A girl was running around screaming about the bees flying around her head. A guy had multiple band-aids on his face because he kept bleeding. Another guy was scooting around the floor on his butt to try and put a fire out. The Fun Police were writing tickets to the audience members who laughed. There was even a girl who was having an argument with a chair. Along with the extreme weather changes, the reeking odor and the dance auditions, the audience was thoroughly entertained.
On Saturday night, students gathered in the Student Center Ballroom to see Brian Imbus, a very sought after hypnotist, perform. He, along with 20 volunteers, entertained the crowd for almost two hours.
Imbus has been traveling the world as a professional hypnotist for 16 years. He does about 250 shows a year at places such as universities, high schools and corporate events where his years of experience have made him an expert. He is able to tell just from a flutter of the eye, or lack there of, if someone is fully hypnotized or not which makes it very unlikely that someone will fake their way through a hypnosis show.
“I’m sure that it has happened,” Imbus said. “I have gotten a lot better at making sure that it doesn’t.”
Students were able to see his expertise as he took people off stage when they were not in a state of hypnosis.
“After today, I believe it is [real],” said Sonoma State sophomore, Amira Martinez. “I think some of them were faking it. The ones who got called off stage, I think they were playing around for awhile.”
“Sometimes you would never know because some of the people that were on stage are probably telling their friends right now, ‘I was not hypnotized’ but they do not know,” Imbus said. “Some of them do not remember anything.”
Right off the bat, Imbus addressed the misconceptions about hypnosis assuring everyone that they would not be stuck in hypnosis forever and that he would not have them do anything too embarrassing under hypnosis. He revealed that he was a skeptic before he saw a hypnosis show.
“I was skeptical,” Imbus said. “If my friend had not of gotten hypnotized, I probably would not have believed in it. But after seeing him do it and talking to him afterwards it made me a believer.”
Before choosing his volunteers, Imbus put the entire audience through a few tests to see if they were susceptible to being hypnotized. After testing the audience, he called up 20 volunteers: 10 men and 10 women. He started putting these volunteers into a hypnotic state, and invited people who were still in the audience to be hypnotized as well. Two of the most entertaining participants started out in the audience, but were hypnotized in their seats and were brought up to the stage for the rest of the show.
For the next hour and a half, students under hypnosis thought they went to an island where they had to deal with drastic temperature change and had to paddle their canoe away from a shark. They also became professional entertainers who were DJing at a nightclub, acquired a fear of flying as their plane was taking off and started watching a movie where their emotions quickly changed from laughing to crying to screaming in fear.
One of the most entertaining parts of the show was when those who where hypnotized thought that they were auditioning for the last spot on “Dancing With the Stars”. Each time the song changed, they changed their style of dance to correlate. They twerked, did ballet, did an Irish jig and attempted many other styles of dance.
Hypnosis is not always used to make people dance or to entertain an audience. It also has very practical uses.
“Hypnosis can certainly be used for self-improvement, and alleviating bad habits and those types of things,” Imbus said.
Although they enjoyed the show, when asked if they would ever want to be hypnotized, sophomores Ashley Johnson and Rayleen Dudley automatically said, “No.”
Whether or not people want to be hypnotized, it is very entertaining to watch others in a state of hypnosis. That entertainment and energy begins with Imbus’ stage presence. Although he claimed that he is typically very shy, he has a strong, confident presence on stage. His passion and love for what he does is evident to audience members.
“When I am on stage, I do not get paid for that. What I get paid for is the stress of traveling, flying and being away from my family,” Imbus said. “The pay off is being on stage. That is what I love. That is what I enjoy.”