Eastpointe, Royal OakMay 9, 2014
Eastpointe native, Vegas headliner returns for hypnosis stage show
By Kevin Bunch
C & G Staff Writer
ROYAL OAK — The Comedy Castle will be playing host to Kevin Lepine’s comedy hypnosis show May 19, as the former Eastpointe resident returns to Michigan from Las Vegas.
Lepine, a 1993 graduate of East Detroit High School, said his “uncensored comedy hypnosis show” sees volunteers brought up on stage, put under hypnosis, and asked to do various things, from fighting over a dollar bill that is really a napkin, to thinking they are rock stars.
“It’s an adult show,” he said. “No one ever gets embarrassed or humiliated. I don’t make any person the butt of the joke.”
This is not the first time Lepine has performed at the Comedy Castle. It actually was one of the first places he had a show, back when he was 18 and just starting out.
Lepine said he started in entertainment while he was still in high school, participating in all of East Detroit’s plays and working for an entertainment company out of Dearborn doing “everything from costume changes to magic.” It was the magic that really hooked him, he said, and at the age of 18, he decided to try for the open mic night at Comedy Castle, where his heroes performed.
“This was when it was 21-and-over,” he said. “I called them, somehow I got (owner Mark Ridley) on the phone. I explained that I’m 18 and want to get into comedy, and he told me, ‘Here’s the deal: If you drink in my club, you’re never allowed in again.’ It was my first opportunity to sit with comics and learn about comic timing.”
Ridley said he remembered when Lepine was starting out and that the focus on hypnotism came over time.
“I remember when Kevin started out, he focused primarily on his magic, and as time went on, he told me he was doing hypnosis and wanted to bring it to Comedy Castle,” Ridley said. “We gave it a night, and it went over very well. He has a good connection with his audience and fully entertains them.”
Local community members, such as former Eastpointe Mayor Harvey Curley, helped Lepine learn the business side of things, as well, and got him gigs with the city government and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, program.
“When you’re 16 or 17 years old and people are teaching you about networking, how to reach out, and giving you advice … they couldn’t tell me how to advance as a performer, but as a professional, these are the people that showed me the business side of things, which allowed me to grow,” Lepine said.
At the age of 20, Lepine said, he started working with hypnotists, became a certified hypnotherapist himself, and “never looked back.” He explained hypnotism as a state of relaxation mixed with a bit of concentration and imagination, and it is something people fall into naturally.
“We’ve all passed through a state of hypnosis,” he said. “That moment when you’re laying in bed and jump up because you felt like you’re falling? You weren’t really falling, but your body felt like it was and your mind acted like it. Your mind latched onto an idea and acted like it was real.”
Another example is “driving hypnosis,” where someone is driving down a highway and notices that they just drove several miles and did not realize it, yet were still concentrating on the road, Lepine said.
If a person goes to see a hypnotherapist and is told to act like singer Britney Spears, Lepine said it would just wake the person because it was not expected; but from an entertainment session like his show, a volunteer would be more amenable to that suggestion.
Lepine said he worked out of New Orleans for a few years, but he has found himself doing shows in all 50 states since then, as well as European locations, before taking on a six-nights-a-week gig with the Hooters Casino Hotel in Las Vegas a few years ago.
While still living around Detroit, Lepine had one of his favorite experiences in his career — he said he performed in front of an indescribably beautiful 400-seat amphitheater in the Puerto Rican rainforest.
“I’m landing in Detroit, I’m at the top of the world, and then my phone goes off and it’s my friend Randy,” Lepine said. “He’s sick as a dog, and he’s begging me to do card tricks at a Pizza Hut because he’s sick. I told him that I don’t do that anymore, but he said, ‘Six years ago, you were begging for gigs like this.’ So after coming back from the rainforest, I’m doing card tricks for kids who don’t even care.”
Living in Las Vegas now, Lepine said his current schedule does not leave much time for gigs outside Nevada, but when he has the chance, he still likes to do shows at the Comedy Castle, hopping a redeye flight to Michigan to do a show on his day off and visit with friends and family before heading back.
Ridley said he tends to watch the shows and see how the audience reacts to what is happening on stage — how much they like what they see and hear. He said it’s very important to see how a performer develops his or her own voice and presence for the audience, which is something that only happens with experience. Lepine, he said, has a pretty good fan following.
“I try to bring Kevin in once or twice a year to keep it fresh,” Ridley said. “It seems to be working, since he’s getting close to selling out the room on a weeknight.”
When not performing, he said he enjoys watching the long-running British TV series “Doctor Who” and checking out the new shows or restaurants in Las Vegas.
“Out here, boredom is a choice,” Lepine said. “There are nights you choose to sit home and do nothing because you’re feeling burnt out, but I definitely have things to do in Vegas.”
Lepine’s show at the Comedy Castle starts at 8 p.m. May 19 and is open to people age 18 and older. Tickets are $15 and are available at www.comedycastle.com. People need to be able to print out their own ticket, or call the club at (248) 542-9900.