hypnotist Flip Orley: On the Flip Side

On the Flip Side

Comic hypnotist Flip Orley mesmerizes the audience, and garners some laughs, too, at the Addison Improv.



published Thursday, June 6, 2013


Flip Orley offers an invitation that’s hard to refuse: If you’ll relax, think imaginatively, and believe in the brain’s incredible power, he’ll take you all kinds of places, and if you’re really into it he’ll invite you on stage for a joy ride. The technique is group hypnosis, and to put you in the mood and keep you there he weaves it all with humor. The show ends Thursday at the Addison Improv.This kind of hypnosis is far from the clichéd, vaguely European mesmerizer who swings a silver pocket watch and intones “You are getting very sleepy.” Modern hypnotists like Orley work the articulated murmur, continually talking in a finely modulated, evenly paced, monotone, friendly yet deeply authoritative. The conscious mind is lulled into submission. With the gatekeeper asleep the subconscious is free to come out and play.Orley starts the show with an exceedingly verbal short stand-up set, lacking the story enactments, character voices and physical engagement more commonly seen in comedians these days. The material works the travails of single dads and online dating of the four-times-divorced Orley. Not the most unique stuff, it sure does gain him the empathy of men in the audience.

But Orley is a very funny fellow and excels best in the improvisation moment. Stand-up segues into an extended comedic discourse on hypnotism, creativity, imagination and the mind. Fears and misconceptions about hypnotism are addressed: participants do not become unconscious, go to sleep or in a trance. Let’s just say they become highly suggestible.

Cautions and instructions on how the show operates are given, given, and given some more. Some of these guidance gems, he notes, were learned the hard way. Before one routine, which involves the suggestion that hypnotees see the clothed Orley as being naked, the caution was basically “Do not fondle the Flip.” They did not grope, but they sure did blush, and you just can’t fake that.

A dozen chairs fill the small stage at the Improv. After the verbose introduction—“Think I’m long winded? Hey, talking is the only skill set I have” says Orley—he invites the willing to take a chair on stage. Then the thinning of the herd begins, as the first few suggestion routines reveal who is actually hypnotizable and who is not.

Once the core group is established, the games begin. Hypnotees are convinced their chairs are bolted to the ground and can’t be moved, that their arms are rigid and cannot be bent, that their faces are made of rubber. They react to things that do not exist, like horrid aromas from the audience. They see things that are not there, like Flip being invisible and his mic floating in the air. At one point Flip suggests that he is embodying the god Priapus in an extremely good mood, causing more blushing and some wistful looks on the women’s faces. All to great comic effect.

But most of all, what Orley does is give is permission: to let go, to not be afraid, to believe in yourself, and to remember that when you were a kid, back when you were the real you, how you created whole worlds with your eyes open in what adults dismissively call “make believe.” Thanks For Reading