By Felicia Naoum
He has been doing this for 25 years. Initially, his talent surfaced in the Brooklyn borough of New York City (with his thick New-Yorker accent, there is no denying where he’s from). But where he has gone since then is all over the world and then some – in a quite fascinating way. He went from class-clown and school trouble-maker to a comedian headliner. As he openly admits, he always loved getting a reaction out of people. Now, he’s getting a reaction out of the world.
He’s been on Access Hollywood and The Artie Lang Show. He has even stopped by TMZ to put his talents to use on TMZ founder Harvey Levin. He certainly stands out, but not in a crowd, because he takes the stage – in one of the most unique ways possible. He performs comedy and hypnosis – together- and claims he’s changing lives while doing it. During Rich Guzzi’s interactive and what he describes as inspirational show, volunteers come to the stage and he does the rest.
Guzzi identifies as a comedian first and foremost. “I was a comedian first. I had a comedy background ahead of time,” he shares. But after seeing a hypnotist and taking a couple of classes, he was inspired to spice up his act and is notably recognized as “a comedian that does hypnosis… not a hypnotist that does comedy.” Let’s make sure we keep that straight.
And, I’m sure we can hear the naysayers now. But they may not be naysayers for long. At least not according to Guzzi. “My skeptics become the biggest fans.”
And his response to the skeptics:
“I would say, come down and see the show.”
Perhaps, the proof is in the pudding. Or in the experiences of others.
Guzzi shares an emotional story about an audience member who once volunteered to be hypnotized. After the experience, Guzzi received a message from the man’s wife thanking Guzzi. Her husband, a military veteran, completely changed his behavior in a positive way. The wife said to Guzzi, “I got my husband back. My kids got their dad back.”
But for some, even an emotionally positive review may not be enough. Guzzi admits that there are still those few in the audience that thinks his act is fluff and want to prove to him that hypnosis doesn’t work. Guzzi describes this typical audience member as a rough-around-the-edge, macho-type-man, with his arms folded thinking to himself, “Oh this is phony baloney.” But once they volunteer, and they sometimes do, Guzzi works his magic.
Most appreciate it, a few have been removed, but the show always goes on.
And how can a comedy show not go on? Don’t we all need a few more laughs in our life?
Rest assured comedy is always the focus with Guzzi.
“It’s a comedy show. People come to the show because it’s comedy. We use that as a tool to show people how this can change their lives.”
When I ask Guzzi if he’s using comedy to mislead folks to come to his show to see the hypnosis side, he doesn’t view it in that way. And technically speaking, the show is marketed as a comedian who does hypnosis.
See, Guzzi is aware that most people probably wouldn’t take well to a hypnosis show. In fact, his thoughts on doing solely a hypnosis show are rather blunt. That’s why, he keeps the overall performance where his roots are – in comedy. “[A] comedy show is very non-threatening; they’d be throwing rocks at me if I went around the country doing hypnosis.”
Guzzi goes on to admit that there is a creepy element to all of this and one he works to avoid. “A lot of hypnotists are portrayed as creepy; we do it in a real funny way.”
Don’t confuse funny with all jokes. There is a far-reaching, more profound message in Guzzi’s performance, whether believable or not. “It’s comedy with a real serious message and people change their lives because of it,” he says.
Although he doesn’t make promises, he is surely confident in his work.
The only guarantee from Guzzi is “laughing really hard [and] seeing friends onstage doing nonsense…”
However, there may be a little more than that according to Guzzi. “I find as you watch the show, people become transformed.”
Again, not everyone may believe him. There are hypnosis naysayers and even career naysayers, but this New Yorker always walked his own path. As for the career naysayers, he didn’t invite them to come see the show (although he probably would now). Instead, he ignored them and got to where he is today – seamlessly. Within 8 months, he transitioned from an opening act to a headliner.
“You make your own luck by working hard and being tenacious,” he says.
And if you do, and you love it, it’s a certified golden life, right? We’ve all heard that saying: “love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Just check with Guzzi. “I love what I do. I don’t feel like I’m working,” he adds.
But even when you don’t feel like you’re working, you must be aware of who you’re working for. Guzzi knows his audience. “In today’s climate, a lot of people have become a lot more sensitive in the last 10 years. You have to play to your audience…”
Guzzi and I spoke of comedians possibly going too far these days. And although Guzzi is taking the stage in a potentially controversial way, his goal is to respect everyone and always choose comedy first.
Specifically speaking, I ask Guzzi his thoughts on Kathy Griffin’s controversial skit regarding President Trump. He thought she went a little too far. “I think we should support the president no matter who he is. Comedy over political statement. I wouldn’t have done it and not because I’m a supporter of anybody, [but] out of pure respect.”
And this respectable man wants the chance to assist you with all your New Year’s resolutions. He says they will be “really attainable” once you see his show December 30 and 31st at Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park.