While his performances may conjure up such experiences as racing a Lamborghini down the street or walking a pet giraffe, Jason Christopher assures audiences that there is nothing to fear about his comedy hypnosis shows.
Those in the area will have the chance to see that for themselves at 8 p.m. Saturday, when the hypnotist gives a performance at Indiana Elks Lodge #931.
The all-ages event is a fundraiser for the Elks. Proceeds will go to several of the group’s charities, like its Home Service program and the Elks National Foundation.
The club signed on for a Christopher performance after receiving information from the hypnotist, who uses a business model where he splits the show’s proceeds with the hosting charity.
“We reviewed that material and thought this would be something that would be somewhat unique and that the people of Indiana would enjoy doing something a little bit unusual,” said Tony Sgro, an Elks member who is helping to organize the event.
“It’s something different,” he said.
It very well may be different, but it’s not something to be afraid of, according to Christopher, who noted that some may have trepidation about the effects of a hypnosis show’s mesmerizing powers.
While big-time Las Vegas hypnotists may put audience members on the spot in outlandish scenarios, he said, his “fun and funny” show only aims to please.
“I don’t embarrass any members of my audience,” he said. “I find we don’t have to do that to have a really good time.”
Through his show, Christopher said, he gives participants the chance to be the main event. Hilarity ensues when volunteers free their minds, he said.
To start off a performance, he gives a brief introduction to hypnosis and dispels some of the myths about it.
He then brings groups of volunteers on the stage and puts them through a relatively quick hypnosis process that takes about 10 minutes.
Once he has induced a hypnotic state, Christopher sets up scenarios by the power of suggestion and lets participants take it from there.
“I’m more of a conduit,” he said. “My volunteers are truly the stars of the show.”
As the participants progress through the scenarios, it’s their responses — based on whatever their hypnotized minds dream up — that bring on the laughs.
While he credits the subconscious with providing the entertainment, the situations he puts into the participants’ minds clearly make for a fun framework.
Among situations he’s set up at past performances are a body building contest with a $1.5 million prize, a grade-school classroom and even one where Martians have landed and a translator is needed.
Others are more straightforward, such as a symphony, a funny movie and a vacation.
The surprises are often found in the responses. Sometimes, Christopher said, it’s the most reserved people who, under the power of hypnosis, give the most creative responses.
A hypnotized person enters a subconscious state and then relies upon what Christopher calls “trance logic.”
“They will actually see what I’m suggesting to them,” he said.
That doesn’t mean, however, that they are completely suggestible, as movie portrayals of hypnosis would lead one to believe.
“Their mind is set up to only take the suggestions they are comfortable with,” he said. “But at the same time, their mind is setting up the suggestions as reality.”
He compares being hypnotized to the state of mind right before one falls into REM sleep at night and again, when waking from dreams. Milder forms of a hypnotic state are not unlike when a person is driving and almost misses their exit because they are lost in thought, he said.
Those at the Elks are looking forward to Christopher’s event. Sgro said that, while the organization may have brought in a hypnotist before, it hasn’t been for a long time.
“I think people will enjoy it,” he said. “He has a long background in doing this, and I get the impression in talking to him that he’s worked hard to put together a show that people will like.”
Christopher, who splits his time between Bethel Park and Clermont, Fla., is certified as a hypnotist through the Arizona-based Stage Hypnosis Center.
In addition to entertaining audiences, the magician-turned hypnotist also performs therapeutic hypnosis, mainly through CDs available at his website or phone consultations.
While the two realms never meet on stage, Christopher said his comedy shows endeavor to assist others, and by sharing more than laughs.
“Sometimes, I just like coming out and doing the fundraisers a whole lot more, because it helps everybody,” he said.
“It helps me, it helps the community and more importantly, it helps the people that are hosting it.”