|Tom Deluca Brings Out Inner Britney in
by Kate Antognini
Would 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.
Deluca’s 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 show’s success should be given to
Oberlin’s talented theater department instead of Deluca
“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 NBC’s “Dateline,” has
been college-hopping with his act for several years and is
accustomed to facing some ridicule.
“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 lapped up.
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…go 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
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.
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 hypnotist’s snapping fingers. “I have to stop
the show,” Joseph announced grabbing the mic. “It’s all fake…we
rehearsed this for two months on the roof of Wilder.” Deluca snapped
his fingers again and Joseph embraced the man. “You’re just so
talented…I worship you,” he exclaimed.
Joseph said that he wasn’t
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 you’ve 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 show’s validity, almost
everyone found it a highly entertaining experience. “There was some
really funny stuff that went down, and I’m not going to look at
these people the same,” sophomore Krista Jahn said.
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 you’ll be able to study
better, longer and remember what you read three times as well,” he