Laughternoon, starring Adam London (CLOSED)
Dr. Naughty's X-Rated Hypnotist Show, currently at the Bourbon Street Hotel and Casino. It is a show that has the potential to be very intriguing, but falls short with it's choppiness. So much depends on the volunteer's ability to forgo their control over their minds and allow themselves to give control to another. There is potential here, but on the night I saw it...it just didn't fly.
The show has many things working against it. To begin with, the show is staged in what appears to be a make-shift theatre. One corner of the casino has been curtained off, and inside is a raised stage, some lights, and a sound system. The space seems more like a comedy club than a theatre. Because there is only a curtain separating the show from the casino, the ambient casino noise makes its way inside, and Dr. Naughty never gets the complete silence he demands at critical junctures in the show. Moreover, the noise is a distraction for the audience as well.
A second problem is the pace and flow of the show. By the time Dr. Naughty explains what hypnosis is, cajoles twelve members of the audience to volunteer for the show, explains how he is going to put them under, and then finally does so, forty-five minutes have elapsed before any X-rated hypnosis occurs. Once the show begins, however, it stops and starts as the volunteers are put to sleep and set-ups are explained. The show never gets a chance to establish any kind of rhythm or pace, and the audience never gets a chance to get caught up in the action.
The third problem is one of personal bias. I have never liked hypnotist acts, and while I try to bring a tabula rasa to any show I intend to review, I have always considered the idea of exploiting a person's subconscious for entertainment purposes rather crass. True, the people who get up on stage do so on their own volition, but once they are "under," there is a kind of puppets/puppeteer relationship between the volunteers and the hypnotist. If they truly are in a highly suggestible state, the issue of free will becomes pretty shaky.
To get volunteers up on stage, Dr. Naughty promises that nothing the volunteers do on stage would be embarrassing to them. If this were the case, I wondered, then how could the show live up to its title? I suppose embarrassment is a subjective concept, but if that were me up there, I would have been plenty embarrassed. Dr. Naughty's act has a Bacchanalian tone, primarily focusing on drinking and sex. Once the volunteers are under, he tells them that they are "drunk and horny." He then asks them how they are feeling and they reply, "really good," or words to that effect. He then tells them that they are "ten times drunker and fifty times hornier," presumably hoping, as I was, that the resulting drunkenness and horniness would be proportionally more entertaining. For the show I attended, it wasn't. It was difficult for me to tell whether the volunteers were responding to him simply because they were told to, or if they really were under the good doctor's spell. There didn't seem to be any sense of spontaneity on the part of the volunteers that would suggest the latter.
The truly X-rated portion of the show occurs when his assistant brings out props: a dildo, a blow-up doll, and a blow-up sheep. It was at this point that the audience responded the most enthusiastically, but because of the reasons mentioned above, the show was unable to build on the energy of that moment.
To conclude the show, he gives some of the volunteers post-hypnotic suggestions. One woman was told that when she heard a certain phrase, a rat would crawl up her leg. A man was told to shout the praises of the show when he heard a different phrase. Dr. Naughty went two for three in that area.
The difficulty of a hypnosis show is that there are many more uncontrolled variables than in a standard cabaret show or large production. Some nights might be more successful than others, depending on the quality of the volunteers. It may be that I caught Dr. Naughty on an off night. Official Web Site for Laughternoon, starring Adam London