Crowds of students cheered as their peers struck poses, had wild basement parties, played hide and seek and gave birth under the spell of hypnotist Chris Jones last Friday Night in Tang Theater.
Jones is a Chicago-based hypnotist who performs at numerous high schools and colleges across the country.
With the music blasting and all three levels of the theater packed with excited students, Jones drew cheers and laughter from his funny, witty jokes.
But it was his hypnosis and the reactions from entranced students that distinguished the show from just another campus performance.
The crowd watched in amazement and disbelief as their friends on stage said and did things beyond what anyone thought they would do in public.
Jones began by giving a hypnosis test to the audience, during which he had them relax and listen to his voice to fall asleep.
From there, about fifteen students who were hypnotized were brought on stage.
In one of the first acts, Jones told the volunteers on stage that they were riding a scary roller coaster. They screamed wildly, hugged each other and even fell out of their seats.
In another act, the volunteers were told to strike and name sexy poses. Names like “Praying Mantis,” “Bob the Builder” and “Sexual Tiger,” drew huge laughs and cheers from the crowd.
Sophie Landay ’14 said, “My favorite part was ‘Easy Access’ by Matt Walker [’14], that was a good one.”
Jones was also able to hypnotize the student volunteers into believing they were in ridiculous scenarios.
In one act, Jones hypnotized the guys on stage into believing they were pregnant and giving birth with screams of pain, while the girls were medical doctors.
In another, the volunteers turned the clock back to when they were in preschool and played hide and seek throughout the entire theater.
Throughout the show audience members wandered around in hypnotic stupor, randomly appearing on stage and even falling to the ground in sleep.
“It was a good show, but it was very unstructured. I like to be a lot more organized than that, but people were acting crazy and people appeared out of nowhere. I loved the energy, but it was hard keeping control,” said Jones.
Drawing the show to a close with a raging finale, Jones hypnotized the volunteers into thinking he was the singer Drake and that Beyoncé would make an appearance. The hypnotized audience went wild as they acted as fans at a concert.
Yet the show ended abruptly as the students snapped out of the hypnosis with confused and blank looks.
Katia Lezine ’14 said, “It was really funny at the end because the students on stage had these facial reactions that showed that they had no idea what had just happened.”
Following the show, many students wondered how hypnosis could be performed.
“I thought it [the show] was really funny; the whole time I was trying to figure out whether or not they were faking it, and I still can’t really tell, but I liked it,” said Landay.
On his own experience with hypnosis, Jones said, “I went to grad school, saw a college show [Southern Illinois] and I thought it was all crap. I didn’t believe it. Then I saw friends doing stuff and thought that maybe I could learn. So I went to the hypnotist after the show and I asked him a lot of questions and he told me what books I should read… This is my first year of this job. That’s why I still love it.”
Jones continued, “I’ve done high school shows before, and this was a packed house, which was exciting. The students were really friendly. This is going to be a ten out of ten for the night.”