Raising money for the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation is a perfect use of comedy-magician Wes Barker’s talents.
“I’ve been in the ER no less than 10 times,” said Barker, who performs at tonights (May 5) sold out Denim & Diamonds gala at the Cascades Casino.
Born and raised in Langley, Barker was taken to the ER himself for such incidents as having teeth knocked out or needing stitches in childhood.
“I broke my nose a couple times, when I was in elementary school,” he said.
He’s also been there for serious family issues, like his father’s heart attack 16 years ago.
“He’s doing great,” Barker noted. In fact, his dad has continued helping Barker build special items for his magic act.
Barker has been performing magic for years, whether at street festivals in the Lower Mainland or on US network television. Barker had a spot on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us, in which he managed to stump the famous duo of magicians with a trick involving a sword and a torn-up telephone book.
Like many magicians, he’s frequently honing his act, coming up with new jokes and new tricks and illusions to amaze his audiences.
A new trick can go from the first thought to performance quickly.
“Sometimes, that’s the same day,” said Barker.
Once you understand and can use the basics of magic, you can use those to build a new idea into practice, said Barker.
“Sometimes a new idea isn’t all that complicated,” he said.
The tools may be as simple as a deck of cards.
“Usually, I’ll do it at a comedy club, I’ll just drop in,” said Barker. That gives him a chance to test the idea in front of an audience quickly.
Other new parts of his routine may take a lot longer to perfect before they’re ready to show to an audience.
“Two years is the longest,” he said. The average is about two to four weeks to develop something new.
Other illusions have been polished over years, and across multiple continents.
Touring has been a constant for Barker in recent years.
“I have an act now that’s mostly stuff I can fit in one case,” he said.
So a show at home – as well as a chance to perform in his home town – allows him to adapt himself to the space.
“It really allows me to adapt my show to the room and to the audience,” Barker said.
As for what people attending Saturday’s Denim & Diamonds can expect, they should be prepared to laugh.
“I’m looking for the laugh first, and then the awed bit at the end,” Barker said.
People will be able to see more of Barker’s act later this year even if they can’t catch him live. He’s filming an hour-long special in October. He’s deciding right now what parts of his act will go into the special.