Hypnotist Chris Jones put on an impressive performance for a nearly packed Sterling R. Church Auditorium in the Sharwan Smith Student Center.
The event was part of a housing-wide activity for students living on campus at 7 p.m. on Jan. 18.
Jones is well-known for hypnotizing “America’s Got Talent” judge Howie Mandel in 2015, but he wasn’t always a hypnotist. His path to studying hypnosis began as a magician in college.
When he discovered that the life of a magician was too rigid for him, he looked to the more fluid routine of a hypnotist. It led him to perform shows at campuses across the country, including a few previous events at Southern Utah University.
For this event, Jones called up a crowd of volunteers from the audience and put many of them to sleep. He left a few awake to ensure those hypnotized didn’t hit their heads or fall out of their chairs.
Guiding the volunteers through their hypnosis, Jones set up several comedic scenarios. Under his instruction, they started simply by showing off their dance moves. Isaac Widdison sang a charismatic rendition of “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys.
Although Widdison was hypnotized, he remembers his performance.
“It felt like I was stuck in a lucid dream, not fully in control of what I did,” Widdison said. “I did musical theatre and stuff in high school, so when he told me that I would be singing, I was ready.”
By the show’s end, the hypnotized volunteers had hidden their friends under chairs, developed new superhero identities of their choosing and attempted to read the minds of those in the audience.
Jones ended the demonstration by telling all the volunteers he was Drake before waking them up. They took pictures with the supposed celebrity, and some were even so inspired by meeting “Drake” that they were moved to tears.
All students were then welcome to take pictures with Jones and ask questions on their way out.
“I like when people say, ‘I was totally skeptical at first,’ and I think it’s cool that I get to show them [it isn’t fake],” Jones said. “It was really fun when I called someone on stage who was not hypnotized, but their reactions to the volunteers were so good. This was a really good show.”
More information about Jones and his path to hypnotism can be found on his website.