Hypnosis often falls under the same scrutiny as other disputable subjects, such as voodoo and mind reading. But for many non-believers, the hypnosis show in the May Room on Jan. 14 put an end to this disbelief.
Co-hosted by the 2012 Class Council and the Campus Activities Board, the event was filled to maximum capacity, with some spectators even lining the back wall due to lack of seating.
The hypnotist in the spotlight was St. Louis, Mo. native John McVicar, better known by his stage name, McVicar the Trickster. McVicar is a man of multiple trades. In addition to the comedy hypnosis spiel that he showcased at UR, he is also a magician and a certified hypnotherapist who uses his ability to help people overcome obstacles such as smoking, weight loss, stress and phobias.
McVicar began his show by shouting out for volunteers, and, rather than waiting for his audience to patiently raise their hands and wait to be chosen, he let students run up and grab a seat as fast as they could.
A few students were unfortunately too slow to merit a place in the show, and, just like in musical chairs, were denied a seat. Ultimately, about two-dozen students were fortunate enough to partake in the interesting experience first hand.
“I’ve never been hypnotized before, I was just curious and wanted to see what it felt like to be hypnotized,” freshman Yuji Wakimoto said.
Once the volunteers were situated in their chairs, McVicar’s show began with soft, meditative music that slowly grew louder, and louder, wafting its way around the room. In addition to the volunteers participating on stage, he also invited audience members themselves to follow along with the hypnosis more privately from their chairs.
As the on-stage volunteers began to be affected by what seemed like a sudden wave of sleep, various audience members’ heads unexpectedly also began to loll, including a boy sitting two seats away from me. His friends were quick to take pictures of him on their phones — pictures that I’m sure are now present on Facebook for all to see.
McVicar made it clear that the only people he would be able to hypnotize would be those who wanted to be hypnotized.
“Don’t expect me to be able to hypnotize you if you don’t want to be hypnotized, because I can’t,” McVicar said, “I’ll tell you that right now.”
By saying this, he effectively protected himself from people who might be up there trying to prove that hypnosis is fake and doesn’t work.
Before the action of the show actually began, McVicar began to weed out some of the people he could plainly tell weren’t being affected by the hypnosis, asking them to return to their seats in the audience. Additionally, some unconvinced volunteers elected to walk off the stage themselves without even being asked.
I’m sure there were a few people who passed under the Trickster’s radar and made it successfully through the entirety of the show on pure wit and convincing acting, but for the most part it seemed as though the participants were honestly hypnotized.
While under hypnosis, participants animatedly ballroom danced with each other, thought their friends in the audience were wild animals, and fanned themselves when they though the room became extremely hot.
McVicar continuously related the effects of hypnosis to the first stage of sleep, and told the participants that after being awoken from their hypnosis, they would feel as energized as though they had just received a full night’s sleep.
“I felt surprisingly refreshed like the hypnotist told us,” Wakimoto said. “Considering I had a track meet the next day, that was a great bonus to a hilarious show.”
Sklar is a member of the class of 2014.