Review by Lara Fox
Matt Hale Comedy Hypnotist brought plenty of laughs to Midland on Saturday 25 March, with good value entertainment for people of all ages and backgrounds. The show is part of Midlandia, which is described as an urban circus, magic and comedy festival that runs throughout March in Midland. The festival is a joy: it is set out nicely like a mini-Fringe, complete with circus tents, shipping containers as box offices, quirky furnishings and a great vibe.
Unfortunately, Matt Hale Comedy Hypnotist was in a circus tent which was too large for the crowd that attended, with the patrons only managing to fill around half of the seats available. They may have been able to get away with this, making it seem more vibrant and cosy if people were allowed to sit on the vastly empty ‘premium’ seats closer to the stage, but were instead forced to sit on the hard slabs at the back of the tent.
Hale is only a small man in stature but his voice and presence is large; he is confident and effervescent – a true showman. He introduces the show and himself to the audience by talking everything through very slowly and repeating everything over and over, it is like he is talking to primary school students, and it can become irritating, though in fairness, this may be a part of the preparation of the hypnotism soon to take place.
He gives the audience some background information and a quick exploration through hypnotism, explaining that when hypnotised, you won’t do anything that you don’t want to do and that it is in fact like a form of being in deep subconsciousness. He says it is actually an extremely relaxing experience and that you would feel rested after being hypnotised.
His clarifications must have been convincing enough because when it came time to ask people onto the stage to be hypnotised, all the 15 chairs were quickly filled with eager subjects.
He starts the process by talking slowly and clearly, repeating himself over and over, giving simple instructions, and touching, tapping and clicking at his onstage guests. It doesn’t seem like anything is happening to the point where do find yourself thinking “just hurry the bloody hell up.” Soon enough though, the subjects are hypnotised. It is hard to tell when they have gone from being simply obedient to his demands to under hypnotism, but you work it out soon enough, because they all become less self-aware.
The show then proceeds by Hale instructing the hypnotised through a series of hilarious, bizarre, confusing and pretty damn funny situations, including talking into their shoes, playing nonsensical games and dancing like no one is watching. And this is where the show wins: Matt Hale himself is not very funny – but luckily for him, watching a person who has been hypnotised and essentially lose all their inhibitions is hilarious. To see people act with no screen or sensor, to be completely and utterly themselves, is so interesting and refreshing – and definitely comical.
The highlight of the show was when he got a middle aged man, complete with phone belt, tucked-in shirt, big white sneakers- aka the cleanest, most sensible and conservative person you could imagine- to catwalk along the stage, giving his sexiest looks and dance moves to the audience to the beat of a cheesy pop song. This is pretty priceless, no matter who you are, what age, where you are from, or what kind of sense of humour you have – there is no way you can watch this and not laugh.
There is something natural and innocent and beautiful about the way people are when hypnotised, and this is the crux of the show. The way Hale goes about his business is extremely clever and unique; he did an excellent job at keeping the crowd engaged, the hypnotised in line, all while seamlessly stitching together a very difficult show.
Matt Hale Comedy Hypnotist is great entertainment and promises laugh out loud moments for everyone, no matter who you are.
Matt Hale Comedy Hypnotist has one final show at Midlandia on Sunday, April 2nd at 8pm. For tickets and more information, visit the event website here.