Comic or Hypnotist OR Comic and Hypnotist

When I took my first step on to a stage so many years ago, my single desire and focus was to be a comic. At the same time, I had been studying hypnosis for years, and was working with people privately for self improvement and to achieve their desired goals. Initially, it was never my intent to be a stage hypnotist. In my early 20’s I started performing comedy at open mic nights all over the Phoenix area. There was a good group of very funny local comics. Most of the performers were strictly stand up comics. Some of the performers were also  comic magicians, comic musical acts, and at least 1 comic ventriloquist.
I was constantly scared, but was never happier to be on stage to perform my material as I also tried to learn from my mistakes and from watching the other comics.

One day, my housemate asked me why I didn’t perform stage hypnosis. I told him I had no interest in being a stage hypnotist, my focus was on being a comic. My friend and I went round and round for several month, and then I finally made him a deal with him. The deal was simple; I would try to talk a club into letting me do hypnosis one show on one night. Regardless of the outcome – good, bad, or a complete failure, he would never bring it up again. With the deal made, I waited for the night to come, where I was going to get on stage and make a complete fool out of myself. When the night did finally arrive, I wanted desperately to back out, but I made a deal and I was going to see it through. I wasn’t worried about hypnotizing people because I had been doing that for years in private sessions.
Some of my concerns were:
1. No one volunteering
2. No one taking it seriously
3. No one cooperating with me so I could hypnotize them
4. The audience having no interest in seeing the show I was performing

Without going into detail, I was introduced, I explained what I planned on doing, and then asked for volunteers. To my shock, the stage filled with people who appeared to be willing and interested. Then, as I began my first ever stage induction, I watched in awe and utter disbelief as volunteers started exhibiting signs of deep hypnosis. Now I had only one problem. Since I never thought it would get this far, I hadn’t actually planned a show. I had absolutely NO MATERIAL written, nor bits planned. In a panic, I did a few simple bits I once saw another hypnotist perform (Pat Collins – The Hip Hypnotist). Having spent the last couple of years performing only comedy, and with the desire to be a full time professional comic, I knew one of the biggest cardinal sins of comedy was to steal someone else’s material. In that moment, I knew I either had to do something, or the audience would be staring at sleepy people on stage doing absolutely nothing and a hypnotist frozen with fear. So out of desperation, I did some of Pat Collin’s bits (if it’s any consolation, I felt like a dirty hack, and swore to myself, while still on stage I would never do that again, no matter the circumstances.)
The show was a success. The volunteers were great. The audience seemed to have fun. And that one night changed the direction of my career.

From that moment, I decided to start writing a show that combined hypnosis with comedy. However, I decided I wanted my show to focus on the comedy and much less on the hypnosis. In other words, it was never going to be that important to me to hypnotize all the volunteers, nor was it a goal of mine to have the audience look at me like I had magic they would never understand and could never figure out. Instead, I wanted to demystify hypnosis, make it seem approachable, safe and fun for the volunteers. I wanted the audience to laugh with the volunteers and not at them. I also hoped some of the audience would wonder what it felt like, see that the show was fun and not mean spirited, and would consider volunteering if they ever came to another show. I also decided from the very beginning that I wanted to write bits that would highlight the volunteers creativity to see where a situation might go. I tried to pattern my show in a way that would combine something like the sketch comedy of Saturday Night Live, with the spontaneity of an improv group like Second City or the Groundlings. It seemed more interesting, more fun, and funnier to suggest to creative individuals a scenario where they had to explore who they were in that moment and how they would interact with each other.

I’ve always joked with an audience that I know the stereotypical things people expect when they see a show with hypnotized volunteers – things like; barking like a dog, walking or quacking like a duck, lip syncing to some musical artist, etc. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that kind of approach. If a hypnotist performs those types of bit, they get volunteers, and the audience has fun, that’s great. There should be room for everyone.

I look at my show today as well as looking back over the years and I am happy with the direction I have taken. I may not be the fastest hypnotis. I may not get the most people hypnotized. But that was never my goal. I love performing stand up. I love that my life which is somewhat of a shit show (I mean that in the best way possible – LOL) provides endless amounts of material. I love the interest and enthusiasm of the audiences and most of all, the people who are willing and interested in volunteering. I love the creativity and spontaneity of the show. I especially love that no two shows are alike. I have been wildly fortunate and grateful beyond words to be a part of a show, night in and night out that continues to surprise and entertain me as well as the audience.

So, to the title of this blog – Comic or Hypnotist OR Comic and Hypnotist.
I don’t know how other people view my show or define what I do. However, I think of myself as a comic and a hypnotist. I love combining the 2 and want to thank my housemate from all those years ago for talking me into trying.

16 Comments

  1. Steve

    Comic and hypnotist very funny love your show never miss it when in town for over 20 yrs

    Reply
    • admin

      Thank you so much. That means a lot to me !

      Reply
    • Rita

      From the very first time I saw your show, I was hooked! I already knew no two shows would ever be the same! That’s why I keep coming back! I always refer to you as my comedian/hypnotist friend! For a small fee, I do proof reading. Haha!

