Hypnotist and comedic entertainer Dale K will return to NMU on Friday, Jan. 25. After giving Northern several performances over the past decade, and constant touring all over North America, the 35-year-old Canadian took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk hypnotism and performing with North Wind Features Editor Shane Nyman.
North Wind: As a child, did you know this is what you’d be doing when you grew up?
Dale K: Yeah. I grew up doing magic because my dad was a part-time clown. I was always surrounded by magicians and those kinds of things. In high school, I saw my first hypnotists and that’s when I made the decision.
NW: What type of training or education does becoming a hypnotist require?
DK: I’d suggest if you’re interested in doing what I do, you solidify your information through research and clinical courses that teach you to deal with people who have issues — people that want to quit smoking, lose weight, that kind of thing — that kind of knowledge helps. There are courses online and there are books out there that will teach hypnosis but most of them don’t really give you the information that you need. At that point, you really want to become an apprentice with somebody, to learn the dos and the don’ts.
NW: Did you ever consider a career in clinical hypnotism? Or were you always set on entertaining?
DK: My interest was always in entertainment, but I still do a fair bit of [clinical hypnosis] for special occasions for certain individuals. I don’t promote it too heavily because I just don’t have the time when I’m on the road.
NW: Do you remember the first time you hypnotized somebody?
DK: Yeah, I do. I actually remember better the first time I did my first show where the pressure was on me to be able to do this in front of an audience. It was incredibly stressful until I had the ability to put that first person to sleep, then it all clicked.
NW: What is your life like now? How much touring and performing do you do?
DK: I literally live in airports. I’m on the road for about half the year, from coast to coast, all over Canada and the United States. Most of the work is colleges and universities. I’ve been really well accepted in that market. The rest is corporate events, casinos and then some theaters.
NW: In the simplest way possible, can you describe hypnosis?
DK: Hypnosis is really about stripping away the inhibitions of individuals. When people walk on stage, there’s that immediate effect of stage fright. They get nervous, they clam up, they’re self-conscious. Using different relaxation techniques, you get those people to relax and open up their imagination. That gets to the point where you can feed them all kinds of things — suggesting “It’s getting warm in here,” or suggesting that they’re driving a car, and it’s very easy at that point for them to latch onto those suggestions. A good example is maybe when you were a kid, you’d be laying on the couch, totally focused on watching TV but your mom is in the background saying “Hey Shane, don’t forget to take out the garbage,” and you half-ass answer “Yeah, yeah. I’ll get to that,” but you never do. You acknowledge it but it doesn’t have much of an effect on you.
NW: So those with strongest imaginations work best?
DK: Absolutely. Then it works great for the show because I can push them to further points, if that makes sense.
NW: What are some of the wildest things that have happened during your shows?
DK: In general, I’m always blown away by two things. First, I’m blown away by the skeptics that come to the show and end up on stage. Usually they turn out to be the most hypnotizable people. I love to see that. That actually happened last night. We had two people come up and you could just tell that they were too cool for school and yet it worked really, really well on them.
Secondly, I love hearing people talk when they are under the influence of hypnosis. You just never know what’s going to come out of their mouths, and it’s always funny. In my show, I always try to give the people a lot of opportunity to be verbal. It’s so unpredictable and I like to be entertained as well.
NW: You’ve performed at NMU several times in the past. Do you remember any specific instances of craziness?
DK: All I know is we’ve always had such a great turnout. The show is not only fun for me, but the audience energy is always great. That’s why out of the hundreds of schools I’ve done, your school definitely ranks up there as one of my favorites, because the crowd is just so into it. It’s always a blast there and I’m excited to get back up there this week.
NW: Have you ever found yourself in trouble because of something that went on during your show?
DK: I really care about my career and I care about my volunteers, so ever since I started doing this, I’ve been very respectful of that situation. The only person that’s ever been hurt on stage has been me. I was at a small comedy club and I told a guy that he was a cheerleader and he raised his leg up, hit my elbow and the microphone that was in my hand shoved into my mouth. My bottom tooth went through my lip. It was pretty exciting. The front row got a really good show.
NW: After it’s over, do participants remember what went on?
DK: Absolutely. You can delay that response, but you can’t wipe away memories like that. If anybody leaves that building thinking that they’ve been changed or have lost some of their memory, they’re just making it up from that point on. They’ve been up on stage and in that spotlight, and they don’t want that to stop.
NW: Have you ever been hypnotized?
DK: To be totally honest, only once. It was in a clinical situation. I never got it to work well when I would go up on stage. I think I was just so interested in it and so over-the-top paying attention, it just wouldn’t work for me. Now, I don’t think I could ever do it. I think I’d just sit in that chair and laugh at the hypnotist.
NW: Any final thoughts?
DK: I’m really stoked about coming back up to your school. It really is one of the fun ones that I look forward to on the calendar. The only problem is I wish we didn’t do it when it was so frickin’ cold. I’m Canadian, but I live in Florida now. I get spoiled with the nice weather. Hopefully it won’t be too bad this weekend.