HYPROV comedy duo comes to CLC

Zoe Rabin

Hypnotist Asad Mecci and comedy legend Colin Mochrie formed the group HYPROV. This interactive show combines hypnotism, audience participation, and hilarious improv to put on a show unlike any other. The show consists of twenty chosen participants from the audience, who Mecci then hypnotizes.

“We don’t know any of the people on stage. We’ve never met them before …  what we see is what we get; what the audience sees is what they get,” says Mecci about the selection of the participants. “It’s 20 random volunteers that come up on stage, and we do our best every night to make it as entertaining as possible for the audience and also for ourselves.”

Mecci then decides which five or six participants he deems most responsive to the hypnosis based on physiological feedback and chooses them to become part of the show for the night.

“[Hypnotic trance] is a very normal, natural state,” says Mecci. “A good example of a hypnotic trance state would be when you’re watching a scary movie, and you get so caught up in what you’re watching that you’re moved to a physiological response. So your heart starts to race, your palms get sweaty, logically, what you’re watching on the big screen is not real. But for that moment in time, it feels really real.”

This group is then thrown into acting scenarios orchestrated by Mochrie as he influences them to let loose on stage through improvisation.

“The great thing about an improv show is that you never know what is going to happen from one moment to the next, and that seems double-y part of this show, triple-y if that even is a word,” says Mochrie. “When I’m working with [people I am familiar with], even though I don’t know where they’re going to go in the scene, I sometimes have a really good idea, or I just trust them enough to follow along and see what happens. With these people I’ve never met before, who are in a hypnotic state, I have to immediately trust them and just make a lot of assumptions that this is all going to work out.”

Mochrie & Mecci founded HYPROV in 2016, and have found joy not only in performing but in working with one another.

“It’s good. I mean, … we were kind of thrown into this,” says Mochrie in regards to the show as a whole. Assad came up with the idea. It seemed like within the month we were doing it, and there was really no way to rehearse. It was basically we’re in front of an audience with people. We had to build an instant trust between each of us to trust he knew what he was doing. He had to trust I could work with whatever he supplied me with, and it’s, I think it’s been a really good working relationship. We get along really well. The tour has been fun, smooth, and easy, considering how it should have more stress attached to it. It’s been lovely.

Mecci was in complete agreement.

“Colin Mochrie is a dream to work with – I’ll put that on the record,” said Mecci. “He’s a scholar and a gentleman. And I have to tell you that the show is hilarious because of him. He is absolutely hysterical on and off stage. Lots of fun.”

Hypnosis allows the participants to be more susceptible to the scenarios Mochrie throws at them by making the surrounding environment seem natural to the hypnotized person. When a person is immersed in the hypnotic trance, they are much more likely to be convinced that whatever reality Mecci and Mochrie are proposing to them is real; this could influence the subject’s visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and gustatory sensations.

“[If] I give the suggestion that there’s a pink elephant sitting on the stage, really good hypnotic subjects will hallucinate that,” says Mecci. “[I] can say a doorbell is going off, and … a good hypnotic subject will think oh, wow, that there’s a doorbell going off, I gotta go answer the door.”

Hypnosis allows Mecci to influence all of the participants’ senses in a way that makes the duo’s act easier to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that subjects are at the complete will of Mecci and Mochrie.

“They’re aware of what’s going on – they’re not going to do anything against their morals or ethics or cultural values when they’re hypnotized,” says Mecci. “You can make people do things that they normally wouldn’t do when they’re hypnotized, but you can’t make anybody do anything that they don’t want to do.”

Despite all of the things that hypnosis can do, Mochrie says that many people still have doubts about the abilities of hypnotism and don’t believe that it is real.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about [hypnotism and improv], [people say] oh, it’s not real, or people are pretending,”

Mochrie also finds a similar criticism with improv, as many people think it may be fake or staged.

“As an improviser, I’m constantly asked, ‘so you guys are really making it up?’ And yeah, you know, it’s what I do – we all improvise,” says Mochrie. “I mean, our entire lives are improvised, … so we’ve just taken that and put it on stage.”

Despite these misconceptions, Mochrie still hopes that the audience leaves after the show with a different perspective.

“It’s my hope that people have more respect for both of those art forms when they leave the theater, and also just have a good time; this is just a really fun show where you really don’t have to think about anything except about how enjoyable it is.”

HYPROV will be performing on Friday, October 8 at 7:30 pm at CLC in the James Lumbar Center. Please call the CLC box office to purchase tickets at 847.543.2300.