by Adam Cohen. . .
Improv comedian Colin Mochrie (Whose Line is it Anyway) and hypnotist mesmerist Asad Mecci marry their skills to lure volunteer suggestible stooges from an audience into sleepy routines in Hyprov at the Daryl Roth Theater. Though the format is promising, the results are uneven.
We all need a laugh. Do we need laughs from hypnotized audience members who are put into situations like searching for their missing belly buttons; falling in love with Mochrie and wanting to propose; or mourning a giraffe/hippopotamus?
An unweildy portion of the show is devoted to Mecci hypnotizing volunteers as he slowly weeds them out based on their state of relaxation. The entertainment factor of watching people “relax” and pretend to drive cars while being told to maintain their balance is a bit much. It’s a process that – because he speaks in meditation-tape cliches and bizarre cadences suggesting a stoned lothario – I for one found somewhat annoying and definitely unrelaxing.
Amateur night at off-Broadway prices offers mixed results. Asking random audience members to be funny is a risky entertainment strategy. More scenarios played out to the delight of the all too willing crowd on stage and off. It’s all akin to a television talent show without the benefit of judge’s buzzers for audience or cast.
Mochrie gently provokes optimal situations for the subjects to work with him. The best moments are heartfelt and modestly funny. Mochrie offers amused good cheer, as he engineers opportunities for the stooges to be funny from audience suggestions. He sustains a running commentary on the oddity of the event. The theory – that subjects of hypnosis are uniquely open and suggestible, just like the best improvisers – is credible.
Should you wish to go under the potentially hypnotically funny suggestions of an audience, Mochrie and Mecci, then proceed post-haste to the Daryl Roth Theater thru October 30. Tickets and more information at Hyprov.com
Photos: Carol Rosegg