Comedy Hypnotist Matt Hale returns to FRINGE WORLD in 2020 with his new show Random Acts of Mindness. Check out one of his 31 performances across five venues from Friday, January 17 to Sunday, February 16. BRITNEY COULSON caught up with Hale to talk about the psychology of hypnotism, his “random” new set of routines, and why even though two performances are never the same, we can always expect the feel-good, fun and silliness factor to be cranked to the max at his shows.
You’ve been a comedy hypnotist for a while now. Do you remember the first time you hypnotised someone and how did you feel when you realised you could change the way someone acted?
It was quite a bizarre moment, because I remember thinking, “huh, so this stuff really works then!”
Volunteers must feel nervous knowing they will act ridiculous in front of an audience. How do you make them feel comfortable and trusting towards you? Do you make the notion of being a fool disappear or do you encourage people to embrace silliness?
Every year I start the show differently, always in a way that has me looking ridiculous, but without a care! I think that definitely sets the tone of the night and lets the audience in on how good, pure, unbridled fun feels.
Plus the one thing I set out (to do) from day one of performing shows was to always make sure that those who take part feel amazing about doing so. I’d seen too many shows where the participants ended up embarrassed and I could never see the benefit in that. I figured that if I ran a show where the volunteers feel so pleased they took part because of how good it felt and how much fun it was, then it would leave the audience thinking, “I wanna give that a go now!” So right from the start of the show I always let everyone know that my stage is a place of fun and happiness and, and yes, let’s embrace the silliness because of how good that feels!
You guarantee a show that the whole audience will find acceptable and won’t offend anyone. I’m sure many comedians would find that difficult. How do you go about that in your shows?
It’s actually pretty easy – I’m simply taking some everyday situations and then giving them some silly little twists, so that when the imaginations of my volunteers are engaged around those ideas with the belief that it’s real, the laughs are huge! That gives me an endless pool of ideas to choose from, so I’ve never found the need or desire to narrow the potential audience down by choosing controversial or offensive routines.
How has your knowledge of the mind clinging to certain patterns changed your own everyday life?
Completely! Any behaviour or habit is a product of your mind, accidentally or on purpose, getting used to a certain pattern of thinking or action due to repetition. Do it enough times, and your mind goes “alright mate, got it, I’ll run that pattern in the background without you even having to think about it.” When you realise that, you can change unhelpful old patterns, or create completely new ones to work towards what you want to achieve or feel.
Have you been hypnotised before? If so, how has that impacted how you carry out your shows?
Yes, in fact that was one of the catalysts for wanting to do my own shows. The experience fascinated me, but the explanation didn’t sit right with me. Back then, old hypnotists were very cliched and guarded and liked to shroud it in mystery. They’d say things like, “it’s a power I was born with.” I obviously wasn’t buying that explanation, so I set out to find the psychology behind it. Then when I started my shows, I stripped away any mystery and explained to the audience how and why it happens, and how we actually use the same state of mind accidentally in day to day life anyway.
Hypnotism is all about focussing on something until it becomes your reality, which you say is useful for happiness and success. In what ways can a silly activity at your show make people change the way they think or act in their everyday lives?
The experience certainly shows that you are truly in control of the way you act and feel, by the way you think and focus. If you can laser focus into a silly suggestion that sees you stuck to a chair or talking like an alien, you are quietening down all the bits of the mind at that time that would ordinarily question that strange suggestion. That kind of focus is incredibly helpful when trying to achieve any kind of goal or change.
You speak passionately about how there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ memory and that anyone can become a pro when it comes to memorising. Apart from relaxation techniques that you’ve shown at your shows, how else can comedic hypnotisation help someone unveil their potential?
In so many ways. It allows people to realise that when you change the images in your mind, you change the result. When you keep an idea “top of mind” and focussed, your mind will work with you and start to work towards that becoming your new reality.
What do you tell people who think hypnosis is a gimmick?
That they probably have seen some very outdated portrayals of what it actually is, whether in a movie or from an old school hypnotist touting that he can control your mind! Squash those silly beliefs, strip away the mystery and listen to an explanation of how the mind works with that combination of relaxation, focus and imagination, and it will make a lot more sense.
You’ve said your Random Acts of Mindness show will be “completely random” but will make “perfect sense”. Tell us about your new show and how it’s different to previous Matt Hale shows?
The feel-good, fun and silliness factor will definitely be cranked to the max. The start of the show, before I even get anyone on stage, will see the whole crowd absolutely rocking in a real party atmosphere. And of course, I’ll be running a completely new set of routines that I’ve based around random situations. Plus the beauty of having a different set of volunteers every night, is that realistically there’s never two shows that are the same. People react in so many different ways every night, that it keeps it just as fresh for me too. I’d definitely say, whether you’re taking part or watching, prepare to smile a lot, laugh heaps, and leave absolutely buzzing!