Chasing the Blues

Aug 2nd, 2007 | Category: In the Press

Just call it the House of Laughter.

Two comedy shows – one magic, one hypnotic – have taken up residence in the House of Blues, better known for concerts by top blues, jazz and rock artists.

“We’ve never gone in this direction, not totally,” Las Vegas House of Blues General Manager Greg Encinas says. “What we try to do is offer a wide variety of entertainment. But looking at what the consumer wants in the Las Vegas market, I think they want some standard entertainment and also some things with twists and turns.”

Enter “Keep It Funny starring Tim Gabrielson,” a family-friendly afternoon show, and “Dirty: Rock Hard Comedy Hypnosis,” an adults-only late-night show featuring Michael Johns and Terry Stokes.

Gabrielson is a sleight-of-hand magician who blends wholesome humor with magic.

Johns is an X-rated stand-up comic who adopted hypnotism later in his career. He and Stokes, a comedic hypnotist for about 40 years, joined forces more than three years ago.

“What we’ve done here is we have gone after a totally new angle or tack on some existing style of shows in Las Vegas, and I think we’ve put that House of Blues touch to it,” Encinas says.

The venue hasn’t abandoned anything. There are still major concerts. The regular lineup includes the acoustic music show “Unplugged,” hosted by Michael Soli, on Thursday nights; Prince tribute artist Jason Tenner on Sundays; Boogie Knights on Saturdays; and Rockstar Karaoke on Mondays.

But “Dirty” and “Keep” are more like ongoing Las Vegas production shows.

Gabrielson, who began at the House of Blues July 14, was filling in for comic magician Mac King at Harrah’s when Encinas first saw the performance.

“He had that thing you can’t put your finger on,” Encinas says. “He was extraordinarily interactive with the crowd, and they were so warm to him. It was a very good show, entertaining. He did some different things I haven’t seen in magic shows.”

He said Gabrielson’s clean act was perfect for an afternoon show.

“That time of day you have people coming back from the pool that are wanting to relax, stay inside and have a cocktail, looking for something to do,” Encinas says. “This is an opportunity for them to see a show. The interesting demographic is the families. Vegas has opened up for families, and this offers wholesome entertainment for them – and for couples who want to have a margarita, sit back, relax and enjoy a comedy magic show.”

The flip side of the coin is the adult show put on by Johns.

“In Las Vegas I think there are about, if I’m not mistaken, about 13 hypnotist shows in town,” Encinas says. “This one is pretty good. It’s entertaining and it’s edgy.”

Perfect for the late-night adult crowd.

Encinas added the House of Blues touch to the late show with a four-piece band, led by Bonnie Mizell. The house band plays a couple of opening numbers and then plays music cues during the show – a departure from canned music.

“I thought that would be a perfect marriage – an adult show with live rock ‘n’ roll music built around it,” Encinas says. “It’s become a rock ‘n’ roll hypnotist show.”

Copyright and Published by the Las Vegas Sun on August 2, 2007