By Katie Webb, Assistant Entertainment Editor
For those that are skeptical about whether hypnotism actually works, rest assured you're not alone in your doubts. When Kevin Hurley, a comedy hypnotist and the headliner of the night's entertainment, took the stage Friday the 4th at Hofstra USA the mood of the audience was excited if not a bit apprehensive.
Opening for Hurley was Sigma' Cappella with an amazing performance as always and HaHa Hofstra with a few disturbing if not cringe worthy lead in jokes. After the opening acts the audience was told by the hypnotist, as the eighteen volunteers rushed the stage to be put into a trance, they only needed to be open to the experience to make it work.
"The induction" or beginning of the hypnotism as Hurley called it, is the most crucial part. The volunteers were seated on the stage in a large semi-circle, and told above all to relax and let go of all anxiety and frustration. They were also told to, "say hi to the person next to you, because this is about to become a cuddle fest." Although his tone was mocking, his words couldn't have been truer, as one by one everyone on stage passed out on top of each other.
"This is where the real fun begins," Hurley said to the audience with a slightly maniacal edge and a smirk. With a few persuasive words and the light touch of his finger, Hurley could convince the volunteers to do, say, and believe almost anything. The real trick was spotting those who were actually in a trance and those who were trying to fool the professional.
After kicking three girls off the stage for poor acting, the rest of the volunteers were teased if not slightly tormented with a parade of embarrassing actions. From flying jet planes to a man giving birth to getting one girl to believe she had a lust for band aids, the students were convinced of many silly scenarios. At one point the hypnotist told them they all had found the cutest pets on earth, and when he asked them what they were one boy claimed he had a white tiger named Roy from Europe that he hugged and petted adoringly. Another volunteer, Molly Sternin remembered having a baby unicorn in her lap, and few other things after the show except the epic dance that took place. A look of marvel and profuse giggling followed her recollection of dancing, and the audience couldn't stop laughing either.
For the final illusion the hypnotist convinced some of the students, others could be seen cracking up and completely coherent in the back of the stage, that they were all participants in the finals of dancing with the starts Hofstra edition. As anyone who has ever been to a bar off campus can tell you, if there is one thing Hofstra students can do it's over the top, sexual, strange dancing they won't remember in the morning.
The men were greatly outnumbered by the women. As the guys started getting into the loud music that was pumped into the room the girls went from throwing their clothes around to fiercely fighting over the guys. The hypnotist quickly began running around tapping people on the heads to make them pass out, signifying they had lost the dance competition, so that an all out brawl would not ensue on stage.
Rita McCann, one of the most vivacious dancers and charismatic volunteers of the night, said after she walked dizzily off the stage with a perplexed look on her face, "I think I remember everything, but I don't know. I don't know."
When Hurley awarded the last man standing his title of best dancer he also awarded him the last prank of the night. Whispering to the befuddled boy that the hottest girl he had ever seen had just walked in, addressing what the audience could see was a microphone stand with a cloth on it, he encouraged him to dance with "her." The poor blinded boy did so hilariously, inciting a riot of cheering in the audience, as he threw off the cloth and began unbuttoning his shirt. Hurley advised him, "hit her with your signature pick up line," but instead the boy began making out with the mic on stage. As the crowd roared Hurley finally mercifully put the volunteer to sleep.
While hypnosis is arguable a fake experience only meant for a few laughs, just as many people who were playing along seemed to be completely out of it. Hurley explained that while hypnosis doesn't work on everyone, especially those who aren't open to it, for those it works on it can be a mind bending experience. Some people experience hypnotic amnesia and will not remember anything or parts of what happened like having a blackout while others remember everything hazily, but could not say no to the power of persuasion.
Whether or not you believe in hypnotism now is up to you, perhaps the only way to prove it once and for all is to be brave enough to jump up on stage like the others. Neil Schloth summed up his experience saying, "I remembered parts of what was happening, but it's almost like trying to remember a dream."