There wasn’t anything up his sleeve except maybe determination when Vancouver’s Wes Barker quit his job at 25 to pursue a career in magic.
At the time, he was working in construction and enjoying it, but when offered a promotion he knew he had to turn it down.
“I was making money on my magic on the side. I thought I had the world’s greatest part-time gig. That day, I thought I’m 25, I might as well try I have nothing to lose. I said, ‘that’s it I’m out.’ I went to the car shut the door and immediately had to open it to throw up out of the car and then I immediately drove away.”
Since then. Barker has performed his mix of comedy and magic show for about 200 live audiences a year and entertained millions through appearances on television shows such as America’s Got Talent, Pen and Teller: Fool Us and his popular Youtube channel.
Pentictonites will have their chance to see the hillarious magician at the Dream Cafe Nov. 24 with doors opening at 6 p.m. and the show starting at 8 p.m.
Boredom led him to magic. He was in his late teens and already working full-time in construction. Having just watched a David Blaine special. He decided to try magic for himself. Soon he was being booked for family functions like his dad’s retirement party or cousin’s birthdays.
“I honestly didn’t know if it was going to work out the first couple years. It was really hard. It took a few years to really work out my style. No one is really doing what I’m doing. I’ve been fortunate enough that every year since I quit has been better than the year before.”
He started to feel comfortable with his chosen career in 2014 when he packed a 1,200-seat theatre show in Vancouver. During that show video clips were shot and put on YouTube. Within a few months millions of people had watched the show.
“Right around that time I stopped trying to be just a magician. Up to that point I was pretty serious on stage. I was really focussed on getting the tricks right. I had thought that a magician had to be like the few famous magician’s that are out there like David Blaine, Chris Angel or Copperfield. Serious. But then I realized that’s dumb. I’m a funny guy and that’s what I need to do.”
Barker said his show’s are the perfect blend of standup comedy and magic.
“People who like magic, they are going to like the show and they’re going to find it surprisingly funny. People who like comedy are going to be blown away with how funny I am and they’re going to enjoy watching a bit of magic. It’s a show for everyone.”
Over the last few years he’s pulled off some serious success with appearances on America’s Got Talent and winning a season of the popular show Pen and Teller: Fool Us. The show is currently on Netflix.
“America’s Got Talent was a great show. I got some great exposure but they really pressure you to do a certain trick because they think it’s going do better on television. On Pen and Teller they let us pick our tricks. It was a surreal experience to be on there and be able to fool your heroes. It was an experience of a lifetime.”
Barker was named the Variety Performer of the Year recently by the Canadian Organization of Campus Activities. He performs about 20 to 25 shows a year at college and university campus throughout the county. He’s hoping to soon be able to tour U.S. schools as well.
Currently he’s focussing on developing more subscribers to his Youtube Channel, which currently has over 100,000. His goal is to grow that number to 500,000 in the next six months. Ultimately he’s hoping to get his own special on Netflix.
“They haven’t ever done anything quite like this before. They’ve had comedians. They’ve had magicians. They haven’t had magicians who are also standup comedians. I’m patient and I’ll keep bugging them but that’s definitely the ultimate goal,” he said.
Those who go to Friday’s show in Penticton will experience about 60 to 75 minutes of Barker’s magic and funny stories. He touches on everything from getting into fights in Thailand to performing for billionaires.
“I don’t really want to get to much into it because it’s better when they see it live but they’re all real-life stories. They’re things I’ve experience and they’re funny.”
Tickets are still available for the show and range in price from $42 for premium seats to $32 for the wings. Buy tickets online at thedreamcafe.ca.