Hilarious hypnotism

Chris Kallio

John Benninghoff, freshman justice studies major, conducts an imaginary orchestra under hypnosis. Hypnotist and Kent State graduate Joshua Seth hypnotized members of the crowd in the Kiva last night. SAM TWAREK | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Joshua Seth returned to Kent State last night for a show of hypnotism and laughs.

The show opened with Seth’s introduction of his work. He showed the audience of 150 people in the Kiva a video of a young Japanese girl who struggled to overcome her phobia of the dentist, but after Seth hypnotized her, she was calm and went through her appointment without Novocain.

In another, also filmed in Japan, he shocks the audience by hypnotizing a group to eat the most delicious meal they could visualize in their minds as they actually feasted on fried beetles and horseflies.

Seth, who grew up in the Kent area, attended Kent State’s experimental programs as a child and graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent.

He has since used his talents as a voice actor for the English versions of Japanese animation films and others, including Akira, Digimon: The Movie and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. As a hypnotist he has traveled the world.

Amy Balsinger, the president of the Anime Society, which hosted last night’s event, said Seth performed at Kent State last year for a similar program.

“We brought him back after last year’s show, which was a real success,” she said.

Seth entered as if he were a rockstar. With 18 volunteers, Seth began his show, instructing the volunteers to enter a sort of zoned-out state.

“Let it go, deeper, deeper, let it go,” he repeated as he tapped their foreheads and pulled on their arms, constantly testing them, removing two who had not fallen into a deep enough zone. Two others left voluntarily.

A young man at the stage-right end, Matt Jordan, a senior at Hoban High School, appeared completely zoned-out and slouched onto the shoulder of the person to his left.

Then the fun began. Seth hypnotized his volunteers to react to the rising heat of the room, then the frigid cold as Jordan, now sitting on the floor, rubbed the leg of the person to his right for warmth. Next, Seth commanded the remaining 14 volunteers to play instruments as the “William Tell Overture” played – they grew in passion and excitement as the music made crescendos.

Among the other activities included pregnant males giving birth with the help of female nurses, running in slow motion to the tune of “Chariots of Fire” and rapping in Japanese. They also drove a dream car to the tune of “SexyBack,” flipped off a truck driver and flirted with the sexy police officer who pulled them over.

Jordan said he didn’t remember much from his experience.

“It was real – no acting,” he said.

Freshman physics major John Baluch said being hypnotized felt strange.

“That was something. It’s like he gets you to stop thinking consciously,” he said.

Sophomore biology major Brittany Brown arguably rapped the best Japanese among her fellow hypnotized performers, even though she said she was skeptical at first.

“Skeptical as hell – that’s why I did it. All I remember is hearing his voice and then waking up on stage,” she said.

Audience member Travis Johns, sophomore advertising major, said he was convinced Brown’s hypnotism was real because “she would have bursted out laughing” if she was pretending, he said.

“People who are skeptical typically think that it’s mind control,” Seth said, after comparing it to the ability we all have to zone out. “The only difference is that I can get them to comply. I say something, they hallucinate – it is real in their mind.”

The experience is attributed to a unique trait of the brain.

“It’s like tripping out,” Seth said. “But without drugs.”

Contact all reporter Chris Kallio at [email protected].