So, you want to learn stage hypnosis, but not sure how to go about doing it? Well, this blog will help. However, before I let you know exactly how to start your journey towards becoming a stage hypnotist (or ‘comedy hypnotist’), there are some initial things that are worth considering before you embark on your journey. The first one being ‘why’.
Why do you want to become a stage hypnotist?
There are many different jobs out there, some involving comedy, some involving hypnosis, but only one involving both. To perform a simple little hypnosis show (last minute at a house party, for example) doesn’t require too much preparation, and you can perform in the ‘spur of the moment’ with just a little skill… However, to create and perform a really good hypnosis show, and to run a successful stage hypnosis business, that requires quite a bit more…
Firstly, consider what type of person you are. Are you a natural entertainer? Do you want to be the centre of attention? Are you shy? Are you confident? Are you professional in your appearance/demeanour? Are you funny? All of these elements should be considered before you jump into the world of professional comedy hypnosis and performing your own stage hypnosis shows.
If you’re a natural entertainer, that will definitely help, because a stage hypnosis show is all about entertainment. In all honesty, the people aren’t really there for the ‘hypnosis bit’, they’re there to have a good time and to be entertained by watching their friends, family and strangers do funny stuff on stage (albeit at your direction). Now, entertainment doesn’t just mean ‘humour’, entertainment also means engagement, it means being able to create a ‘show’, or tell a ‘story’. It means drawing people in and getting their attention focused on the performance. You don’t need to be a natural entertainer, because entertaining and engaging are skills that will develop with time and experience. By performing hypnosis shows, you will learn what works for you and your audiences, you’ll learn what gets people engaged and what keeps them engaged. You will also learn what stops people from engaging. If you’re already a naturally engaging or entertaining person, you’re a step ahead of the game!
Another integral part of an entertaining hypnosis show is ‘humour’. It truly does help when a stage hypnotist has a great sense of humour. All of the best stage hypnotists that I know are either naturally quite funny, or at least have a good sense of humour. People with a poor sense of what’s funny tend to make unfunny hypnosis shows, which means they don’t last very long. Unlike ‘the olden days’ where hypnosis shows were more about ‘prestige’, ‘power of the mind’ and creating a sense of awe, nowadays if someone’s booking a ‘stage hypnotist’, they’re expecting a ‘comedy hypnosis show’. So, if you are naturally a funny person, or you have a great sense of humour, then fantastic. If you’re not, then work on it. There are tonnes of ‘comedian workshops’ out there (both in person and online), there are even books about starting out in comedy that might help you, and even more simply, you can Google ‘how to be funny’, there’s a whole bunch of blogs on the topic!
Check your EGO
Next, if you want to be the centre of attention or the ‘star of the show’, then hypnosis isn’t necessarily the best job for you. With stage hypnosis, the hypnotist is generally more of a ‘facilitator’ than the star. However, the hypnotist is definitely important. As an analogy, think of a film with a narrator. Some parts of the film are narrated, perhaps by a familiar/famous voice, and this narration adds a great deal to the story. However, the narrator is not the star of the film, they’re just there to set the scene, to explain, to add extra comments or thoughts that make the film itself even more entertaining and engaging. The hypnotist is like the narrator.
By all means, be ‘THE hypnotist’, have a healthy ego (and remember a ‘strong ego’ is different to a ‘big ego’). Yes, the show wouldn’t happen without you, but it would be even less likely to happen without your volunteers, THEY are the stars of the show! You’re the circus ringmaster, they are your acts, without them, you’re nothing. If you want more attention (sure, why not), then you are able to put yourself into your hypnosis shows, joining in with the skits, becoming an integral part of the routines that your audiences will see… You can be the ‘invisible hypnotist’, or the ‘dance competition judge’, or the ‘love interest’ of one of your volunteers, just keep in mind, like I said before, what the audience really wants to see is what their friends and family are going to do up on stage. So, the hypnotist could be you, me, Johnny Depp or some random person off the street, to the audience, the hypnotist is just ‘the hypnotist’, they’re there for the SHOW!
The business of becoming a stage hypnotist
If you want to make a living as a stage hypnotist, and run your own comedy hypnosis business, then as well as learning to do ‘the hypnosis part’ (which I’m coming to), you will also need to be a businessman (or woman!). Any hypnotist can put on a half-decent hypnosis show at the drop of a hat, but getting said show booking is where a lot of comedy hypnotists fall down. In reality, and for most of your career, you need to be thinking about the business side of things first, and the ‘hypnosis show’ part afterwards (as a close second)! If you just want to have fun doing hypnosis, then become a street hypnotist, and do hypnosis wherever and whenever you feel like it – no pressure! However, ff you want to be a professional, working stage hypnotist, and you want to pay your bills and earn some serious money as a hypnotist, then you need to get your business pants on.
