Comedian/hypnotist Flip Orley understands what it’s like to be an audience member at his shows. In some ways, he’s in the crowd himself, as he watches his hypnotized volunteers act out.
“I get to watch the things develop and I get a laugh along with the audience with how creative and interesting the audience members are,” Orley says.
Valley residents can get under his spell from Friday, March 27, through Sunday, March 29, when he performs at Stand Up Live in Phoenix. This is a homecoming performance for Orley, who graduated from Central High School, and attended U of A before finishing at ASU.
“It’s always fun for me to come back to Phoenix,” says Orley, who now lives in Louisiana to be with his 10-year-old son. “If it’s not home, it certainly home away from home. It’s a sentimental favorite.”
During his shows, Orley isn’t the type of comic who picks on people for the sake of getting a laugh. He likes his fans to feel like they’re in a safe environment.
“That’s never been my attitude,” he said. “I want my audience to have fun and leave the stage and remember the show. I want them say, ‘That was really fun. I’m glad I did it.’ If they weren’t volunteers, I want them to wonder what they would have felt and how they would have responded.”
Orley has been interested in hypnosis since elementary school, but didn’t start pursuing it heavily until high school and, even more so, in college. At U of A, he took psychology classes and studied hypnosis “anywhere and everywhere” he could. At that point, he was working with students privately to help them improve memory, sleep and grades, or to decrease stress.
“At 18 or 19, I was getting on stage, starting stand-up comedy,” he says. “I was going to school on one hand and doing comedy and doing hypnosis, but not together.”
It was on a dare that he combined the two.
“A guy who I had known and been really good friends with, he was fairly insistent on me trying hypnosis on stage,” he says. “He was pretty persistent. I said to him, ‘If I try it once will you leave me alone?’”
Orley contacted a club and had to convince its owner that he was serious about doing a hypnosis-themed comedy show. He offered Orley a spot during a Monday night open mic night.
“I was surprised that it worked,” he says. “I got volunteers and I was surprised that people came up to me afterward and started offering me jobs for decent money. At the time, I was aggravated that my friend was harassing me, but who knew at the time change the focus of what I wanted to do?”
While his friend was supportive, his parents were less than thrilled. His mom even went so far as saying she wasn’t going to allow it.
“She said it was dangerous and clearly I didn’t know what I was doing,” he recalls. “She said people will get hurt. So, for lack of a better way to explain it, I had to go underground and hide books from my parents.”
While he’s found success as a comedian/hypnotist, Orley says that’s far from his greatest accomplishment.
“My son is the best thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “I love being a parent. There’s no other reason to be in Louisiana, but that’s reason enough.”
Flip Orley, Stand Up Live, 50 W. Jefferson Street, Phoenix, 480.719.6100, various times, Friday, March 27, through Sunday, March 29, $17-$20