One-part improvisational comic, five-parts improvised comics — the live “Hyprov” show comes to Guelph Jan. 30, 2020.
The event features one of the best-known performers in his field. A man renowned for his ability to get people out of their shells. Someone who can turn the most inexperienced performer into a comedic mastermind — hypnotist Asad Mecci.
Oh, and Colin Mochrie will be there, too.
But the legendary comedian won’t be working with the usual suspects — the likes of which have included names like Ryan Stiles, Brad Sherwod and Wayne Brady. Instead, he’s tasked with putting on the show with the help of five seemingly-sleeping strangers.
“It’s actually, I think, made me better,” Mochrie said about the show’s impact on his improvisational skills.
“Because with those guys, (Stiles, Sherwood, etc.) there are times I can go, ‘They seem to have an idea. I’m just gonna sit back, and follow it, and support it.'”
On stage with five people he’s never met, things are a bit more challenging. Since he’s the only one with decades of improv experience, Mochrie said his job is to “concentrate on listening to (the participants), taking their ideas, and making it into a scene.”
Here’s the gist of it: The duo brings 20 audience members up on stage, where Mecci vets them to see if they can be hypnotized.
“They just rush the stage, which I personally don’t understand, but they seem to want to do it,” said Mochrie.
From there, Mecci separates the people faking it for fame, from the legitimately lethargic. For instance, the hypnotist says there are ways of figuring out who’s under — like how participants respond to requests — along with practical indicators, like physiological signs.
“I’m always watching the induction part, because I find it fascinating, and I’m getting pretty good now, going, ‘okay, they’re faking, they’re faking; Oh, they’re totally under, they’re on the cusp.’ It’s fascinating to watch.”
The pair say that all participants are picked from people who’ve bought tickets to the show.
“It certainly boosts the unexpected, because they’re literally just doing what improvisers are supposed to do,” said Mochrie. “They’re listening to me, and they’re immediately reacting to what I say.”
Mecci says that while participants may look asleep, they’re actually completely aware of what’s going on.
“Their body looks asleep, but their mind is alert,” he said.
While Mecci says it’s been proven that people won’t get stuck in a hypnotic state, he still removes all suggestions at the end of the show.
“I always ensure that the people who leave the stage always feel good when they come out of hypnosis. And they always leave the stage in a good state,” he said.
People from many walks of life have taken up the call. From 80-year-old stroke survivors, to construction workers, to medical professionals, to one woman with social anxiety who was able to perform on stage under Mecci’s hypnosis.
“This woman said, ‘I don’t even know why I came up on stage because it’s almost crippling, my social anxiety. And I have never felt more confident in my life, as I did for that hour doing stuff with you,” said Mochrie, the “stuff” in this case being improvised comedy.
“And I hope it sticks. I hope it shows her what she has to offer, and that it’s never as bad you think it’s going to be.”
Mecci says the show is already sold out for dates in Toronto, St. Catharines, and Oakville, and tickets are going quick in Guelph for the River Run Centre show.
If you’re the timid type, you won’t be alone. Mochrie has said in the past that he was “painfully shy” as a child. When asked if he feels cheated that people can just get up on stage with Mecci’s help, he answers the way you’d expect:
“Yeah. I hate all those people.”
Deadpan. Full stop.