- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2001

Comic hypnotist Flip Orley first tested his powers on the playground. He was not seeking to explore the human mind. As a sixth-grade boy, he faced a much greater challenge: getting girls. He purchased "How to Pick Up Girls Through Hypnotism" and tried it on his crush.
"I said something like, 'Come here. Look in my eyes,'" says Mr. Orley, who begins his two-week run at the D.C. Improv on July 17. "She said, 'You're freaking me out and kicked me.'"
He would get better.
After reading books upon books in high school, he finally succeeded. He hypnotized his friend to believe a parakeet was perched on his finger.
The Phoenix native went on to study psychology at the University of Arizona and hypnotism at the Chicago Institute of Hypnotism. In college, he took his act to the stage. Since then, he has been featured on the "Today" show, "Entertainment Tonight" and several talk shows. Now in his 30s (he won't divulge his exact age), he performs about 300 shows throughout the country each year.
His show varies with each audience. He chooses about 20 volunteers to be hypnotized. On average, Mr. Orley says, he succeeds in hypnotizing 40 percent to 60 percent of them.
He starts off easily and then challenges volunteers to open their eyes. When hypnotized, he tells them, they can't do that.
People are perplexed when they are unable to open their eyes, he says. Although they're hypnotized, volunteers are always in touch with reality.
When you are hypnotized, "you are aware. You are not asleep," Mr. Orley says. It is the strong power of suggestion that controls the subject's actions.
After that exercise, volunteers realize hypnotism can work and they "open their minds to more unusual experiences," the hypnotist says.
He makes certain volunteers feel comfortable the entire time.
"It's not a dog-and-pony show," Mr. Orley says. "I let people know exactly what they're in store for. It's fun and entertaining without being mean to anyone."
For safety's sake, he repeats throughout the show, "Do not tell us any personal information."
"I don't want anyone to be onstage and tell us something personal, then go home and fight with their husband or wife," he says.
Instead, the hypnotist reminds volunteers to act from their imaginations.
Mr. Orley has about 30 hours' worth of material. He chooses material based on each audience. One of his favorites is "Holiday Dads." In it, he incorporates images of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy in the act. He then tells his volunteers from the audience, the holiday children, that they are in group therapy.
"Santa Claus' kids say things like, 'My dad never takes me on the sleigh.' The Easter Bunny's kids say, 'He forces us to paint Easter Eggs,'" Mr. Orley says, remembering doozies thought up by past volunteers.
Everybody can be hypnotized, he says. It all depends on a willingness to do funny things onstage. Some people have a "natural desire to get their 15 minutes," the hypnotist says. "Others are more resistant."
He tells of his recent unsuccessful run in Birmingham, Ala., where most of his audiences were resistant.
"The guys would sit down onstage and say, 'C'mon, hypno-boy, put me under,'" Mr. Orley says with his best Southern drawl.
He's not going back to Birmingham, but he says he is "very excited" to be coming to Washington.

WHAT: Hypnotist Flip Orley
WHERE: The D.C. Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW
WHEN: July 17 through 22 and July 24 through 29. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and 10:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays at 8:30 p.m.
TICKETS: $17 Fridays and Saturdays, $15 Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays.
PHONE: 202/296-7008

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