Matt Dawson's audience goes on a "vacation for the mind" tonight, when the Louisiana-born comedian-turned-hypnotist puts them under his spell during his second annual comedy show in Amherst. His shtick is simple: He makes volunteers chill with the soothing sound of his voice. "I teach them how to relax and achieve this focused level of concentration in just a matter of minutes," says Dawson. "I'm the guide, but they're the ones that do the work."Dawson has hypnotized audiences throughout the Midwest for nearly a decade. He also occasionally fills in for fellow spell-caster Dr. Scott Lewis at Las Vegas' Riviera Hotel and Casino. But unlike some hypnotists, who make their subjects act like fools, Dawson promises his routine is "neither absurd nor inappropriate." "I give people a situation, and then I allow them to react with their friends and families," he says. "Sometimes, you have the stereotype where they're clucking like chickens and barking like dogs. But I won't have anyone cursing or thinking that they're dancing naked onstage."To the layperson, says Dawson, a state of hypnosis is often undetected. But a seasoned hypnotist knows he's done his job when a volunteer's body temperature rises and cheeks become flush. Sometimes, the person's eyelids rapidly flutter and his breathing rate slows down before Dawson snaps him back to the real world. "It's like daydreaming or sleepwalking, in that many of us experience that state of mind every day," says Dawson. "You'd be surprised how much the subconscious mind takes over and does the work for you." The show starts at 6 tonight at the Marion L. Steele High School Cafetorium, 450 Washington Street in Amherst. Tickets are $7. Call 440-988-4433 or visit www.amherst.k12.oh.us.
Thu., Jan. 17, 6 p.m., 2008
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