A comedienne, a dancer and a hypnotist walk into a bar
I've learned a lot about hypnotism over the past couple of days. I've learned that hypnotism is a psychological state in which participants experience heightened suggestibility, perhaps accompanied with a sense of tranquillity. I've learned that hypnotism has been attributed to the placebo effect, mass hysteria, normal brain functioning, and a 'magnetic fluid existing within the universe', according to various researchers in the field of hypnotism. I've learned that research in the field of hypnotism is an actual thing.
I also did some research (i.e. read the Wikipedia article) on 'stage hypnosis', and one particular point stuck with me – 'Expert opinion is divided over whether participants' responses are best explained as being due to an altered state of consciousness ("hypnotic trance") or by a combination of deliberate deception and ordinary social psychological factors such as disorientation, compliance, peer pressure, and ordinary suggestion.' Remember this – it might become important later on.
On Saturday, 2 November, my partner and I attended Dizzy Presents Cabaret featuring stand up comedienne Jess McIntyre, burlesque dancer Frankie Vandellous, and comedy hypnotist Dizzy. Now, I'm something of a sceptic. My magic-loving partner won't let me watch Dynamo with him because I'm too busy trying to find the sleight of hand and figure out who the plant is to enjoy the show. I wondered if my scepticism would ruin my enjoyment. I was surprised to learn that it really doesn't matter. Whether you're a believer or not, you'll find something to enjoy here.
The show took place at the Spring Hill Hotel, in a little function room adjacent to the main hotel. The venue had an old fashioned vaudeville feel, with its red carpets and tables clustered around a lighted stage, and this turned out to be very appropriate for a show that felt like an old fashioned variety hour.
The show opened with Julia Gillard discussing her upcoming memoir and struggles with unemployment ('McDonalds turned me down… so I went directly to Ronald and said, 'From one clown to another…'). Relax, I'm not talking about the Julia Gillard, although Brisbane comedienne Jess McIntyre does an uncanny impersonation.
From former Prime Ministers to heartbroken burlesque dancers… Frankie Vadellous followed up with a show that was as entertaining as it was titillating. After a good cry and a swig from her vodka bottle, Ms Vandellous got on with the show, lavishing her attentions on one very lucky audience member (in fact, that best line of the night came from his mate – "What did he do?!")
Left to right: Dizzy, Franky Vandellous and Julia Gillard
After a brief intermission, the headline act began. Hypnotist Dizzy (who, it is claimed, received his training from Hogwarts but doesn't use a wand because he doesn't want to pay Joanne Rowling any royalties) called for volunteers from the audience, and one thing I really appreciated, as I sat in my seat praying he wouldn't call on me, was that he didn't force anyone to participate, even those who were 'volunteered' by their friends. Perhaps this is partially because, as he explained, the act doesn't work as well on people who aren't completely open to it.
There were no swinging watches or swirly dials; Dizzy's technique is best described as a form of meditation, with participants told to 'close their eyes and fall to sleep'. Once Dizzy had whittled down the volunteers to a group of the four most willing participants, the fun began.
Dizzy had his volunteers spooning with each other, participating in twerking competitions, and bumping and grinding with their favourite celebrities (members of the audience were called up to stand in as these celebrities; my partner was chosen as Channing Tatum, which meant that I got go home with Channing Tatum that night!) The result was absolutely hysterical.
Were the participants really hypnotised? I'm not so sure. Did I laugh so hard I cried? Yes. And that's really all that matters.
Dizzy will return to the stage in the new year, so keep an eye on his website for show details. He can also be hired for corporate gigs, so this might be your chance to get that raise your boss has been holding out on.
A fun night out, I give Dizzy's Cabaret four swirly dials out of five.