Mash-up of hypnosis and improv comedy fails to mesmerize in ‘HYPROV’ at Off-Broadway’s Daryl Roth Theatre

Co-created by comedian Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), hypnotist Asad Mecci, and Mochrie’s manager Jeff Andrews in 2016, HYPROV: Improv Under Hypnosis is now playing a twelve-week limited engagement Off-Broadway at the Daryl Roth Theatre, after performing internationally and touring nationally in more than 50 cities. Directed by Stan Zimmerman, the premise of the interactive show is a mash-up of the two genres, in which Mochrie and Mecci enlist volunteers from the audience to delve into their subconscious as they perform a series of improvised comedy sketches while in a hypnotic state, in an experience more apropos of Las Vegas than Off-Broadway.

Asad Mecci and Colin Mochrie. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

The evening begins with definitions of the terms and explanations of the process, after which twenty volunteers from the audience are called up on stage to be hypnotized by Mecci. It’s a long and repetitive segment that offers little entertainment value, as we watch the group methodically cut down to the five he determines to be the most suggestible. Mochrie then enters and the remaining five are selected to join him in four or five themed improvised segments from a pre-determined list, with specific details provided by solicited prompts from the audience. Each night is different, depending on the participants, the sketch list, and the audience suggestions, but the concept that ties it all together remains the same: you never know what will happen either in improv or under hypnosis; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It didn’t for me.

Led by creative consultant Bob Martin, the artistic team provided a suitable ambiance, with an efficient scenic design by Jo Winiarski, and transporting lighting by Jeff Croiter, sound by Walter Trarbach, and original pre-recorded music by Rufus Wainwright, with music direction by John Hilsen. At the performance I attended, the skits ranged from a besotted marriage proposal to the unfunny loss of a beloved family pet, and a noir-style whodunnit radio play. There was also a segment based on the vintage TV show It’s Your Life, with Mochrie interviewing a celebrity guest from the audience and the “HYPROVisers” playing significant people from his past.

Asad Mecci and HYPROVisers. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Call me a skeptic, but the experience left me wondering if the audience was more suggestible than the volunteers (interestingly shown to be the case by Mecci, in a Simon Says-style bit near the beginning). The participants didn’t seem to be under hypnosis but gave me the impression that they were aspiring actors and comics taking the opportunity to appear on the Off-Broadway stage. Two in particular on the night I was there were extremely adept at performing and singing, one even rhyming to the melody and rhythm of the music she supposedly hadn’t ever heard and breaking character by laughing at herself multiple times (which the hypnotist blamed on her fading out of the hypnotic trance). If they weren’t plants, as Mecci and Mochrie insisted, I had the distinct impression that they had seen the show before and were prepared to perform in it – even without being paid as members of the cast.

If you plan to go, and choose to appear on stage, please note that audience members who participate must agree to the HYPROV volunteer waiver.

Running Time: Approximately 95 minutes, without intermission,

HYPROV plays through Sunday, October 30, 2022, at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 East 15th Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $55-185, plus fees), call (212) 239-6200, or go online. All audience members must show proof of full vaccination and masks are required unless actively drinking or on-stage.

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Deb Miller
Deb Miller (PhD, Art History) is the Senior Correspondent and Editor for New York City, where she grew up seeing every show on Broadway. She is an active member of the Outer Critics Circle and served for more than a decade as a Voter, Nominator, and Judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. Outside of her home base in NYC, she has written and lectured extensively on the arts and theater throughout the world (including her many years in Amsterdam, London, and Venice, and her extensive work and personal connections with Andy Warhol and his circle) and previously served as a lead writer for Stage Magazine, Phindie, and Central Voice.


  1. Hyprov was mildly entertaining but definitely not worth $106 a ticket, especially considering that it is now possible to see Hamilton for $79 a ticket. Due to slow sales, TKTS has half-price tickets to every Hyprov show, and if you want to see the show for free, join Club Free Time for $20, and you can get two tickets free to Hyprov with the $3 service charge per ticket. So total cost for two tickets, 26 bucks!


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