The act of hypnotism seems to receive a bad reputation, and rightfully so, because the form of entertainment often makes people look like idiots. But that’s the obscure lure of stage hypnotism, and what encourages people to attend shows.
Geneseo Late Knight featured Eric Mina, a comedy hypnotist, in the MacVittie College Union on Friday Feb. 16 to entertain Geneseo students and their visiting siblings who came for Siblings Weekend.
The show was overall lackluster, highlighting the farce that is stage hypnosis. Mina, however, was able to offer some sentiments that made the experience a little more enjoyable and authentic.
Mina is a certified hypnotherapist and has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Penn State University. He has performed hundreds of shows throughout the United States and internationally, and in 2016 he was announced as the Performer of the Year by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.
During the show, Mina’s personal anecdotes allowed for the performance to be more genuine and less of an act.
In a rather unconventional way to start a hypnotist routine, Mina told a heart-wrenching story as to how he gravitated toward becoming a hypnotherapist. When he was 11 months old, he and his parents got into a car accident while on vacation and his mother died while trying to protect him.
Mina claims this left him with an immense amount of guilt for a lot of his life. When he was 22 years old, however, his mentor asked him one thing that changed his perspective on everything: “What do you think your mother taught the world by sacrificing herself for you?”
“At that moment, my whole situation changed,” Mina said. “I didn’t feel guilty about that situation because I felt like I was the reason my mom died to being proud that I had a mother who would do that for me.”
After this unconventional sentimental opening for a hypnotist show, Mina invited audience members to the stage to take part in his hypnosis act.
“The best part about my show is it’s not about me, it’s about you guys,” Mina said. Mina was right, as he simply became a narrator as the volunteers performed for the other audience members.
Once the whole production began, it was just that: a production. Gone away was the sadness and rich background Mina presented, and the audience was reminded what they were actually there for.
Along with some heteronormative jokes and awkward situations involving the “hypnotized subjects” seeing Mina and the audience naked, the show simply consisted of eight students making fools of themselves upon Mina’s suggestion.
It was disappointing that despite the different direction the show could have gone in, it was still an old-fashioned performance full of bland humor and suggestive comments. It was also hard to believe that all eight students were simply slaves to Mina’s commands.
Psychology major junior Kaylin Stone was upset with the hoax behind the show, stating it was too outrageous to be believable.
“It was entertaining, but it’s not a real thing,” she said. As a psychology major, Stone was upset with Mina’s representation of the psychology subject area.
“He made a point to say he was a psychology major to credit the discipline, but he was really feeding off the vulnerability of his participants instead of representing psychology,” Stone said.
Stone was right in that the performance could be interpreted as entertaining, but it’s not something that is supposed to be taken seriously. It is important to acknowledge that what you’re watching may not be real.
As long as the latter information is kept in mind, there was no harm in Mina’s spectacle. It’s just a shame that kitschy and inappropriate performance tactics faltered such a promising experience.