What Some Folks Say About the Show
SAN DIEGO TRIBUNE
By Marcia Manna
Spencer the Hypnotist suggests that Hayley has bugs in her blouse.
Hayley does what anyone would do with a tickly insect trapped
beneath her clothing – she jumps back, pulls her shirt out of her
pants and tries to shake it out.
As the audience begins to giggle, Spencer takes the suggestion to
the next level. The bugs are multiplying and they are starting to bite.
Then ... oh, no ... they are crawling down her body and into her shoes.
In a frenetic dance that would raise James Brown's eyebrows, Hayley
hops, stomps and performs a series of floor slides and spastic arm
gestures that soon has the audience in stitches. The dance comes to
an abrupt end when Spencer makes a sharp click with his tongue
against the microphone.
Hayley immediately returns to “sleep state” and joins the group of
hypnotized volunteers slouched in their chairs. In the next hour, they
will all get their turn in this interactive show that combines comedy,
hypnosis and the colorful imaginations of the participants. Beneath
the conscious mind, a range of unlikely personality traits await, ready
to emerge when Spencer summons them.
Richard, a distinguished-looking salesman of about 50, will become an exotic dancer. Then, he will make the unfortunate decision to remove his shirt and simulate a lap dance, an action one can't help but think that he will one day regret.
Mike, a muscular high school custodian, will assume the flamboyant persona of Richard Simmons before he plays the drums in a famous rock band.
While the song “Rawhide” plays over the loudspeakers, the group of hypnotized volunteers will ride galloping horses in a rodeo, waving imaginary cowboy hats and lassoing unsuspecting farm animals.
The popularity of the Spencer Comedy Hypnosis Show has ensured monthly returns to the Carlsbad Theatre, where folks can participate or watch the outrageous antics on Saturday, June 23, July 28 or Aug. 25.
At the beginning of every performance, Spencer explains how we are often in a self-hypnotic or trance-like state. It's the moment that lingers before sleep, or a time when you are driving down the freeway and speed past the exit, even though you have traveled the same way hundreds of times before.
Though he can make audiences scream with laughter, Spencer takes hypnosis seriously.
“From my point of view, everyone is in a trance,” said the hypnotist, who looks a bit Svengali-like with long black hair, piercing blue eyes and black shirt and pants. “We are all locked into something, whether it's the conviction that 'I can't lose weight,' 'I can't spell' or 'I can't stop smoking.' I take people from their limited belief about themselves to knowing it's possible to change.”
Spencer, now in his 50s, was interested in psychology 20 years ago and studied at Palomar College. But in 1986, when he saw an ad that offered a course in hypnotherapy, he found his niche and never looked back.
At the end of every show, Spencer tells volunteers to find one thing they want to change and he will facilitate that process as a reward for their participation.
“Hypnosis has to do with our ability to be influenced,” Spencer said. “Change occurs on an emotional level. In the military, for instance, they train your mind to think and act differently and kids are often changed for the better. As much fun as I have entertaining, I love it when I look into people's eyes and I see light bulbs go off. They think, 'If he can make people do something so outrageous, what am I doing in my own life that I can change by hypnosis?' That's what I hope to convey and for me, that's the most exciting part.”
Marcia Manna covers North County arts and entertainment for the Union-Tribune.
People Are Talking!"
Oh great! I cant believe you guys actually aired me on channel 2 like that. I'll never hear the end of it now, thats gonna follow me all over the place, I'm a model actor, oh well, i thought it was funny and alot of fun, its amazing how you go under like that.... it feels so soothing and totally relaxes your whole body, feels sooo good, tell Spencer I think he is amazing and he does very well. Spencer is the most intelligent and creative entertainer that i know or have seen. Me and all my friends enjoy having him here in SLC. We all hope you prosper and continue on with this family fun show. The lights and sound are incredible! I tell people if you havent been to Spencer then you need to go, it's the greatest comedy show I've been too, its fun, hip, and will accelerate you... ok i think I've blabbed away enough, you're just awesome and all the people helping you... oh by the way I'm the one in the green/ black shirt..." your customer always, Adam"
I watched the show every Saturday for 4+ months and it was always different and entertaining! I would recomend that everyone go to the show, even though I no longer run the sound!!" Scott, former sound technician"
Spencer, I just saw your show and was completely enthralled. I plan to come back again but this time to come up on stage. Thanks for such an entertaining evening. You were better company than my date!"
