By Tristan Leach
Excited students entered the room, whispering in anticipation as they took their seats. Suddenly loud music and an announcer’s voice blared through the speaker. Music played as David Hall walked across the Cavalla Room floor. Cards Against Hypnosis was about to begin.
On March 26, the Student Entertainment Council welcomed Hall, a full-time hypnotist, who performs two popular shows. At the start of the show, he made sure to emphasize that hypnosis is a voluntary happening that people experience every day.
“It is all in your imagination,” Hall told the audience. To demonstrate this Hall asked the audience to try two different small exercises to prove that it was really up to the people in the audience whether or not they wanted to be hypnotized. The exercises included focusing on your fingers until they touch and your arms moving independently while you focus on them.
After these two exercises, Hall chose 10 volunteers from the audience to be hypnotized. Hall made it clear that nobody would be embarrassed.
“I don’t believe we need to embarrass people to have a good time,” he told the audience and participants.
After the 10 were picked, they went through a hypnotic induction. This five-minute induction prepared the participants for what hypnosis would truly feel like and also allowed Hall to see if anyone had any lasting reservations about the experience. During the induction, Hall put the participants through several prompts, including relaxing on a beach in the Bahamas, trying to keep themselves warm in freezing temperatures, and eventually returning them to a state of deep sleep.
Hall said, “I got interested in this when I was in college and then I started studying it in college. After college, I went and got trained out in Las Vegas in stage hypnosis.”
As the participants slept, Hall explained the game, using cards in the style of the popular party game Cards Against Humanity, there would be a prompt, and then the audience would be able to choose between two outcomes.
“I was looking for a way of involving the audience, ‘cause in the past, I used to do hypnosis shows where I would just pick the things on stage for people to do, and the audience would sit back and watch. So I was looking for a way to engage the audience, and I think this is a really fun way to allow the audience to be more excited and engaged,” Hall said.
Some of the night’s favorites included the participants being hypnotized to believe they were seeing their favorite celebrity or favorite animal. One student told Hall he saw a blue and white cat sitting in the third row.
He also convinced all of the participants that they had won a million dollars, and then told them there was a pickpocket amongst the spectators. Hall rushed the participants to hide their checks and then asked them if they happened to have a $1 nillion check or not. The reactions of the participants had the audience members in fits of laughter.
As the night came to a close Hall brought the participants out of their hypnotic trance and then had each of them bow individually, as “they were the real stars of the show,” Hall said.
Megyn Kukulka, a sophomore arts entertainment industries management major, said, “I attended the show because I attended a hypnosis show prior and I thought it was a lot of fun, so I wanted to go see it again.”
Hall thanked the audience and participants for an amazing night, took his bow and the night ended. Excited students rushed to talk to their friends who volunteered to be hypnotized; others went to talk to Hall.
As students left the Cavalla Room there was excited chatter. Many expressed their hope to see Hall and his talents back again soon.