Comic to Open Fiserv Forum’s New Club
Comic hypnotist Flip Orley first to perform in intimate theater setting at Bucks arena.
The first time Flip Orley tried to hypnotize someone, he failed miserably.
In elementary school, Orley was the last of his friends without a date to the school dance, and he needed to change that. His solution was a book titled, How to Pick up Girls Through Hypnotism. Using the book as guidance, Orley walked up to his sixth grade crush and attempted to hypnotize her into being his date. In return, the girl kicked him between the legs and walked away. “After that I took a huge break from hypnosis,” says Orley.
It took awhile to get back to it, but nowadays Orley combines hypnosis with standup comedy, a unique hybrid he will perform at Fiserv Forum’s Panoroma Club, the small club on the arena’s top floor with views of the downtown skyline and the arena’s seating bowl. Orley will be the first to perform at the club, which has a maximum capacity of just 450 people, and only 236 for a theater set-up, which will be the layout for Orley’s shows. If things go right funny things should happen at the Forum.
The comedian and hypnotist has been on stage since he started doing stand up at age 18, he noted in an interview with Urban Milwaukee. Orley developed an interest in comedy as a young kid, a few years before his interest in hypnotism. “My parents thought it was adorable when I was young, but not so much when I got older and they realized I was serious about it.”
Orley found himself gravitating towards standup comedy in public while still practicing hypnosis in private. This time, his techniques included studying subjects like psychology and communications, while also meeting privately with a professional hypnotist. In the beginning, Orley mostly used hypnosis to help his friends sleep better and have better study skills. “I didn’t want to be a hypnotist, but I liked helping people with it.”
In college, hypnosis eventually converged with comedy when a friend begged him to hypnotize someone at one of his comedy sets. “I didn’t get the appeal” of the idea, he says. But he finally told the friend “I would do one show combining the two if he would stop bugging me.”
In his shows, Orley attempts to strike a balance between the hypnosis and comedy. Depending on the show, he starts out with 20 minutes to an hour of stand-up before adding hypnosis. “It’s really fun to watch this spontaneously happen,” he says. “It’s not scripted, and there’s no actors. Volunteers are not pretending. Some people believe its real, others don’t.”
He also follows a strict rule of no demonstrations. This means he will never hypnotize someone to, say, bark like a dog or make their own body stiff as a board. “It may look cool, but there’s nothing funny about it,” he says.
Instead, Orley likens his show to the sketch comedies of “Saturday Night Live” and “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” A group of volunteers are hypnotized, and are then asked to act out a humorous situation. They could become a group of disgruntled parents petitioning to end Elf on the Shelf, or a group of trailer park inhabits who have been visited by a UFO. “It’s almost like watching an improv group creating,” he says. “How they interact with each other becomes comedic.”
Orley maintains that hypnosis, especially when used in his shows, is not about placing someone under control. Rather, it taps into the unconscious mind and helps one access their own imagination. Then, that person can either accept or deny any suggestion made by the hypnotist. Orley offers a detailed explanation of how this works:
Kids use imagination to play, and everything in that moment is real. Make believe becomes real. As we get older, we realize we’re not supposed to do that, and we become very analytical and objective. We suppress the childlike qualities, but they’re still there in the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind houses creativity, imagination, long term memory and emotions. They’re still there but they work behind the scenes. Hypnosis brings that aspect of the mind forward.
Orley says that a common misconception about hypnosis is that a person is under the control of the hypnotist. In movies and shows, hypnotized people are often portrayed as being asleep or unconscious, and often they wake up with no memory of what happened. According to Orley, it’s not about losing control, and no one can force you to do anything. While hypnosis can be used to “shield” the mind and make people temporarily forget certain things, Orley notes, he does not do so to his volunteers. “I feel that people should remember the show, ” he says. “The only way to have a full and fun night is for you to know exactly what has happened.”
Creating a fun night for his audience and making volunteers feel good is his top priority. That’s why Orley never singles out or picks on audience members, and he never selects volunteers himself. Chairs are set up on the stage, and audience members are welcomed to walk up and claim one if they want. “I don’t make fun of anyone. I don’t want volunteers to feel embarrassed, I want them to feel great afterwards. I want to make other audience members wish they’d volunteered.”
Orley emphasizes that his shows are strictly entertainment, but helping people can be an extra bonus. “I’m hired as an entertainer. My job is to help people experience laughs and joy and to walk away feeling happy at the end of the night. If that’s the only thing that has happened, then I’m thrilled,” he says. “If anyone thinks hypnosis is a powerful tool and can help them set and achieve their goals, if they not only have fun but see its value—that’s just the icing on the cake.”
While Orley has not performed in Wisconsin for a number of years, he’s glad to make his return. “I’m thrilled that they opened the Panorama club,” he says. “I think it’s a great idea, and I would love people in Milwaukee to support that.”
Orley will perform at Fiserv Forum’s Panorma Club on June 29. An all-ages show will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and a 21-and-older show will be held from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at FiservForum.com.
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