If you’re in the audience watching Kevin Wolfe, magician and hypnotist, chances are you’re going to laugh and be amazed.
Wolfe is a certified hypnotist and he’s bringing his comedy hypnosis back to the Kitsap County Fair, Aug. 24-27.
As in the past, Wolfe plans to bring someone out of the audience and hypnotize them on stage while others watch. Then he’ll get them to do humorous things like dance and sing by just making suggestions or by asking them questions.
So, how does he picks his “victims?”
“Sometimes people will come up to me before the show and ask,” he said. “I try to get people who raise their hands or who are really excited. They have to be 100 percent willing or it won’t work.”
Wolfe, who had a hypnosis practice in Silverdale for a time, learned hypnosis when he was young.
“I was about 13 when I did it the first time,” he said. “I read some books on it and then I did it on my schoolmates. The first time it worked, I was just as surprised. I kept wanting to say ‘Open your eyes!’ I was afraid he wasn’t going to come out of it.”
But that’s never happened, and as he got better at it, he became more confident.
His first love was magic.
“I was about 6 years old when my uncle came over and did a magic trick where you cut off your finger,” he said. “He wanted to try it on me, but I was scared.”
That having sparked his interest, he got a Presto Magic Kit for Christmas the next year. He did his first show at age 13.
“I’ve never had a ‘real job’ since,” he said.
He began a list of goals, including performing on big stages, being on television, meeting David Copperfield, and opening for bands like the Jefferson Starship.
They’ve all been fulfilled.
“David Copperfield picked me to come up on stage,” he said. “I was only about 16 years old. But I guess he liked how I looked because he hired me to design illusions and perform with him. I went on the road with in. But I got worn out.
“I guess that wasn’t a great decision because now he’s worth about $18 million, and I’m only worth about half that,” Wolfe joked.
In his prime, Wolfe performed about 300 times a year, doing stage shows, fairs, corporate events and high school graduation shows. He’s scaled back, to spend more time with his family, and this year, he’ll do around 200 shows.
He’s done the Kitsap Fair many times, the first was about 20 years ago.
“I’ve done it on and off throughout the years,” he said. “I usually do the Puyallup Fair and I do Blackberry Days in Bremerton.”
He also travels to Eastern Washington and Idaho to perform.
He will do two shows a day at the fair, one afternoon show of about an hour in length, and an evening show that runs 90 minutes.
Wolfe never tries to get somebody to do something that they don’t want to. He tries to get each participant to use their own imagination. But that doesn’t mean his shows become routine.
“Everybody responds differently when under hypnosis,” he said. “They can do something that throws me off guard and then I start laughing.”
He’s had people ask his to do things he won’t do, such as put someone under hypnosis so they will say “yes” to a marriage proposal, or to erase memories.
“When I had an office, people came to me to quit smoking, or lose weight, or have a painless childbirth,” Wolfe said. “Hypnosis isn’t therapy and I respect counselors and psychiatrists too much. That’s not what I do.”
Hypnosis is really “tapping into that portion of the mind” not usually used, he said.
“To an extent, people are in hypnosis all the time, like when they drive down the road and can’t recall what they’ve passed in the last few minute,” he said. “Or when they are watching a movie and they feel as if they’re a character in it. It’s just coming in touch with that place in your mind.”