We've been hypnotized and we've been to comedy shows, but we've never experienced both at one time. That's what Flip Orley, comic hypnotist, is all about.
Orley, who tours packed -- like sold-out packed -- clubs and other venues (including a corporate event here and there), takes a different approach to his act than one might expect: He doesn't embarrass his volunteers.
No stripping, no professing deepest secrets. Just suggestions to the brain that result in some seriously funny moments. Orley's bio states that he wants the audience and volunteers to laugh with each other, so there's a lot less reason to be nervous about attending one of his shows than even one of a more biting, cynical straightforward comic.
And there's absolutely no reason to be nervous when it comes to asking Orley questions. After we caught up with him via email, in anticipation of his Addison Improv shows starting tomorrow, he answered our silliness -- and our teasing of his elementary school chick-magnetism -- with ease ... and presumably without getting veeeeeerry sleeeeeepy.
As a comic hypnotist, you definitely wield some power. Are people surprised by the fact that you don't aim to embarrass your audience? How do they respond to the news that no one will be wetting themselves by show's end? Once I have been to the same club a number of times, the audience usually knows what to expect. However, when I am new to a club the audience really does come in expecting the mean hypnotist that does suggestions like; "Bark like a dog, squeel like a pig, dance around like an idiot, have a sexual encounter, etc."
The audience that expects the mean hypnotist usually doesn't believe me when I tell them I am not going to be a jerk. The people who have no intention of volunteering are usually pretty unhappy with me, since they typically come to watch their friends look like chickens.
You started out because of a book that claimed hypnosis could help you get dates. The premise of that book is totally creepy, but the concept that hypnosis helps you find inner strength and confidence is totally valid. With what sort of cases were you most successful during your time as a clinical hypnotist? Let's be clear, I got that first book when i was in elementary school and all I wanted to do was ask a girl to a dance. The premise of the book may have been creepy, but my thoughts were pretty tame -- you might even say almost pure.
I have been fortunate enough to help people with a number of things including improved memory, reducing test tension, natural child birth, pain free dentistry, overcoming stage fright, weight control, smoking cesastion, stress management and improved sleep.
In the days before smoking bans, did you ever want to hypnotize the entire comedy club and get them to ditch the cigarettes? When smoking was common in public buildings I would frequently want to do mass hypnosis on the crowd to become non-smokers (at least for the next couple of hours). Then I would always remember that I don't have any powers and the addictive nature of cigarettes was going to be greater than any suggestion I could possibly give.
Do comic hypnotists get hecklers, too? Comic hypnotists can definitely get hecklers. I have had more than my fair share over the years. One of my favorite heckler moments happened in Shreveport, LA. I was introduced, and as soon as I grabbed the microphone a woman yelled out, "You look like my proctologist." I had about 5 minutes of fun with that one before she ended up leaving the club in tears.
"Two hours of FUN and an experience they will never forget." If I were called up as a volunteer, would I remember everything that happened or would there be things I'd never expect my friends to tell me later? I just invite people to the stage, as opposed to calling on them to volunteer. As the show is ending, I always give the suggestion for the volunteers to remember everything that happened. I think it's important for them to have fun during the show and to remember everything once it is over. Even so, occasionally a volunteer will stay a bit hazy on some of the details.
People say they love their work, but what specific thing about touring, comedy and hypnotism really keeps you doing it, city after city? I have no other skills.
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Also, every show is different. I am just as surprised by the responses of the volunteers as the audience. I have always enjoyed traveling, which has given me the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy so much of our country. It's wonderful to have a job where people come out to have fun and to be able to help provide a night of entertainment. Although most people come out to have some laughs, there are some people who leave my show with a new appreciation for the power of their mind. In many cases people have improved some aspect of their life through experiences at my show.
One last thing: Your press materials boast "Sleep has never been so funny." What is the funniest dream you've ever had? My funniest dream, hmmm??? I guess, recently one of my funniest dreams had me taking hypnosis to a whole new level. I was able to "glamor" people in a pointy tooth supernatural way.