Wes Barker takes the stage with confidence and begins by getting us to rate his appearance, he takes the low(ish) ratings well and this sets up what will become a running gag for the rest of the evening.
The first half of the set involves Barker completing a series of magic tricks interspersed with some light comedy. There are no rabbits or doves (that is not his style), but the tricks are solid and convincing. If, like me, you also like the occasional magic show, then you’ll find that the illusions are mostly good takes on ones you may have seen before. He finishes the first half with one of his ‘stunts’’. I say ‘stunts’ because I went expecting physical feats, but it turned out they were stunts of the cunning variety. Admittedly I did enjoy them and they were one of the better parts of the show.
Barkers comedy was a bit of a slow starter for me, mostly as the segues between sections were a bit weak, however, his middle set in which he actually let the comedy flow was genuinely funny. With a certain Canadian charm he linked together his rating (5/10) from earlier in the evening, his relationship dramas and his feelings on kids together. This charm was only added to when he taught us how to do a magic trick.
His last few tricks were quite impressive, and included a variation on the one he used to fool Penn and Teller. Barker’s style is not flamboyant magician – don’t go expecting that. Do expect to get involved – his magic involves a lot of crowd interaction, but he keeps you safe(ish). The crowd last night was responsive and engaged and this only added to the evening. I may have been disappointed by the missing ‘physical feats’ but I would still like to know what happened to that balloon.
Wes Barker: Stunt Magician is on at the Hannah Playhouse until Saturday 14 May. More details and tickets here: http://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/find-a-show/wes-barker/?LocaleID=2
*Originally published at ArtMurmurs.nz