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Magic man

Magic man

Renowned hypnotist Chris Jones got his start here

Chris Jones, ’08, has become a nationally known hypnotist.

Posted 11:11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022

Chris Jones remembers one of his first times performing in front of an audience.

It was the mid-2000s, and he was representing the now-defunct Baird Hall in the Mr. UW-La Crosse competition. 

His mind-reading trick failed. His card trick flopped. Then it was time for his final act: levitation.

“I tried to levitate a woman’s driver’s license, and I did,” Jones, ’08, recalls. “Unfortunately, with the spotlight, everyone could see the shadow of the string.”

From inauspicious beginnings, Jones applied himself and slowly but surely learned to captivate. Today, he is a world-renowned hypnotist and comedian with his own prank show, “Double Take,” on Facebook Watch.

“Life is fascinating to me,” says Jones, reflecting on his career. “With hypnosis, you can’t really practice. You can try practicing with a friend, but you’re always going to wonder: ‘Did I really hypnotize you? Or were you just pretending?’ The only way to get better is to go out and do it.”

Over the past decade, Jones has done exactly that, reaching a level of success many entertainers only dream about.

All that time on the road has afforded Jones the luxury of spending more time with his family, while doing fewer shows and focusing on bigger projects. It has also allowed him to give back — in the form of a $10,000 donation to the UWL Foundation to create a scholarship for underrepresented students. 

The scholarship honors Ron Rochon, a former UWL faculty member and mentor to Jones.

Chris Jones, ’08, during his days at UWL spent time studying in Murphy Library.

Jones, who majored in sociology, didn’t set out to be a hypnotist. He was inspired after seeing hypnotist Fred Winters perform at Cartwright Center.

After college, Jones did shows all over the U.S. 

There were nights he failed to hypnotize anyone.

And there were nights he was almost too effective.

“Once, I was driving back from a show, and I got a phone call,” he recalls. “Someone was still a little bit hypnotized. I had to get them on speaker phone and guide them out of it.”

In 2015, Jones received a phone call that changed his life.

“America’s Got Talent,” one of NBC’s most popular programs, wanted to feature a hypnotist.

“I didn’t watch the show, but I knew Howie Mandel was one of the judges, and he is famously afraid of germs,” Jones remembers. “I thought, ‘OK, I’ll hypnotize him, and I’ll get him to shake my hand.’”

During his audition, Jones used several techniques, including turning back an invisible clock, to hypnotize Mandel. Eventually, Jones convinced Mandel to shake not only his hand — but hands of fellow judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum and Mel B.

While Jones was ultimately eliminated during judge cuts, his viral performance was a major boost.

He was able to raise his rates. He was invited to perform at bigger venues and overseas. And he was offered a show on Facebook Watch, in which he demonstrated the power of hypnotism by working with celebrities such as John Cena, Pamela Anderson and Gabriel Iglesias.

Jones uses his platform not just to share his passion for hypnotism, but to be a positive role model.

If he could hypnotize humanity and issue one command, he says, he would tell people to travel the world and experience different cultures.

He established the scholarship for a similar purpose: enriching lives through education.

“I want to support students who will get their education and go on to help people,” Jones says. “It’s like an elevator. Once you make it up, it should go back down for the next person.”

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