You need to get your website and social media up and running. You need to get your marketing strategies and promotional materials planned. You need to get your policies, procedures and contracts in place. Ultimately, you’re offering a service, so you need to be a business professional, and if that’s ‘not your bag’, you have 2 options. Option 1 is ‘suck it up’, because you need to do it if you want to run a successful stage hypnosis business. Option 2 is ‘seek outside help’. There are people that will help you set up a business, you can hire personal assistants, you can get online assistants, you can even get help from friends/family members who’re happy to become the ‘admin’ side of the business (I know many hypnotists who’s spouses/partners are also their ‘managers’). Either way, if you want to become a professional stage hypnotist and have a full diary of bookings then make sure that you start out with the word BUSINESS in the forefront of your mind. This will help you quickly develop your hypnosis shows into a strong business that will pay your bills and grow your savings account, as well as being fun and fulfilling!
Prepare for travel… lots of it…
As a rule, hypnosis shows don’t all happen on your doorstep, generally you’re going to have to travel to and from your shows. This is something to factor in from the outset (because how do you feel about travelling?). I know some hypnotists who only work shows in their local areas (but hey, even if you live in a city, you could still end up travelling an hour or so each way, to and from a show). I know other hypnotists who fly across their countries, travelling to different states/counties to perform shows. Some hypnotists travel the world, performing shows in completely different countries and on cruise ships whilst travelling on the ocean. There are many options, depending both on how much you want to travel, and how and where you market your stage hypnosis business. However, it’s likely that wherever you plan to work, there will be some travel involved! Get used to it and use travelling time to your advantage (it’s a great opportunity to catch up on audiobooks, in my experience, lol)!
Learn to be a stage hypnotist
OK, so we’ve finally got there. You’ve considered all of the above factors and possibilities and you want to be a stage hypnotist. Great! Where do you start? Well, there are books, there are videos and there are courses that will teach you how to do stage hypnosis. Some cost money, some are free (like videos on YouTube for instance). But what do you need to learn? Well, it’s a good idea to learn the basics of hypnosis first – the facts, the myths, all that stuff. Once you know that, learn how to hypnotise, and as well as learning to hypnotise, stage hypnotists also benefit from knowing how to perform hypnotic suggestibility tests too, as these are an important part of the stage hypnosis show. If you’re a ‘visual learner’, our ‘Stage Hypnosis 101’ online course covers all of the basics to get you started hypnotising people for fun!
Once you’ve learned how to select your volunteers and get people into hypnosis, then you need to learn how to get them doing ‘funny stuff’ whilst hypnotised, and there’s SO MUCH funny stuff you can get people to do. For example, check out this (26 minute long!) video where I hypnotised my partner Sara for fun:
Now, getting people to do fun stuff in hypnosis is all well and good, however there’s a big difference between doing a couple of quick street hypnosis-style impromptu routines (such as in the above video) and putting on a full stage hypnosis show for 45-60+ minutes. So, as well as learning to do the skits and routines, you need to plan and structure your show. You need to do this whilst considering your intended audiences and how they will respond to your chosen routines.
A great resource that will help you learn to do comedy hypnosis routines, and will also teach you how best to structure them into a show, is my book, ‘the Stage & Street Hypnosis Handbook’. In fact, as well as covering the routines, it covers pretty much everything else you need to do in order to get your hypnosis show on the road. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re serious about learning stage hypnosis:
Finally: Practice, practice, practice
Yes, it’s that ‘P’ word again, because the very best way to get really good at performing comedy hypnosis shows is to…perform comedy hypnosis shows! When I started out, I began doing paid hypnosis shows straight away, those show WERE my practice. They definitely weren’t the best shows in the world, but they were a fantastic opportunity to get real-world practice (and they were good ENOUGH for the small events I started out with). If you’re not comfortable charging for your shows yet, then perhaps you can perform at charity events for free (they’re always looking for entertainment). Or offer your services to friends of friends for small parties and events. There really are a lot of opportunities to get hypnosis show practice, and if you’re not quite ready to practice a full show yet, then start by practicing in smaller ‘chunks’, performing mini shows/demonstrations, performing a little ‘street hypnosis’ wherever and whenever you can. The more practice you get, the better you will be, and the more quickly you will become a confident, competent comedy hypnotist!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this blog on how to become a stage hypnotist. If you have any more questions about this topic or anything else for that matter, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
– written by Rory Z Fulcher