Don Barnhart’s comedy hypnosis show combines his stand up, improv and hypnosis skills to tap into the power of the subconscious mind and use his volunteer’s hidden talents turning them into the stars of a show that is as empowering as it is entertaining.
Barnhart specializes in recovery shows and just finished headlining the 31st Annual Tri State Round Up in Laughlin, NV. Last year he produced a series of Healing Through Humor Comedy Shows for Solutions Recovery Center in Las Vegas and he continues to headline the Vegas strip, cruise ships, colleges, high schools, fairs and other recovery shows across the country. Barnhart show is setting record attendance numbers making him America’s Funniest Hypnotist.
“We hired Don Barnhart for entertainment at our event, we had over 600 attendees and typically it's hard to please everybody... But for the first time ever, we did not receive anything but thanks and praise for Don. He put on the most amazing show, I have never seen so many people laughing and having a great time. We look forward to having him back for years to come! If you haven't had a chance to see him I highly recommend it!!!’ - Heather H, Chair, Tri State Roundup - Laughlin, NV
Having grown up in the AL-Anon program, Barnhart was more than familiar with the concepts of recovery and utilizes them in his self-improvement audio CDs. Participants as well as the audience learn the basic foundations of hypnosis during Barnhart’s show that they can utilize and apply in their own journey of success supplementing and reinforcing their recovery.
Recovery Comedy: What were you like as a kid?
Don Barnhart: I like to “think” I was a great kid but the truth is, I was always getting into trouble, asking too many questions. I would finish my homework as fast as I could so I could goof off afterwards. I was always raising my hand asking too many questions, making the class laugh out. It’s ironic that now I’m getting paid for what I used to get thrown out of class for.
Recovery Comedy: What made you decide to become a stand-up comedian and how long have you been performing?
Don Barnhart: Right out of high school, I went to join the military but they were closed. The recruiter, not the military. As I skateboarded home I passed a comedy club and saw a help wanted sign and went in and got a job as the doorman. I found that to be part of my salvation. It became a positive addiction, as I would go into the club on my nights off just to help out even if I wasn’t getting paid just so I could be around comedy. I cleaned the bathrooms, video taped the acts for the club, ran errands, waited tables and anything else I could do. By the time I was 20, I was managing the club as well as booking the talent and one night the host couldn’t make it and they asked me to fill in and from then on, they couldn’t get me off the stage.
In 87, Jay Leno told me that if you want to be a comic you have to go on the road and see if your material works everywhere so the next day I quit and have been performing ever since.
Recovery Comedy: Were you performing stand-up comedy before you got into recovery?
Don Barnhart: I had actually been a theater geek and got into hypnosis as a tool to help get clean. Having grown up in the Al Anon program, it just sort of ‘made sense’ to me. I had absorbed a lot of what I had listened to and applied it to my hypnosis.
Recovery Comedy: Does your comedy have a message and if so what is it?
Don Barnhart: I try to point out the absurd and ridiculous with my stand up and have often times been accused of using intelligent humor. As for my hypnosis show, I use it to entertain and also empower both the volunteers and audiences teaching them a technique to help strengthen and supplement their recovery program. Whether it’s to stop smoking, help with the stress or anxiety of getting sober and clean, I try to share some of the lessons and techniques I’ve learned to create and live the life of my dreams.
Recovery Comedy: Who are your comedy idols?
Don Barnhart: I’m a true comedy fan and love so many great acts and there are so many genres of comedy to pull from. Right now, Louis CK and Chris Rock but I’m watching a lot of European acts. They have a really unique perspective on America.
Recovery Comedy: Where does your inspiration for material come from?
Don Barnhart: My inspiration for materiel comes directly from my life, family and personal experiences. I try to really open up my soul and take my nightmares and find the humor within. I had 4 older sisters growing up and they made me dance so as a kid I was a pretty good dancer. In high school, I took a dance class and would get teased by the football team. Ironic, I was the only guy with 20 girls in spandex or I could be on a team with sweaty guys with their hands on each other’s crotch…who’s in the closet now???
Recovery Comedy: What is your joke writing process?
Don Barnhart: In my improv, stand up writing and performance workshops I teach my students to open their soul, write out what they love and hate and show the world through their eyes. I try to do the same and make my show personal in nature. Harness the pain and find the funny. I was married once before…I realized we were having some problems when my wife started ‘dating again’.
Recovery Comedy: What is your kryptonite?
Don Barnhart: Coffee, and I mean good coffee. I treated myself to a really nice cappuccino machine and even have a back up for parts in case that one breaks.
Recovery Comedy: Is your family supportive of your comedy career?
Don Barnhart: For the most part, my family supports me. My mom used to call and suggest bits I should talk about whereas my dad said he didn’t like me talking about him in my show. I told him, if he didn’t want to be in my act, he should stop doing stupid things.
Recovery Comedy: Is comedy part of your healing process?
Don Barnhart: Comedy can be a huge catharsis. They say that pain plus time equals funny, which I believe is true, it just may take awhile for the humor truck to get back around to your neighborhood. Humor can be a great pressure release valve to the human soul, which is why we laugh in serious situations.
Recovery Comedy: What was your worst experience performing comedy?
Don Barnhart: There are so many it’s hard to single out one especially since I’ve buried and tried to compartmentalize all of those, I try to not relive the pain and pick that scab. I was working on a cruise ship when I found out my mom had gone into a coma. It was about an hour before I had to do a show and I was balling my eyes out backstage. As they were introducing me, I wiped my eyes and hit the stage. The show must go on…
Recovery Comedy: What was your best experience performing comedy?
Don Barnhart: In ’92, I had gotten divorced I took a few months off to travel to Europe. While back packing around I saw a USO sign. I went in and offered to do a show, it went well and I’ve been performing and producing comedy shows for the troops ever since.
Recovery Comedy: What is your comedy dream?
Don Barnhart: My comedy dream is to still be able to make people laugh for the rest of my life. Humor has been such a healing force for me that I want to share it. They say that comedy is the best medicine and I believe it’s not just medicine but nourishment for the soul.
To find out more information about Don Barnhart or to book him for your next Recovery Event just click here!
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