Ready to go under for some laughs?

Apr 14 2011 - 6:27pm

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NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
Comedian and hypnotist Shawn Paulsen interacts with the audience at Wiseguys Comedy Club during a March performance in Ogden.
 NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
Volunteers are hypnotized on stage during a March performance by comedian and hypnotist Shawn Paulsen at Wiseguys Comedy Club in Ogden.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
Comedian and hypnotist Shawn Paulsen interacts with the audience at Wiseguys Comedy Club during a March performance in Ogden.
 NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
Volunteers are hypnotized on stage during a March performance by comedian and hypnotist Shawn Paulsen at Wiseguys Comedy Club in Ogden.

Shawn Paulsen was a cop who just couldn't stop joking around.

Between the wisecracks and messing with people, he knew he needed a different career.

"Basically, I never fit the profile of a cop because I don't like coffee or doughnuts and I kind of made jokes at everything. I wasn't really serious," said Paulsen, of Roy, in an interview in advance of four shows next weekend at Ogden's Wiseguys Comedy Club. "I guess I have always been the joker or the class clown."

It was his sister who told him to try his talents onstage. He ended up meeting owner Keith Stubbs at the old Laffs comedy club in Ogden and began performing at open-mic nights.

Comedy became that new career -- he ended up a co-owner of Laffs.

There, he grew as a comedian while booking talent to come into Ogden. Then his life took another change.

"I had a hypnotist come into the club and I just fell in love with it at that point," Paulsen said.

He approached Stubbs for advice on whether to adopt the hypnotist's ways and got an emphatic yes.

"Actually, it was easy for me," said Paulsen. "For whatever reason, it seems to be that was a calling, I guess you can call it. It seemed like something that just came natural to me.

"It fits. It's perfect. So I started doing hypnosis instead of stand-up."

Fakers and hecklers

Paulsen attends hours of classes every year to be a certified hypnotist. He uses hypnosis in therapy as well.

Through his continuing training, Paulsen says, he has perfected the art of spotting a faker -- one who pretends to be hypnotized onstage.

"Yeah, we get people who try all the time," Paulsen said. "We are trained pretty well to find them and weed them out. So we will pretty much kick them offstage."

Comedy hypnosis has provided him with an advantage over stand-up comedians -- in dealing with hecklers.

To begin with, audience members who would like to be a part of the show volunteer to be hypnotized. So, some of the usual hecklers might be onstage.

"If we do get hecklers, then I have the people onstage go and kind of take care of them. We can embarrass the heckler with someone up on stage," Paulsen said.

Volunteers are easy to recruit when he performs at comedy clubs or at his usual fall stint at Frightmares at Lagoon.

"We do have repeat volunteers every once in a while," Paulsen said. "Because they loved it and they will come back and do it again. We call them hypno-junkies."

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