Langley-born stunt magician and comedian Wes Barker has come a long way from the 'burbs.
“Langley’s not a very inspired area for the arts, but I didn’t get into it until I was 19,” said Barker in a video interview with the Straight earlier this week. “I had an interest in magic and performing, but I didn’t think of it as a career until later on.”
It wasn't until after he left the Fraser Valley suburb that he began developing his own tricks, but ever since, he’s been working hard to make a name for himself on just about every magician-friendly reality T.V. show that exists.
The last year in particular has seen Barker make an appearance on at least three major network shows.
After failing to make it to air in the first and only season of Canada’s Got Talent in 2012, Barker made it all the way to judge cuts in the 10th season of America’s Got Talent.
He was also featured on Syfy’s Wizard Wars, a reality show which sees teams of magicians working together to create and perform original tricks for a live audience and the show’s judges, legendary magicians Penn and Teller.
However, it was his appearance on another show with the two entertainers, CW’s Penn & Teller: Fool Us, that he felt he really got his big break.
“Going on Penn & Teller and fooling them was pretty much my crowning achievement so far… but my YouTube channel having some serious success has also been a huge benchmark,” said Barker. “It’s definitely something that’s opened up a lot of doors for me.”
In total, Barker’s videos have surpassed 27 million views.
The 29-year old entertainer will take the stage at the Vogue Theatre on February 19 as part of this year’s Just For Laughs NorthWest comedy festival. He says audience members shouldn’t expect to see tricks that they’ve already seen him perform on T.V. appearances or in his YouTube videos.
“I’m doing a whole new set. There are a couple of classics that I like to do, but the big ones are going to be brand new, and super crazy,” said Barker.
While he does call himself a magician, it’s not in the traditional sense. Unlike performers like David Blaine and Chris Angel, Barker says he takes a much more laid-back approach to his performances, mixing in personal stories and elements of stand-up, while focusing largely on tricks that involve audience participation.
Catch Wes Barker at the Vogue on February 19. Watch the video below to hear more about some of Barker’s inspirations, and what some of his favourite acts are.