      Reply
      • admin

        Rita,
        Thank you for coming to my show and giving me the chance to hook you!
        I’m thrilled to be your friend, and hope you know our ongoing relationship
        has gone longer than at least 4 of my marriages, and I believe all 4 (1, 2, 3, & 5) COMBINED.
        LOL

        I know I could benefit from a proof reader ! But, I pretend my typos, spelling errors and occasional
        grammar issues add to my charm. bwahahahahahahahahahahaha

        THANK YOU

        Reply
  2. Joni Goodman

    I have never responded to a blog, but felt compelled to do so as I had the pleasure of watching your show last Sunday night. I did not know what to expect. I thought it would be more fun to watch from the audience, but now I am not sure. Don’t get me wrong, the show was utterly fabulous! It was very funny, creative, and surprising as so much was happening up there on the stage! Who ever thought a guy could really hypnotize so many people at once with so much ease. Flip was very respectful of each person as he concocted various scenarios for them to respond to. His scenarios were as surprising and funny as the volunteers’ reaction to each of them. Flip truly made the volunteers on stage the “stars” of his show. I can’t wait to go again! Thank you Flip for all the genuine joy you brought to all of us that night. ~JG

    Reply
    • admin

      Joni,
      I wish I could say something more and better than thank you. Sometimes, thank you doesn’t feel like it’s enough.
      Still, since it’s the best I have….. Thank you very much

      Reply
      • Laura Zagnoni

        What a great story! I feel so blessed and fortunate to have known you over all these years! I saw you when you did stand up in Phoenix at the beginning of your career, and every time I can when you come to Phoenix ever since. We love your show- every time. It’s a great relief from “reality” whether on stage, or in the audience.
        I hope you keep bringing your unique brand of comedy to the stage. We need it!!

        Reply
        • admin

          Laura,
          Thank you very much!
          We go back such a long way. Long before I took my first step on a stage.
          And all these years later, it’s amazing to still keep in touch, to still
          get together from time to time.

          I appreciate the years of friendship
          and the years you’ve been coming out to
          see the show.

          Thank you

          Reply
  3. Dave Johnson

    After watching your show many times the words that come to me are hypnotic comedy and need both to make your show one of the funniest shows I have ever seen. I think the audience involvement and having non performers perform with you make it what is the most unique show I have ever seen. I throughly enjoy it and plan on seeing it again in July at DC Improv.

    Reply
    • admin

      Dave,
      I am flattered and thankful.
      Also, very excited to finally be coming back to DC. It’s been 2 1/2 years (I still can’t believe it)
      See you very soon

      Thank you !

      Reply
  4. Bob Nunn

    I’m very glad you made that deal, and that it became a hit. Of of us would have missed out on your wonderful shows. I love that each show, as you said, IS different and unique simply because of the different personalities that come up each time. For many years I continued to come and watch you perform, and always had a great time, laughing hysterically. Never did I want or plan to be a volunteer, until the last show we went to in Addison (pre pandemic) . A stranger at our table and I were talking about how many times my wife and I had seen you, but never tried it. He said he had volunteered one time and had a great experience. I sat contemplating, and when the time came for the show and volunteer call, I just got up and gave it a shot. I can’t tell you how great it was, how much fun I had, and I tell others now that it’s not as scary or embarrassing as they might think. I do feel being a creative person (you know I’m a musician I think) or just having an open mind does help a lot. And the thing for me personally was that I didn’t feel anything like I had thought-trance like Zombie lol. I felt in control, aware, but also calm, very relaxed, and willing to just let go and engage in whatever suggestions you came up with. It was exhilarating and total fun, and I can still recall most of what went on during the time on stage. So, thank you for becoming the ever funny Hypno Boy we all have come to love and laugh with!

    Reply
    • admin

      Bob,

      I am thrilled and somewhat overwhelmed by your comment. Thank you so much !

      Truthfully, as I started putting my show together, I hoped the audience would laugh and have fun.
      I hoped the volunteers would laugh, have fun, have a great experience, and would feel good about
      their decision to volunteer.
      Everything you wrote, is exactly what I hoped the show would provide.

      I can’t tell you how cool it is to me, that even after seeing my show (btw – thank you so much for coming out to my shows)
      you weren’t really interested in volunteering. Still, you knew you could come out to a show, and do what you thought
      was best to ensure a fun night out. When you finally decided to volunteer , it was for your own reasons.
      Finally, to get up on stage, and to have the good experience that I want everyone to have is so gratifying.

      Thank you again for everything !

      Reply
  5. Denise Oatley Hall

    Flip the first time I saw your show I was mystified. I had no idea where you were going because it was so different. But different in a good way. As I read your blog above it made perfect sense. It is refreshing to see someone create from the inside out on a hypnosis-comic/comic-hypnosis stage. So glad you were brave enough to make a deal, keep your word and explore what you wanted not what was expected. Bravo!

    Reply
    • admin

      Denise,
      So many thank you’s…….
      Thank you for coming to the show the firs time and giving “something different” a chance.
      Thank you for coming back to see another show.
      And Thank you for your kind words.

      Reply
  6. Kim

    From the very first show I was hooked…not enough to volunteer right away, but eventually I did. I didn’t imagine the show could be better as a volunteer, but it’s so much fun! Once I realized that I can just as easily be hypnotized at my seat in the audience (sometimes even deeper!) I stopped stressing about getting to one of the seats on stage and just let my show companions know if I want to go onstage that night.
    Besides having so much fun at the shows I have benefited greatly from the Sleep Better recording…my health has improved due to getting better sleep.
    Thanks to that roommate!

    Reply
    • admin

      Kim,

      Thank you so much. Your comment makes me smile so much.
      I appreciate your kind words and am thrilled you’ve had such a good
      experience at my show and participating in the show.

      Equally as important, it is wonderful to read that you’ve been getting good sleep,
      and the sleep has helped your quality of life.

      Sending (appropriate – LOL) hugs

      Reply

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