By David Edward Clark
At 8 p.m., Chuck Milligan, a hypnotist and entertainer for 23 years, will perform in Finney for the orientation crowd. I recommend going; I saw the show during my orientation experience and still recognize a guy on campus as “the Britney Spears kid.”
I had the chance to talk with Chuck over the phone, and he shared some of his background and favorite stories about hypnotizing frat boys and playing match maker.
F+L: How did you get into hypnotism?
Chuck: Well, it actually started off as a hobby. I was a police officer in California for a number of years, and I actually started doing hypnosis as a hobby. It was never supposed to be a job or a career; it was just supposed to be a Monday night bar trick. After five years of being a police officer during the day and being an entertainer at night, I ended up quitting my job as a police officer and going onto the college market and being an entertainer on the college market.
F+L: How do you develop your acts?
Chuck: Sometimes you never know where it’s going to come from. A lot of hypnosis things have been around for years and years and years, and you’ll notice that all the hypnotists out there, they all do “hot,” they all do “cold,” and I do those things too, because they’re standard things that hypnotists do. One of the things with the new routines is you never know what they’re going to come from. My signature routine, which pertains to a little life preserver around the guy’s waist, and he becomes a lifeguard: I was on my way to a university and I walked into a Long’s Drug Store. I saw the life preserver, and I go, “I could do something with that.” I had no idea what I was going to do with it; it was a little life preserver. Between the 15 minutes that I bought it and drove back to the school to do my show, I invented my signature lifeguard routine. It just comes. Sometimes it just hits you in the head, sometimes you get it from other people. You never know where it’s going to come from. I really think that if you just sit down and say, “I’m going to think up a routine right now,” there’s no way you’re going to do it. It’s got to come to you in a flash.
F+L: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever gotten someone to do?
Chuck: I was at a fraternity party at a state college–it was when I was first starting off. I told a guy that he could actually walk across the water on the pool. It worked really well, until he wound up taking the first step off. Then he woke up.
F+L: Alright, now what’s the second craziest thing you’ve gotten someone to do?
Chuck: (Laughs) I don’t know, there’s just so many funny things that go on you just can’t just say ‘what’s the funniest’ or what’s the…
F+L: Then just what are some of your favorite moments from your 23 years of experience?
Chuck: I don’t know if I’ve ever does this routine at Oberlin College, but I have this routine called “Snow White and Dopey,” where I usually have two people who have gone out into the audience, a guy and a girl. And the girl, when I say a certain word, she’s ‘Snow White’ and she’ll jump up and start screaming, “Where’s Dopey? Where’s Dopey?” And the guy across the room will jump up and say, “I’m Dopey, Snow White, here I am!” and they’ll run together and hug each other like Snow White and Dopey just found each other. I did that whole bit at [a] college in Arizona with two kids who did not know each other; it was during orientation. I did the “Snow White and Dopey” routine, and it worked especially well. They started dating. A year later they were engaged, and a year after that they got married.
F+L: I don’t think we can top that one.
Chuck: Yeah, I still have the wedding invitation. And on top of their wedding cake, instead of the bride and the groom, they had the Snow White and the Dopey figures.