Rich Guzzi describes his father as a mountain of a man who seemed invincible. The hardworking mechanic was someone nothing could touch, and to his son, he was both an inspiration and his best friend. Then one day, everything changed. “He was impervious to everything, so when he said he wasn’t feeling well, that was jarring.” As Rich negotiated the heavy Long Island traffic, his father, seated next to him in the car, passed away. The cause? Hardened arteries from smoking. This year marks the 30th anniversary of his father’s death, and Rich is now 50 years old – the same age his father was when he died. Rich is now a noted comedian and hypnotherapist. To honor his father, he is launching The Start Joking, Stop Smoking tour with the goal of helping 100,000 people to walk away from the bad habit that took his father’s life.
Out of sorrow, Rich has found purpose. Shaken by the tragic and unexpected manner of his father’s passing, young Rich decided to pursue his dream of becoming a comedian. “That was something my father wanted for me,” Rich says. “He wanted me to be more than a car mechanic, like he was. Comedy became my therapy.” It would be years before Rich was successful enough to quit his day job, but he persevered. He started off playing bars and small clubs before graduating to bigger venues and larger crowds.
As a kid, Rich dabbled in hypnosis. One night during a stand-up show, he brought a couple of audience members up on stage and hypnotized them. It was a big hit. Hypnosis started out as a bit, but Rich soon saw that he could help people with it. “I realized hypnosis was something you could to do help people lose weight or quit smoking. You could do something more than just having people come to see a funny show.” He began taking classes to become certified. People were coming to his shows for the comedy and returning for the hypnotherapy.
These days, Rich travels around the country, making a solid living as an entertainer and living his dream, but he remains accessible to his fans. “I’m not one of those fat cat dudes. I’m a regular guy,” he says. His email and phone number are listed on his site. He’ll often take calls from fans on the road and will even do sessions over the phone.
The number one issue Rich helps people with is weight loss. He helped a 63 year old woman in Jacksonville, Florida go from a size 22 to a size 8. “It transformed this lady’s life. Obviously, she looks amazing – doesn’t even look like the same person anymore. But her mental outlook totally changed. She quit her job. She said, ‘There’s no way I’m going to do this dead-end job anymore. I am way better than this.’ She went and got herself a better job right away. She told her husband, ‘You can’t treat me like this any longer.’ She stood up for herself.”
Rich also receives thank you letters from families of soldiers who have returned from serving overseas. Often, they are traumatized and have difficulty assimilating. Using hypnotherapy, Rich is able to help them overcome their PTSD. It is work that he finds extremely gratifying. “These people didn’t ask for the things they saw, and they deserve help.” The soldiers are grateful to have their lives back, he says. The families are grateful to have their fathers and husbands back, too.
Comedy and hypnotherapy helped Rich transform his life. Now he helps others transform theirs. Through his work, he has helped people to quit smoking, deal with stress, form more effective study habits, improve their memory, and be more responsible with money. With the “Start Joking Stop Smoking Tour”, Rich hopes to save lives. “Faith is the secret ingredient to success,” he says. “Once you know you can, you can. I really believe that is what hypnosis can do for you.”
For more information on Rich Guzzi and his programs, visit stopsmokingforfree.org.