Legendary “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” improv comic Colin Mochrie and master hypnotist Asad Mecci will be at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts at UConn on Friday, April 8 at 8 p.m. to perform ‘HYPROV: Improv Under Hypnosis.’
HYPROV, pronounced ‘hip-rawv,’ incorporates hypnosis and improv to unleash the comedic potential of audience member volunteers in an incredibly hilarious fashion. Co-created by Mochrie and Mecci in 2016, they soon realized the show’s potential and set off in 2019 on a 50-city tour across the U.S. and Canada. After taking a pause during COVID-19, they are eager to be back and spread laughter across the country again.
“It’s fast paced, it’s action packed, it’s high energy, it’s above all else hilarious,” Mecci enthused.
Mochrie and Mecci are both eager to perform at UConn. They love engaging with young crowds especially as they bring out a dynamic, athletic side to the show.
“I like the young audiences because they still have hope in their eyes,” Mochrie jokes. “There’s an energy to a college crowd that you don’t always get.”
Under hypnosis, the part of the brain that contemplates self-criticism is dampened. This way, participants react to everything Mecci and Mochrie say, making them “pure improvisers.”
“There’s like a sweet spot, kind of like a flow state, they’re just in the zone, and they’re able to react quickly to all of the suggestions that Colin gives to them,” Mecci says.
The best candidates for on-stage HYPROV volunteers are those that can dissociate from their surroundings and get so caught up in what they’re engaged in that they have physiological reactions. These types of people are more likely to experience the visual, auditory and even kinesthetic hallucinations Mecci suggests. “We’ll take the sobbers,” Mecci jokes.
Every night, a “superstar” emerges, so much so that even Mochrie can be taken aback — which is no small feat.
“The improviser will say something and I’ll go ‘wow, I don’t think a ‘real’ improviser actually would have come up with that,’” Mochrie says. “It’s funny and it’s real to the situation, but it’s also so out there — it’s amazing because it keeps me on my toes … ”
Although Mecci hasn’t hypnotized Mochrie yet, it is bound to happen eventually, and will of course produce many laughs.
“It’s going to happen at some point, I know Asad is very excited to do it,” Mochrie says.
If all the “Whose Line” cast members were hypnotized, Mochrie reflected on who would be the funniest. Shockingly, Ryan Stiles was not his first pick: Stiles had been hypnotized before in an attempt to get over his fear of flying, however instead of the expected results, Stiles quit smoking for two weeks — an unlikely, yet appreciated, side effect.
“Of all the regulars, I think Wayne [Brady] would probably be the best because I think he would go for it … although how much better could he get? … he’s actually not that funny now that I think about it,” Mochrie jokes.
Who knows, maybe Brady or Stiles will make a guest appearance on the tour someday.
Despite its wide use for entertainment, hypnosis also has the power to reduce anxiety and make meaningful change in your life. Mecci describes how he drives positive change through goal driven and process driven imagery: When you picture yourself doing what you want, and the steps you need to accomplish to get there, you are “giving a blueprint to your unconscious mind,” and your unconscious mind has a tendency to follow it, Mecci explains.
Mecci demystifies any tensions around hypnosis by explaining that although it may appear magical, it’s all psychology. The trance states volunteers experience are harmless and impossible to get stuck in — they are the same as the ones you experience while daydreaming.
During the show, Mochrie is “basically in survival mode,” but Mecci always looks forward to the proposal scene: volunteers are hypnotized to fall in love with Mochrie. “The love in their eyes is sweet and shocking at the same time, they just are so committed to proposing to him, it’s unreal,” Mecci says.
Whether you want to experience the craze from the audience or are brave enough to head on-stage, get your tickets to see Mecci and Mochrie light up the Jorgenson Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, April 8 at 8 p.m. Check out the HYPROV website for more information and visit Jorgenson’s website to get tickets starting at just $20 for an incredible night of laughter you won’t forget!