What I can do, because I stuck around after Conrad’s show in Ann Arbor a few years ago, is answer two questions I think most people will want to ask afterward. What does it feel like to be hypnotized? And were they really hypnotized, or were they shills?
Several of Conrad’s subjects were also hanging around after the show. They didn’t seem to be shills, unless they were also great Method actors, because they all had complete back-stories about being workmates at the Campus Inn. They remembered being hypnotized—it wasn’t some sort of amnesia-producing trance—and seemed, in a dazed way, to still be processing what they had just done. Several of them spontaneously volunteered this odd detail: it had distorted their perception of time. They had spent an hour onstage, but it seemed to have passed in an instant.
I posed the shill question to Conrad. His answer: “A woman said to me the other day: ‘I know you pay them.’ I said, ‘Okay, how much would I have to pay you to get up there? Five hundred bucks?’ Now, I got ten people up there—at five hundred bucks per person? It doesn’t make sense, does it?” Yep, probably easier to just use hypnosis.