“Hyprov” at Harrah’s Does the Impossible, Sadly Not Well

Just in case the cast or crew of “Hyprov” stumble upon this story, we’re going to start out by saying this new show at Harrah’s takes on an impossible task: Mix hypnosis with improvisation.

We were impressed by the creativity of the concept, and ads for the show feature its creator, the incredibly talented Colin Mochrie of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” fame.

If you’re in the cast or crew, please stop reading here. Putting on a show is hard, and it’s a great accomplishment to have done so. We are begging you to not read anything after the photo, below. Don’t worry, most people won’t, people skim on the Internet! Just keep doing what you do and remember, the person writing this is probably just jealous of your talent and success. In the words of Babe Ruth, “The loudest boos come from the cheapest seats.”

If you’re feeling sleepy, it’s because “Hyprov” distributes Melatonin rather than show programs. This caption is technically after the photo. We told you to stop reading!

So, yeah, we really miss comedy-hypnotists Anthony Cools and Marc Savard.

Las Vegas has been home to some of the best comedy-hypnosis shows in the world. “Hyprov” isn’t that.

First, the name is terrible. It’s pronounced “hip-rawv.” How bad is the show name? The folks at “Hyprov” know the name is confusing, so they spell is phonetically on their Web site. Why would you name a show something you know everyone is going to mispronounce?

Next, using Colin Mochrie in promoting this show is a shady bait-and-switch. Mochrie is one of the most gifted short-form improvisers around, but he’s not in the show at Harrah’s. That, friends, is what’s known as a scam.

Or possibly sham. Pick one.

False advertising isn’t funny.

Here’s the lowdown.

The hypnotist in the show is Asad Mecci. He seems to know hypnotism, but he’s not a comedy-hypnotist. He hypnotizes audience members (starting with 20 volunteers and narrowing it down to four) and sort of hands them off to the main improviser.

About 45 minutes of the 90-minute “Hyprov” show is watching people be hypnotized. It’s sort of like watching paint dry, except after paint dries, something has actually been accomplished.

The show did accomplish its task of lulling people into a deep state of sleep, but we’re pretty sure that isn’t supposed to happen to both the audience and volunteers.

The “Hyprov” Web site lists Colin Mochrie, Stephanie Courtney, Jonathan Mangum, Barrett Foa and Jeff Hiller as the show’s featured improvisers. Exactly none of those people were in the show.

Amber Nash was the improviser, and she was likeable and charming and a good talker, an important quality for an improviser. She’s best known for her voice work as Pam Poovey in “Archer,” an animated comedy series on FX. Important detail: “Archer” is a scripted animated series.

Nash wasn’t particularly funny, though, which begs the question: Who’s in charge of the comedy in a comedy-hypnosis-improv show if it’s not the hypnotist or improviser?

The answer: Audience members. Risky business.

Anthony Cools and Marc Savard are the stars of their shows. They’re talented comedians who use hypnosis to loosen people up so they do silly things the stars can amplify or ridicule in a good-natured way.

“Hyprov” is a Hail Mary, hoping against hope regular people will magically become entertaining because hypnosis will lower their inhibitions and somehow help them tap into some hidden improvisational talent.

Actual improv performers should be fairly insulted by the whole concept.

“Hyprov” is a hybrid of two different kinds of entertainment, but it brings together the most cringeworthy elements of each.

“Hyprov” is not only the worst hypnosis show we’ve ever seen, it’s also the worst improv show we’ve ever seen. And there’s quite a bit of bad improv out there.

We should know, we performed improv at Bourbon Street. The former casino-slash-dive. You know the one. The one that was demolished after we performed improv there. Coincidence! We know the difficulty of performing improv from our experience of sucking at it. Our fellow improvisers were incredible, by the way, because they, too, could stumble upon this story.

“Hyprov” swings for the fences, but double the risk, double the potential for failure. You don’t get extra points for degree of difficulty, unfortunately.

The improv in “Hyprov” isn’t even as good as the improv in an improv class. The difference is this is a ticketed show unsuspecting tourists are actually paying for.

This wasn’t a matter of a good show or bad show. Everyone has those, both in the comedy-hypnosis world and improv world.

Professional improvisers, performing with other professional improvisers, have about a 50 percent success rate. A great improviser performing with novices brings that down to ten percent. One trained performer can only do so much heavy lifting. Novices who are hypnotized? The chances of a great improv show are slim to none.

The concept, it turns out, isn’t bold, it’s misguided and sets the performers and show up to fail.

Could Colin Mochrie make “Hyprov” better? Probably, but again, he’s not in it.

All that said, we aren’t saying you definitely won’t enjoy this show. We just recommend you drink a lot prior to attending. Drinking can make anything better. Especially a show where the audience is encouraged to shout things out.

“Hyprov” happens in the Harrah’s Showroom. Not the “Menopause” one, the other one.

Here’s the thing. Despite having performed it, we don’t really get improv as an overall form of entertainment. The sole purpose of improv seems to be to showcase how clever the performers are. Otherwise, they’d just write a script and the show would be predictably entertaining (best case scenario). There’s a reason scripts exist. It’s because you have more time to think about what the performers will say. The first joke you think of is often not the best joke. Scripts allow for rewrites, improv shows mostly don’t.

Improv is a first draft.

There’s a reason people pay to see trained, talented performers rather than random people off the street. Think karaoke. There are hits and misses, but way more misses.

There’s a reason trained musicians play on the stages at Fremont Street, while dimwits bang on pickle tubs nearby.

We’d love to hear your thoughts if you see “Hyprov.” As always, this is one person’s opinion, and it’s hard to judge a show with so many variables by one performance.

Ticket prices aren’t bad for a Strip show (they start at $39 plus the usual irksome Ticketmaster fees), so it may be worth a shot if you’ve seen all the other shows in town and want to give this one a try.

For what it’s worth, the show is billed as being family-friendly, which probably isn’t helping. Anthony Cools’ show was very sexually explicit, which is one of the reasons it was awesome. (He occasionally used plants, though, “Hyprov” claims it does not. Opinions vary. We have heard from a number of audience members they’re convinced the show uses obvious plants. If so, they need to find better ones and acknowledge that’s the case.)

The reality is there’s a reason there aren’t a ton of improv shows on the Las Vegas Strip. Second City had a seven-year run at Flamingo. (The group is still looking for a new theater, apparently. It closed in 2008.)

Improv shows can be enjoyable, but often they aren’t. In the entertainment capital of the world, you can’t produce a successful show that’s a crapshoot. You don’t have the luxury of a show that’s hit-and-miss, because there are so many shows killing it every single night.

If you’re craving comedy-hypnosis, try “Hypnosis Unleased” at Four Queens.

Sorry, “Hyprov” cast and crew. We knew you’d keep reading, but don’t take it personally. There’s a reason comedy-hypnosis has a formula, because it works. You knew you were in trouble when our frenemy Johnny Kats, who never hates anything, said in his Las Vegas Review-Journal story, “When improv or hypnosis work, they are hysterical. When they don’t, the result is disastrous.” He was being diplomatic. The Review-Journal relies on advertising dollars, we don’t.

See “Hyprov” while you can, as its run at Harrah’s is expected to be short. Not voluntarily.

Oh, and if you’re still reading it as “hi-prov,” join the club.