Spencer,“Your show is so good, I love it. I think you did something to me because I just can't get enough. Thanks for all the laughs and hope to hear from you soon.
“Spencer, “I haven't laughed that hard since I can't remember when.
”Spencer, “Your show really rocks!
”Spencer, "We've been inviting everyone to come to your show!
"Spencer, “I was at your show tonight and it was awesome! See ya next week....
”Spencer, “I have gone to your show for three consecutive weeks now and I loveit every time I go.”
"Spencer, after attending your last 2 shows, my friends and I have decided that you need to change your name to Spencer, the World's Sexiest Hypnotist. It was outrageously entertaining and we can't wait for the opportunity to come and "sleep" with you again soon.” Sandy Fan Club"
Don Spencer with actress/hypnotist Catherine Hickland
Suddenly, looking for all the world like a rock star with his long, flowing hair, Spencer appears. The piece de resistance of Spencer's show is when he stands on a person’s stomach whose body is suspended rigidly between two chairs."Marsha Baker Salt Lake Tribune Feature Writer“
"Thank s again Spencer for helping to make this years fair a success. Our attendance level has never been so high. Your show is the best I’ve ever seen!" Davis County Fair"
Hello Spencer, Your show was absolutely fantastic tonight, and I can't wait to show my husband the tape, otherwise he will never believe all the things he did! Thanks for an amazing evening!" Rika Rabenau-Taylor eBay
To Whom It May Concern: "A few weeks ago we had a summer picnic for our company and we were looking for some entertainment that would be appropriate fora diverse audience of all ages. We happened upon Spencer, THE HYPNOTIST. He turned our summer party into a great corporate bonding experience that was fun for everyone. Since the party, we have heard nothing butpositive reviews from our employees. Here are some quotes :"I laughed until my cheeks hurt.!" "It was great to see co-workers let their hair down." "I can't wait to see another show!" The bottom line is that you've really got to see it to believe it. I would recommend Spencer, THE HYPNOTIST as fun entertainment for any corporate event, family party or other gathering." Mary Adams, 3Com Corporation
“Spencer spellbound the student body when he hypnotized over 40 people on stage. To say the least, this mesmerizing man is the most talked about person on this campus!” Ann Julian Weber State University“
Our company has a Christmas party each December. This last year we decided to have something different and hired a hypnotist by the name of Spencer. Everyone in the audience was absolutely having the best time and continue to talk about it to this day. If you want to have a fabulous experience, call Spencer, I guarantee you will be thoroughly impressed and entertained!”Susan Taylor, Personnel Mgr. VHPS INC. Book Publishers
“Dear Spencer,"Once again we are contacting you to perform at our annual Chili Cook-Off. You were a smash last year and the year before and we would like you to return again this year. People here just can’t get enough!"Holly Walsh Overthrust Chili Cook-Off
Dear Spencer,“Thank you for your performance at the Alta Industries party. The employees are still talking about it. You were entertaining, energetic, and very funny. We were very happy that we selected you to perform. This is a very important annual event for us with personnel from around the world attending. You made it special. We would definitely recommend you to other groups seeking this type of entertainment.” Robert E. Elkington Vice President, Alta Industries LTD.
Spencer, World's Fastest Hypnotist
By Jennifer Gordon Gray
It's Saturday night at the Avalon Theater in Salt Lake City, and all hell is breaking loose. It's 9 p.m. and Spencer, Master Hypnotist, is his own "World's Fastest Stage Crew." There is only half an hour to set up between a name-brand movie and the greatest show in Utah. It's not quite panic, but it's close.
Pulsating rock and roll music fuels the pre-show energy level. Equipment doesn't appear in place by magic - more like it's thrust into place. Electric cords fly across the grey-painted stage, and metal chairs are arranged into two neat rows. The tension gradually ebbs as Spencer and his sound man Scott find their rhythm. It's just another Saturday night at the Avalon.
"Testing One. Two. Three." Voices chant along with the music as Scott makes sure this hypnotist can be heard perfectly - no doubt he will sometime be heard across America, as is his goal. Spencer's stage presence make the modern-day microphone obsolete.
