If you go
What: A comedy hypnosis show
Where: Capt. Brien’s Off the Hook Comedy Club, 599 S. Collier Blvd.,
When: 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, July 1 and Saturday, July 2; 9:30 p.m. Sunday, July 3
Ages: 12 and older
Tickets: $20 general admission, $45 VIP
Information: www.captbriens.com/off-the-hook-comedy-club, (239) 389-6900
To say Rich Guzzi’s comedy is hypnotic is no exaggeration.
The 47-year-old New York native delivers about 10 minutes of stand-up at his show, and for the rest he focuses on his audience members, some of whom he hypnotizes and has them do silly things like Elvis impersonations and making them believe they’re riding a roller coaster.
Guzzi performs at Capt. Brien’s Seafood and Raw Bar, home of the Off the Hook Comedy Club, 599 S. Collier Blvd., at 8 and 10 p.m. July 1 and July 2, and 9:30 p.m. July 3.
“It’s almost like being in a dream-like state, said Guzzi, who now calls Nashville, Tenn., home. “They won’t remember anything except having some fun.”
Guzzi performs 300 times a year, and his goal is to change people’s perception of hypnotism one show at a time.
He said he first learned hypnotism when he was 12. Guzzi said one of his sandlot football buddies kept dropping the ball and he and his friends joked about it.
“We told him, ‘We should hypnotize you to catch the ball better,’ ” Guzzi recalled.
Guzzi said he went to the local library and checked out a 62-page book on hypnotism. He read it and helped his friend catch the ball.
“It worked and we had all him doing all this funny stuff in the book,” Guzzi said. “I’ve been doing it for a long time, so it’s pretty easy. I can pretty much knock anybody out in 30 seconds to a minute.”
There are skeptics, he acknowledged, and that’s probably why he has yet to appear on a national late-night talk shows. Some network TV executives probably find it a bit much trying to translate hypnotism to a television audience, he said.
“Hypnosis is still considered a dirty word in most parts of the country,” Guzzi added.
A certified clinical hypnotherapist, Guzzi said that doesn’t deter him from showing others the benefits of hypnosis. He said he’s helped celebrities cure various phobias when he lived in Los Angeles. And, he said, he’s worked with professional sports teams to help players address mental blocks keeping them from performing to their potential.
Capt. Brien Spina, co-owner of the comedy club Capt. Brien’s Seafood and Raw Bar, said Guzzi performed last July Fourth weekend. It will be the same format this year, a family-style show for those 12 and older, he said.
“It’s a PG show and entertainment for all ages,” Spina said. “Families do want something to do on Marco besides going to the beach, so it works out really great for us.”
What’s unique about his show, Guzzi said, is his audience participates: They are the show, in a sense. He’ll hypnotize about a dozen people at a time.
“Most everyone knows someone on stage,” he said. “There’s very few shows where adults and kids can laugh at the exact same thing at the exact same time.”
Guzzi estimated 80 percent of his audience who attend his show don’t believe hypnosis works. He said they end up being his best advocates because they’ll return to be hypnotized themselves.
“I’ve had people tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘When’s the show going to start,’ and I tell them, ‘Look at your watch, the show is over,’ ” he said, referring to those he’s hypnotized.
Guzzi said he enjoys using hypnosis to help people overcome everything from smoking addictions to post-war stress.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said. “I know I’m doing my part to make the world a better place. It’s not just about me.”
Learn more about Rich Guzzi at www.richguzzi.com.