‘Stunt magician’ honed skills at lunch hour

The last time we saw Wes Barker, he was in his underwear.

"It was a great experience," the Surrey resident said about his experience last fall on the Exposed! show aired on The Comedy Network.

Barker was a top-five finalist in the talent contest, in which contestants had to submit a video clip of them performing a stunt in nothing more than their underwear. The prize was $5,000 cash and a chance to develop a pilot for the TV channel.

Barker, 27, didn’t win the cash prize that December day, but that week he was excited to announce a headlining show at Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre, booked for Saturday, March 8. On stage, Barker mixes magic and comedy for his "stunt magician" show, filled with audience-participation bits.

"I definitely use the ‘stunt magician’ thing right off the top, to describe what I do, just so people don’t confuse me with a guy who pulls a rabbit out of a hat," explained the Langley-raised Barker, who now lives in the Clayton Heights area.

"I’m not tossing doves out of my sleeves and throwing fireballs in the air – well, maybe a fireball here and there. But I wanted something that was my own thing."

On the day the Now called Barker, he spent the morning throwing a tomahawk into a tree, for practice.

"I have a new trick that involves a tomahawk, a blindfold and a cellphone, and that’s not typically a magician-like trick, it’s just a stunt I’ve come up with, one with a magic kicker," Barker revealed. "Everything I do onstage has a magic twist to it, and it’s dangerous and funny all the way through. It’s a bit hard to explain and, really, I always struggle to find a good description for what I do."

Barker honed his magic skills while working for the City of Surrey in his early 20s, between time spent studying business administration at university.

"I did lots of jobs for them – water meters, watermains, weedeating on the roads and drainage," he said. "You take your lunch breaks in your truck, because there’s nowhere to go and everyone just packs a lunch, and you have your half-hour lunch and two 10-minute coffees. So there’s 50 minutes a day where you’re just sitting in your truck with nothing to do, so I just brought books with me, on magic, and on my breaks I’d practise magic tricks. Every partner I had thought it was hilarious that I had this library of books in the truck, and during every break I’d pull out cards, coins and whatnot. Kind of weird."

In 2011, he was a finalist on CTV’s Canada’s Got Talent, although he didn’t make it to the televised portion of the show.

"I’d turn on the TV and see their 30-second promo, and I was the big finish in

"Everything I do onstage has a magic twist to it, and it’s dangerous and funny all the way through," says Surrey resident Wes Barker, who brings his comedy-filled magic show to Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre on Saturday, March 8. all those commercials," Barker recalled. "I thought that was a good sign, but ultimately, based on the nature of my show, the kind of tricks I do, they toe that line between appropriate and inappropriate, you know? But really, I toe that line great, and I do high school shows all the time without a problem, but when it’s on TV they (the producers) really make sure not to offend anybody and get really nervous. So they said to me, ‘We’ll get you on next year with some different tricks, to make it more for TV,’ but then that second season (of Canada’s Got Talent) never happened. They shouldn’t be so conservative next time."

Just back from a two-week tour of Australia, Barker is stoked to perform at a theatre the size of the Vogue, which has room for around 1,200 paying customers.

"At the Rio, which seats about 450, they were understaffed that night and weren’t really ready for the flood of people who came for a one-man show, so we’ll see what happens at the Vogue," he said. "I’m lucky to have a good following of people who like my show, I guess."

Looking ahead, Barker has his sights set on scoring a TV show.

"I’m starting to figure out more about TV, and I’m doing a YouTube video of the week kind of thing," he said. "It’s coming to the point where I think it’s not a matter of if TV happens for me, it’s a matter of when. I’ve just hit a really big creative stride right now, coming up with a whole bunch of unique stuff that I think people will enjoy."

Tickets for Barker’s March 8 performance are $20 via northerntickets.com and 604-569-1144. To see videos of Barker in action, visit www.stuntmagician.com.

tzillich@thenownewspaper.com

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