You wouldn’t think that hypnosis and improvisation are a good fit.
Colin Mochrie and Asad Mecci have meshed the two together, not only to form a portmanteau, but also to form their show HYPROV — Improv under Hypnosis.
The duo will bring their show to The Reg Lenna Center for The Arts, 116 E. Third St., March 18, at 7:30 p.m.
Mecci recalled how he got interested in hypnosis. Because he studied martial arts, meditation, visualization, and self-hypnosis were not foreign concepts to him, so during Mecci’s first year of college at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, his friend, Ron, traveled to Hawaii and got a very bad sun burn. Fortunately, Ron was traveling with his father, and his father’s friend who was a dentist. The dentist happened to use hypnosis in his practice for painless dentistry.
“So he (the dentist) hypnotized my friend, Ron, to take away the itch and the irritation associated with the sunburn. That’s what go me fascinated with hypnosis,” Mecci said.
From there, Mecci said, in college he spent a lot of time in the psychology section in the library at McMaster University. He then studied under Mike Mandel, and after was certified under the National Guild of Hypnotists. From there, Mecci started performing on the college circuit, cruise ships, corporate shows, arts theaters, and finally forming HYPROV.
“It’s easy to hypnotize somebody. Once you hypnotize them, getting them to do things while they are hypnotized, that’s where it becomes more difficult,” Mecci said.
The hypnotist said observation is important because people change moment to moment, so looking for the correct changes in a person’s physiology can determine where that person is during their hypnotic trance, and then determining if a person will carry out any suggestions the hypnotist gives.
“That comes from years of training and performing, so I know that if I give this suggestion, they will carry out my suggestion without hesitation (and) without question,” Mecci said.
There are three types of trance states: light, medium, and deep. Mecci said people will not do anything against their morals, ethics, or cultural values when they are hypnotized. “I can make people do things that they normally wouldn’t do, when they are hypnotized on stage, but I can’t make people do things that they don’t want to do,” Mecci said.
Meccia added that people understand that when they are chosen to participate in a show, that they know to fully immerse themselves in the content. He said that when someone is fully immersed, it’s like watching a movie and getting so entranced with what you are watching that you are moved to a physicological response like crying if the movie makes you sad.
Mochrie said that once the participants are chosen, then an improv troupe is formed, and “I’m improvising with these people.”
The 90-minute show combines hypnosis and improv — two art forms that have mystified and entertained fans, skeptics and everyone in between worldwide-for a totally unique comedy experience. The evening begins with Mecci welcoming 20 volunteers on stage to be hypnotized. The most receptive to hypnosis then join Mochrie to improvise the rest of the show, while hypnotized. In the hands of two experts — and solely crafted from the volunteers’ uninhibited, unconscious minds — each show is an entirely original and completely unforgettable theatrical experience.
“When Colin comes on stage, the show is absolutely bananas,” Mecci said.
HYPROV was created in 2016 at Toronto’s Second City. After working it out on stage, they took the show on the road to Just for Laughs London, Just for Laughs Montreal and the Edinburgh Fringe where it was received with rave reviews in 2016 and 2017. The duo set out on a 60-city tour from 2019-2022, which continues across Canada and the U.S. in 2023-2024.
“He (Mecci) contacted me through my website. We had coffee. I thought this was insane. Let’s do it,” Mochrie said.
Mochrie said he has so much fun on stage because he has no idea what is going to transpire with the participants — hypnotized improvisers as Mochrie refers to them. “They are reacting to the moment. They don’t have a game plan. … They are immediately reacting to everything, which makes it fun for me. I have no idea what’s going to happen, what they’re going to say, so it keeps me on my toes, too” Mochrie said.
Mochrie added that the show makes him a better improviser because they (hypnotized imrovisers) give him so much material to with.
“We don’t use plans, no pre-arrangement — just random volunteers from the audience, who come up on stage, and for one night only, become hypnovisers (hypnotized improvisers), and they are keeping up with Colin Mochrie. It (the show) is astonishing to watch,” Mecci said.
HYPROV — Improv Under Hypnosis is based on the Off-Broadway show, which was co-created by Mochrie, Mecci and Jeff Andrews. Directed by Stan Zimmerman, executive produced by Cody Lassen, produced by Sarah Power, and co-produced by Chaz Naor, Oui BeLeaf (NHR), Jorn Weisbrodt, Joan Tosoni, M.J. Power International Inc, Salah Bachir, Brad Blume, Matteo Golini, Esther Kim, Lorena Zvi Shiff, Marc Stern Family, Toufik Sarwa, The Descourouez Group, MKFD; in association with Bilo Investments LLC, Nancy Donohue, Kors Le Pere Theatricals, David Lipowicz, The Mecci Family, and Zorbas Whittle Inc.
For more information go online to reglenna.com or call the Box Office at 716-484-7070. The Reg Lenna Center for The Arts’ programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.
“I love plays. I love musicals, but you’ll never see anything like HYPROV,” Mecci said. “It’s wholly unique.”