaction was or the strength of an expression in one’s face after being told part of a new task.
Surely all of the volunteers were very entertaining, but there were a few participants and tasks that were particularly well-received by the audience. The irate, Irish step-dancing Brendan Larkin (excuse me, Seamus Finnigan), and Art, one of the world’s first men to take on childbirth, was two of the many scenarios in which the audience responded uproariously. But who can forget Chris Whitaker, who after not only delivering his own son (Chris Jr.) and playing with and protecting him throughout the show, also transformed into a kangaroo, and “fed” his young by putting slices of bread in his “pouch”, which as seen from the audience, was the front of his jeans?
Through all of the hilarity, Dale was very careful to ensure the safety of the participants. Throughout scenarios that may have provoked violence, he specified repeatedly to volunteers that “you will not leave your chair”, and “you will not touch anyone”. He also took an extra precaution and had all those involved notice their surroundings and what could be potentionally dangerous (the edge of the stage, for example). Along with safety for the participants, Dale also took a fresh approach towards the acts that he created, keeping the content mostly PG-13, with some added bits suited for a college level.
When lifting the hypnosis, Dale explained to the audience that the volunteers would not remember anything they had done onstage until leaving the room. He also made a specific addition: Chris (with bread still in pants), wouldn’t feel or remember how the bread came to be at its current location until leaving the building.
After thanking the audience for their support, Dale left the stage, leaving the volunteers to make their way back to their seats. As groups, including participants, exited the concert hall, shouts and laughter could be heard over sudden realization of their actions. After the general shock and disbelief had passed, the building was quickly evacuted with most of the crowed joining the massive throng of people following Chris Whitaker as he made his way outdoors.
Tara Tanzos is a first-year student majoring in elementary education. She can be reached at TT649875@wcupa.edu.