Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo brings the Spirit to Rochester


My husband told me afterward that I was yawning — loudly — during Theresa Caputo’s appearance at the Blue Cross Arena last night. Caputo, also known as the Long Island Medium, has a show on TLC where she purports to bring news from the great beyond to grieving loved ones here on the ground floor.

It’s true that I was bored, but I sort of feel badly about it because Caputo’s — I don’t know what to call it. Shtick? Act? — did seem to profoundly affect many members of the audience (which was packed, by the way).

Caputo has a tiny frame, dirty mouth, and hair that seems like it belongs on the overwrought wife of a TV evangelist — a bona fide architectural achievement. She walks through the audience supposedly guided by “Spirit,” which might be a specific deceased person reaching out to a loved one or an overall guiding force, like ghost Obi-Wan on the ice planet Hoth — I couldn't tell.

Caputo shotguns general questions like “Who here has lost a husband?” or “Who is the male figure in your life that has passed on?” Her patter is a nonstop assault, which seems to confuse and-or unsteady people — and that's probably the point.

She overstates connections, explains away “misses” — moving quickly down a list until she strikes oil — trumpets “hits” that don’t seem to even rise to the level of reasonable guesses, and leaves people with gauzy, feel-good messages from their dearly departed: “She loves you.” “You were great parents.” “It wasn’t your fault.” How many of us would give everything to hear similar comforts from those we've lost?

So, no, I wasn't impressed by Caputo — though I would've been happy if that had happened. I was impressed, once again, by the strength of grief. It must be the most powerful emotion we have. No matter how much time has passed, a familiar smell, a piece of music, her candy rediscovered in the pocket of an old sweater, is enough to bring that wave back down on you as if they’d just gone. You love them and you lose them all over again.

It's a setup ripe for exploitation, but doing so seems like a damned crime.