Props wait in plastic trunks. Silver strobes and multicolored stage lights pierce the dimness of the some 500-seat theater. The Avalon itself has seen better days, yet it maintains a tinge of its old dignity - gold velveteen stage curtains, red fold up seats in frayed cord fabric, a chipped gray concrete floor. It's even said to be haunted, this Avalon Theater. But right now, any ghost in his right mind would be hiding behind the curtain at stage right, staying safely out of the way.
Spencer does an impromptu tap dance, boot heels pounding the wooden stage deck. Through a handless, cordless microphone clipped to his ear, he tells theater owner Art, hovering around the lobby door, that the show will start at 9:30 "on the dot" - even if late comers are still standing in line in the chilly Utah evening. "They have to learn to come on time," he firmly insists.
Spencer is in charge.
Everything is finally set and the audience is let in. They mill around seeking their assigned seats, and then the house lights suddenly die, leaving some audience members stranded in the aisles. Their dark forms hover uncomfortably over those fortunate enough to be seated on the aisle.
A good bit of Spencer's audience is repeat business. They know what to expect. Newcomers, though, have the pleasure of seeing Spencer's show for the first time.
With a burst of silver strobes and a dash of smoke, the man they've come to adore takes the stage. Not much can be seen - the house lights are still black - but it only adds to the mystery. After all, it's nearly Halloween.
"Clasp your hands over your heads," he yells as the crowd raises its arms. He is a dim figure in black leather pants and a knee-length satin brocade coat, maroon. His hair streams black and long over his shoulders. He's in his element; it's his show.
He tells the audience that their hands are still glued together. They can't separate them no matter how hard they try. Some, though, are unbelievers. Their hands break apart, and are rejoined in futility. They won't be among the lucky ones, chosen to be Spencer's partners in this evenings entertainment.
He calls the willing to the front of the stage, "Come quickly, as fast as you can," he encourages, and about 20 race through the aisles, hands still in their uncomfortable embrace. One by one, he takes his victims up on stage and with a shouted "Sleep," they collapse like rag dolls to the floor. He gently makes sure none will hit their heads as they fall. When he's finished with the last one, this group lies slumbering serenely, like kindergarten students on nap mats. He surveys his work with pride. "This is what I like to see," he confides to the rest of us, still awake.
Spencer loves his job, and it shows. He works both the hypnotized and the audience, and has us right where he wants us. Not a large man in stature, he still commands attention better than most. There can be nobody else like him.
That is a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by certain female persons up on the stage. He has implanted a suggestion that those on stage slap their faces whenever they have a "dirty" thought. One young woman, staring at him in obvious lust, slaps herself repeatedly throughout the two-hour show. Her eyes never leave him.
Not just the girl, but all those on stage are willing to do whatever Spencer tells them. They play like puppies, the men waltz with each other, one believes he is invisible. The audience is really digging the whole thing; one blonde woman straight out of Betty Crocker College laughs so hard that she has tears running down her face. Perhaps some are offended by some of the antics and walk out, but the majority don't take life so seriously - they came to have fun, and that is precisely what Spencer is furnishing.
The showman's coup de grace comes near the end of his show, and this night involves the young woman, whose face will surely hurt the next day after so much self-slapping. He convinces her that her body is stiff and rigid, and no matter how hard she tries to relax, it is impossible. When he's sure she's ready, Spencer takes her head and shoulders while a helper takes her feet. They suspend her over two black sawhorses, and she lays unmoving, like an ancient mummy. A cloth is placed over her stomach -
Spencer mounts a chair and clambers aboard. His arms reach out to embrace the audience, and his eyes blaze with the thrill of it all. When she awakens, the girl will remember none of it. But the audience will. They'll be back time and time again, to live in Spencer's magic for just a moment more.
It hasn't always been glamour and glitter for Spencer. At one time, he made his living from hypnosis therapy and teaching. He still offers classes on occasion, and has written numerous on the subject. But it's the stage action he craves now, and the audience that craves him.
When most shows end, spectators usually rise and leave. Not so at the Avalon. When this show concludes,Spencer'S fans surge toward the stage, eager to speak to the master. He patiently greets each person, but those who know him can see the exhaustion in his face. He pours his heart out to his audience, and when he's through, Spencer is spent. It takes him a day or so to recover, he says.
But it's also worth it. By next Saturday, Spencer will return in fine fettle to the Avalon Theater.
It's what he has to do.
'Everyone is in a trance'
. . . of one kind or another – just ask hypnotist
Spencer, whose show is a hit in Carlsbad