Twenty years in the past, young Mike Bishop waits backstage for his first show performing as a hypnotist. He is not nervous physically, but has a weird stress that he might nail it. He enters the stage dressed in all black: black t-shirt, blank pants. Bishop asks for a volunteer to come up onto the stage and be hypnotized. Only one hand goes up – a girl in her teens, dressed in blue jeans, red sneakers and a white sweater.
Today, Bishop’s shows go something like this: He puts his hand on a volunteer’s shoulder and says in a low, soft voice, “The person’s shoulder I’m touching will believe the number seven does not exist. When you count, you will count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11. Nod you head if you understand.” The person would nod their head.
Then he would tell another person, “Every time you hear the word “shoe” your left shoe will become so hot that you kick it off your foot.” Then he would command them to open their eyes. He would tell them a story and as soon as he said “shoe,” the person would get up so fast and try to get their shoe off.
Then he would go on and ask the person to count their fingers, and they would count “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11.” The crowd would laugh.
Then he went to his relaxed voice: “Sleep… Sleep… Sleep.” Everyone would go back to their relaxed state. “When you hear the applause you go deeper into relaxation,” Bishop would say. The audience would clap.
Then he said, “When you open your eyes your belly button will be gone… You will be upset with me because I took your belly button.” After volunteers on stage opened their eyes, they would ask him, “Can I have my belly button back? You took it.” With laughs coming from the audience, the volunteer would lift their t-shirts to feel if they have a belly button and would not feel anything.
This was all part of the Spell-Bound Comedy Hypnosis & Magic show at the Mid-Ohio Valley Player Theater in Marietta, presented by Bishop and Kerry Blair. Twenty years ago, this is where Blair did his first show at 16 years old. The theater has a lot of history. This theater was the starting line for many successful entertainers, so it was only right that they had a show where it all started. Bishop was inspired by Omar Migill, who performed at his high school. Bishop has performed over 400 shows a year. He is one of the top hypnotists, hypnotizing over 4,000 people a year.
Melissa, 16, was one volunteer who was hypnotized under the “shoe” trick. Talking to her she did not remember anything, and when I mentioned that she kicked her shoe off she gave me a blank stare. When I reached out to shake her hand she started to laugh and point at my nose. This was the last thing Mike said to her before she left the stage: “Anyone who you shake hands with will have a nose that will grow long has an elephant trunk, and you will burst out laughing.”
Deb Shockey, 53, another volunteer, said the last thing she remembers was just “going on stage.” After being hypnotized she said she “felt well rested,” and she didn’t remember anything she did on stage or what happened on stage. As I finished talking to her I reached out to shake her hand and within that second she burst out laughing because my nose was growing.
That girl in the blue jeans and red sneakers from the first show 20 years ago is walking off the stage, and as she walks off, Bishop reaches out and shook her hand, thanking her for being brave in coming up to the stage. The girl immediately burst out laughing. The audience laughed and applauded, for the end of a great show.