RIP J Medicine Hat

Word is slowly spreading online that comedian and hypnotist J Medicine Hat died yesterday.

Details aren't available, but Medicine Hat reportedly had some health problems.

Medicine Hat made Boise a regular tour stop over the years. He played everywhere from the Funny Bone to China Blue. Image

Here's a column I wrote about him in 2002:

Bad, bad Medicine: Hypnotist abuses willing 'victims'

Hypnotist J Medicine Hat is mean-spirited, manipulative and downright nasty.

He's also the most popular specialty act at the Funny Bone.

His show, which runs through Monday, appeals to exhibitionists (who volunteer to be hypnotized) and voyeurs (who down whiskey shots and laugh at them).

After seeing Medicine Hat perform in March, I realized that I fall into neither category. But judging from the packed room, there are many Boiseans who do.

"I know it's a freak show, " Medicine Hat says. "Therein lies the popularity. It's different, it's dirty. There's a market for that."

A former slaughterhouse worker, Medicine Hat has been hypnotizing willing show-offs for 13 years . He did straight stand-up for a decade before that. After discovering mind control would quadruple his income, he was hooked.

The premise is simple and simply perverted.

Medicine Hat asks for a dozen volunteers. He dims the lights and launches into a spooky induction. If all goes well, when the lights come on, the stage is filled with sleepy-eyed suckers ready to be puppet-mastered.

Medicine Hat prods volunteers into all sorts of wackiness: pretending they're driving a car, applying suntan lotion or posing at a bodybuilding show.

He's like a crazy-eyed, meth-lab redneck, complete with shaved-on-the-sides mullet and a bad case of hat head -- half American Indian, half white ... trash.

But Medicine Hat's job is deceptively difficult. Hypnosis induction in a professional setting can take 30 to 60 minutes. He has 6 minutes to pull it off in a room full of drinkers. If he's lucky, three of the volunteers will be hypnotized.

"It's a crap shoot, " Medicine Hat says. "I've had times where I've had to do the induction three times."

The show's quality depends on the volunteers' creativity. If that redhead onstage is a snooze in real life, chances are she's still a bore under hypnosis.

Yet watching these mesmerized hams left me uncomfortable: Sure, it was humorous, but something about it seemed wrong.

Then again, I was at one of Medicine Hat's "X-rated" shows, a fact lost on me prior to the event.

It sank in when my date jumped onstage.

Uh-oh.

Medicine Hat pounced: "The librarian chick is mine!" he cackled.

I prayed.

Fortunately -- or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it -- she didn't go under and returned to the table disappointed.

The saps who remained starred in an embarrassing circus that resembled a rejected "Girls Gone Wild" video -- or, ugh, actually "Boys Gone Wild."

Even Medicine Hat admits to getting grossed out occasionally.

"Especially guys, when they think they're male prostitutes, rubbing their hand down my chest, " he groans.

Offstage, Medicine Hat is surprisingly polite. Frighteningly so. And just to prove he's a softie, he ends his shows by giving the volunteers a personalized hypnotic suggestion -- one they requested at the start of the night.

Want help losing weight? No prob -- J's your man.

Just be certain you're willing to gyrate like a gay stripper in a roomful of strangers to get it.

Very Sad.

I only saw him once, and listened to him on the Radio several times. He was quite funny, if a bit crude. He will be greatly missed.

Very sad but please don't forget Ron Pallilo as well...

And is it just me that sees perhaps that Gabe Kaplan has outiived nearly half of the Sweathogs?

Oh well...J was an unforgetable person. His loss is a large one.