By Marion Filler
If you are in the vicinity of Morristown High School on New Year’s Eve, Mr. Hypno would love to see you.
Stephen Christopher, a.k.a. Mr. Hypno, is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at this 2019 edition of First Night Morris.
A magician for 20 years before becoming a full-time hypnotist, he has been entertaining audiences with this special talent for the last decade.
“I saw a hypnotist at a fair and was so intrigued that I thought I had to learn more about it,” says Christopher.
His act reflects the eclectic mix that has made First Night Morris so irresistible for 26 years.
This 27th installment features more than 100 top artists and 81 events at 23 venues, all within an easy walk or free shuttle bus ride. This festive evening, which includes fireworks at 9:15 pm and midnight, is organized by Morris Arts.
After reading a few books, Christopher enrolled in a course at the National Guild of Hypnotists to become certified by that organization.
Technically speaking, he is not a clinical hypnotist — that requires a masters degree.
“Stage hypnotists are considered to be entertainers, and I am a Stage Hypnotist/Entertainer for over 10 years. As a ‘Hypno Coach,’ I work with people one-on-one and in groups and workshops to make positive changes in their lives.”
He remains as fascinated as ever by what he has learned.
“Hypnosis can help to take back control of things that may be out of control. It helps make a shift from that subconscious mind and re-program it to change (a bad) habit using willpower.”
Some people are better candidates than others, says Christopher. The optimal ones have a good imagination. His lemon test is a favorite.
“I ask them to close their eyes and imagine that they are holding a lemon in their hand. I tell them the lemon is cut in half and juice is dripping out, and then I ask them to imagine biting into the lemon.”
If facial expression changes and they salivate, he has hit pay dirt.
“People who can have an actual physical reaction are really the best,” Christopher says.
Christopher recalls helping a fearful public speaker regain his confidence, and how a man who was afraid to take a cruise now can’t wait to travel.
His favorite tale about Buddy Valastro ( a.k.a. the Cake Boss on TLC), who baked a huge cake for a helicopter tour company. All the cast members, including Mauro Castano, a fixture on the show, then were supposed to fly over Manhattan.
Castano was afraid. But after showing him a simple technique, “We saw his fear rating go from an intense 10 down to a manageable 3 or 4,” Christopher says. “If you check Cake Boss episode Helicopter and Hypnosis, you can see him leaning out of the side of the helicopter saying ‘Look, no hands.’ Amazing.”
What should visitors expect at First Night Morris?
“The first thing I do is tell them what hypnotism is and what is isn’t. It isn’t mind control,” Christopher promises.
He invites the audience to participate in some mind power exercises that are fun.
“I show them how to use the power of their imagination in the real world.”
A dozen or so volunteers are recruited from the audience to get hypnotized.
“They become the stars of the show,” says Christopher. “When the show is over, they are feeling wonderful and energized and knowing they had a great time.”
In other words, make sure your smartphone battery is well charged, and your video hand is steady!
The high school is at 50 Early St., where Mr. Hypno will perform at 9:45 pm and 10:45 pm.
First Night Morris starts at 4:45 pm on New Year’s Eve and concludes with midnight fireworks over the Morristown Green. One admission badge gets you into as many performances as you can manage. Badges are $25, or $90 for a four-pack. They may be purchased online line or at the Mayo Performing Arts Center box office at 100 South St., (973) 539-8008. Parking will be free at municipal lots in Morristown. MorristownGreen.com is a proud supporter of First Night Morris.