Students went from fast asleep to wide awake with a click of the tongue from hypnotist Chris Jones.
Jones performed at 9 p.m. last night in the Carole and Barry Kaye Auditorium, inside of the Student Union. His performance was one in a series of events for new students, called So Fresh Week. Doors opened at 8:30 p.m., and hundreds of students flooded the auditorium, filling most of the seats by the time the show started. The performance was organized by the Program Board, a subdivision of student government.
After members of the Program Board introduced themselves, Jones walked onstage and announced himself a hypnotist, magician, comedian — with one exception.
“I have no magic powers,” Jones said. He opened his act with a well-received comedy routine, a vague explanation of his skills and a shoutout to parents in the audience. “He looks like Drake,” Jones joked about himself. “Obama, yeah, great.”
“If I can persuade you, I can hypnotize you. And you can all be persuaded,” he explained. Then he quietly started singing the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the entire audience joined him and finished it in seconds.
“Well done, white people,” Jones joked. He described himself as a “halfrican american,” and although Jones’ humor relied too heavily on racial tension, it worked in his favor for a college campus.
“If it’s not facebook official, I’m not going to ask it,”Jones said to reassure the “hypno-virgins” in the audience. And to pick his 18 stage volunteers, Jones blasted music in the auditorium and told students he would pick the ones dancing the wildest. After those 18 were seated on stage, four more audience members jumped on stage to participate.
And although he promised he wouldn’t embarrass them too badly, some were crying on stage, admitting their deepest secrets or petting each other before Jones was done with them. To make sure these embarrassing moments could live on past his performance, he encouraged friends of the volunteers to record their actions.
“Asleep,” Jones commanded, and just by saying it, his volunteers fell asleep on the spot.
A six foot tall, 280 lb. volunteer, who started out towering over the hypnotist, was on the floor laughing like an uncontrollable five year old.
Then Jones made Danica Weston, a senior majoring in social work, admit her celebrity crush was Chris Brown before convincing her that Tyler Sheinberg, a white FAU student in the audience, was Brown himself. Weston ran off the stage, jumped into his arms, and wrapped her legs around him.
“Awake,” Jones commanded, and Weston’s face instantly soured.
Before the night was over, Jones had some volunteers pretend they were underage drinkers hiding from the cops in one minute and pretending they were playboy bunnies posing for the cover the next. He managed to reveal more about his volunteers as he asked them to name their poses. Answers ranged from “the big surprise,” to “the subway footlong.”
And when he asked his volunteers what they would do with $1,000,000, their answers were brutally honest. Two girls revealed they would buy bigger breasts without hesitation, while Chip Corley, a sophomore majoring in business, wished for Spiderman web shooters.
When Jones pretended to be an officer breaking up a party full of underage drinkers, Corley acted terrified. He told the officer his full name — William Chip Corley — something he wouldn’t reveal during any other part of the night, he said
“I was scared,” Corley recalled afterward. “I almost got arrested once, it made me think of that.”
And to end his show and bring it full circle with the opening joke, Jones put on a pair of sunglasses and pretended to be Drake. He lip-synced to the rapper’s track, “Best I Ever Had.”
“When you wake up, the school paid $150,000 to see Drake. You won’t remember a thing until you walk out the doors of the auditorium,” Jones assured his hypnotized, humiliated volunteers.
“Make it longer next time,” Weston said of the singer’s performance when the show was over.
Jones cost the Program Board $2,500 for his appearance, while another $500-800 went to paying the auditorium lighting and audio technicians, according to Lexi Rosario, the Program Board director. Rosario’s target headcount for the hypnotist was 500 students, which she exceeded with almost 700 students at the performance, according to auditorium staffers.
Rosario’s highest expectation for the event was creating an experience students would remember for years afterward. Thanks to Jones letting his audience record his antics throughout the night — they will.
“I could not have asked for a better show,” Jones said after his performance. “Thank you for such a fun time.”