Deluca Brings Out Inner Britney in Obies
by Kate Antognini
you jiggle your parts like Britney Spears, gracefully pirouette
and twirl across a stage to Tchaikovsky or listen to Rob Zombie
from your shoe in front of hundreds of Obies, unless brainwashed
into doing so? Maybe, if you wanted to impress fellow students with
your outrageous acting skills.
Although Tom Delucas hypnosis routine on Monday night at the
Cat was absolutely hilarious, at times it was almost too funny to
seem believable. And many volunteers were smirking and giggling
when Deluca had his back turned. Perhaps, credit for the shows
success should be given to Oberlins talented theater department
instead of Deluca himself.
I came [to the show] without having much faith in hypnosis,
first-year Jyoti Bhatt said, who left the show unconvinced but with
a smile on her face. I think it [was] a bunch of people who
tried to do an act just like a comedy routine
a lot of them
are attention sluts.
Deluca, a widely popular hypnotist and entertainer recently featured
on an episode of NBCs Dateline, has been college-hopping
with his act for several years and is accustomed to facing some
I like the fact that [critics] are just out about it because
it makes a difference when they see that it is real, Deluca,
who has a Masters degree in psychology, said before performing.
His show proved to be a wild and entertaining mixture of wonder
and comedy free of stereotypical chicken clucking or dog barking,
but full of exhibits of peer humiliation that the audience hungrily
Wearing a slick, talk show host outfit, Deluca loosened up the crowd
with a slightly amusing comedy bit about Ms. Cleo, the recently
defamed television psychic. Then, he selected a handful of eager
students as his guinea pigs. Turning his back to the audience, he
breathlessly repeated a familiar refrain to them: Relax
deeper, deeper into your imagination, way, way down, sounding
like the ill-fated job-hypnotist from the work-sucks movie Office
Although his powers of hypnosis may be doubted, Deluca certainly
succeeded in relaxing his volunteers. Maybe some were just sleep-deprived
from pulling all-nighters on Sunday studying for midterms, but whatever
the reason, almost immediately jaws dropped limply, tongues flopped
out and the dazed students took on the expression of content, dozing
dogs. Some fell into such a deep sleep that they slipped from their
chairs and had to be ushered off the stage.
The funniest part of the show was an identity costume party of sorts
in which Deluca had volunteers assume hilarious roles at certain
cues. One student became a natural Britney Spears, shamelessly bouncing
about the stage to Oops
I Did it Again as the audience
cheered him on. Another turned into a fruit-rights activist,
sensitive to the feelings of bananas and apples. Apparently horrified
at the sight of Deluca biting into a green granny apple, the student
rescued the injured fruit and cradled it in his arms. Fruits
are like human beings, man, he said gravely. Yet another student
was made to believe that he was missing his posterior, and, when
he realized what was lacking, immediately lunged for a pair of cheeks
that were not his own.
Inevitably, the stars and divas of the show emerged and painted
the stage with their personalities. One standout was junior theater
and philosophy major Channing Joseph, who alternately praised and
ridiculed Deluca at the command of the hypnotists snapping
fingers. I have to stop the show, Joseph announced grabbing
the mic. Its all fake
we rehearsed this for two
months on the roof of Wilder. Deluca snapped his fingers again
and Joseph embraced the man. Youre just so talented
worship you, he exclaimed.
Joseph said that he wasnt simply acting. You just become
totally tuned into what [the hypnotist] is saying to the point where
nothing else is in your mind. So you just do whatever youve
been told to. He added that in a normal state he might not
have gone as far as he did on stage. I feel really embarrassed
right now, he said.
Although there was some disagreement among students about the shows
validity, almost everyone found it a highly entertaining experience.
There was some really funny stuff that went down, and Im
not going to look at these people the same, sophomore Krista
Before exiting the stage, Deluca put his volunteers under a trance
one last time, giving them a treat that members of the audience
surely craved: In the coming weeks or months youll be
able to study better, longer and remember what you read three times
as well, he promised them.