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This article was prepared for the October 6, 2004
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Hypnotic Comedy: Volunteers Welcome
There were requests for refunds at Ricky Kalmon’s first professional
appearance as a magician. He was eight, and was charging friends and
neighbors a nickel. By the time he was 10, Kalmon had improved enough
to pull in paying gigs at birthday parties. Within another few years
he had added hypnosis to his shows, and had begun to bill himself as a
Kalmon brings his show, which relies heavily on audience
participation, to the Stress Factory in New Brunswick from Thursday,
October 7, through Sunday, October 10.
Speaking from his office in St. Louis, Missouri, Kalmon says he has
been hooked on magic — and on performing — since the age of five, when
a magician performed at his birthday party. “I’ve never had another
job,” he says.
Kalmon grew up in St. Louis, where his parents, both of them
salespeople, supported his early career choice. He studied education
at the University of Missouri (Class of 1991), but says he frequently
skipped class to perform.
He added hypnosis to his show, he says, because “after a while with
magic, it’s the same trick.” With hypnosis, however, the same
suggestion — perhaps “you’re a sumo wrestler who speaks no English” or
“these napkins are $100 bills” — given to five different people is
likely to elicit five very different responses. Kalmon is a certified
hypnotist, but does not use the technique in a clinical sense.
Instead, he sees it as a tool that frees people to think and act
without the everyday constraints that define most of life. “No one is
asleep or unconscious,” he says. “They’re just so relaxed that they
are no longer judging themselves.”
Kalmon spends the first five to ten minutes of his hourlong shows
persuading his audiences that, yes, they really do want to volunteer
to come up on stage and be hypnotized. He takes approximiately 12
volunteers, but invites the entire audience to “go under” too. He then
invites them to come up on the stage, too. Whether they are in a
hypnotic trance or not, everyone is likely to participate. “I often
send some of the volunteers back into the audience,” he explains.
There they try to engage those around them.
Kalmon’s show at the Stress Factory will feature adult — “HBO-type” —
material but he also does family shows. The bulk of his work, however,
is done neither for comedy club patrons nor families. “I’ve scaled
back,” he says. “I don’t do many public appearances anymore. About 70
percent of my clients are corporations.” The experience of being
hypotized together is great for building comraderie among the troops
and promotes creative thinking, in his opinion. “It’s a great ice
breaker,” he says. “It’s not about me; it’s about them becoming the
It is impossible to predict what will happen during Kalmon’s upcoming
shows at the Stress Factory. “You never know where to look,” he says
Brunswick; Thursday through Sunday, October 7 – 10. $22. 732-545-4242
or visit www.stressfactory.com. For a preview, visit
Cheng/Ferrara Productions seeks actors for “The Last Five Years” to be
produced in January at Kelsey Theater. Auditions are Saturday and
Sunday, October 16 and 17. Call Frank Ferrara at 609-499-1388 for
Dance Conservatory seeks singers, dancers, and actors over the age of
6 for “A Christmas Carol” to be performed in December. Audition is
Sunday, October 17, 6 p.m. at Vermillion Square, 8919 New Falls Road,
Levittown, PA. Call 215-946-0100 for information or to set up a
Kelsey Players seeks actors ages 8 and older for “‘Twas the Night
Before Christmas” to be produced in December. Audition at Kelsey
Theater is Saturday, November 6, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call Lorraine Wargo
Jacobs Music Company has been instrumental in the inaugural leg of the
Peace Piano’s three-year tour through the United States, Europe,
Africa, Asia, and Australia, being in Philadelphia. The campaign
supports UNICEF and raises awareness and funds for children in need
around the world. The piano will be at the Kimmel Center for a “Play
for Peace Perform-a-thon during which hundreds of children from
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware showcase. The piano will be at
the Trenton War Memorial on Saturday, October 30. Call Tim Cifelli at
Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper calls for entries for
the 18th annual two-week residency program for New Jersey artists
working in any medium. Deadline is Monday, November 8. For information
visit www.masongross.rutgers.edu or call 732-932-2222, ext. 838.
Art First! seeks works from artists with disabilities for the annual
international juried exhibition and sale held March 7 through April
15, 2005, sponsored by the Auxiliary of University Medical Center of
Princeton. All work must be for sale and must have been executed since
the onset of disability or injury. Oils, watercolors, pastels,
sculptures, photography, jewelry, fiber art, and fine crafts are
invited. Slides must be submitted by Friday, November 5. Call Lois
Levy at 609-497-4211 for information.
Focus on Sculpture 2005 is a juried photography exhibition of images
with the common theme of sculpture. Open to serious amateur
photographers 18 years and older. Limited to two per person. No entry
fees. Photojournalist Bryan Grigsby is the jurer. All photographs must
include sculpture, must be suitably framed with glass or plexiglass
and ready to hang. Entry labels must be affixed to the back of works.
Hand delivery is expected on Saturday December 4, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Grounds for Sculpture, Domestic Arts Building, 18 Fairgrounds Road,
Hamilton. Call 609-586-0616 ext 18 for information.
Villagers Theater is accepting submissions of small musicals and
one-act plays from directors for its 2005 to 2006 Black Box Series.
Directors should submit the title, author, and a brief synopsis of
each play to be considered, a current resume, references, and
availability from September, 2005 to July, 2006. Deadline is
Wednesday, December 29. Visit www.villagerstheatre.com for information
or send to Stephanie Youngman, The Villagers Theater, Box 6175,
Somerset, New Jersey 08875.
Garden State Wood Bat League has openings in upcoming tournament for
ages 14 and up. Visit www.gardenstatebaseball.com or call
Princeton YMCA seeks children ages 5 to 18 for the Piranhas swim team.
Call 609-497-9622 for information.
GNC is distributing a woman’s health guide focusing on early detection
and prevention of breast cancer in participating stores. In addition,
all customers who wear a pink ribbon to stores on Friday, October 15,
(National Mammogram Day) receive a discount on their purchase.
Long & Foster Companies offers college $1,000 scholarships to 200
students with the money payable directly to the college in the
student’s name. Criteria include a 3.0 GPA, be in leadership
positions, and have a financial need. Applications are available at
www.longandfoster.com/scholarship or at any of the sales offices.
Deadline: March 1, 2005.
New Jersey Film Festival screenings are Fridays through Sunday in
Scott Hall, Room 123, Rutgers College Avenue campus, near the corner
of College Avenue and Hamilton Street. Thursday screenings are in
Loree Hall 024, Douglass College campus, near the corner of Nichol
Avenue and George Street. Admission $6; all programs begin at 7 p.m.
Information 732-932-8482 or www.njfilmfest.com.
Experimental Films by Sidney Peterson. Three rarely-seen films by
Sidney Peterson, the originator of American avant-garde cinema, made
while working for Walt Disney Studios. Films include “The Petrified
Dog,” 1948; “Alice in Wonderland: The Lead Shoes,” 1949; and “Mr
Frenhofer and the Minotaur,” 1949. Thursday, October 7.
Strayed. A film about survival in France circa 1940. Directed by
Andrew Techine (2004). In French with subtitles. Friday, Saturday and
Sunday, October 8, 9, and 10. 7 p.m.
Last Year at Marienbad. A key film in the development of cinematic
modernism. Directed by Alain Resnais. (1961). French with subtitles.
Thursday, October 14.
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