Fresh from the success of his hit ITV show with Phillip Schofield, Keith Barry is back with a brand new show, Out of Control, running from mid October to mid January, 2016. I caught up with the Waterford magician for a chat about his career and what people can expect from the upcoming gig in the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Keith Barry is now a household name. One wonders if the man from Waterford contemplated becoming an international star in his formative years while honing his art. Barry’s interest in magic began when he was five years old. Every Christmas from that age he asked Santa for one gift in particular: a magic set.
At the age of 14 he bought a book called The Klutz Book of Magic, something he says piqued his interest in magic. However, while he performed in clubs around his locality during these early years, Keith initially continued down the road of education.
“My parents were always very supportive,” he says, “but their tag line was that magic is great as a hobby. They encouraged me to go to college and finish school. I studied chemistry and went on to be a cosmetic scientist for two and a half years until I was completely fed up with it. I then took a giant leap of faith and went into performing full time.”
Keith moved to Dublin in his early 20s and began to perform his act in the city’s clubs. It was there that he began to rub shoulders with some of the big names in Irish showbusiness. “I started performing in the clubs around Dublin and in particular the Kitchen Club, which was Bono’s at the time. I used to perform every Friday night there in front of U2 and other celebrities, but I also did Christmas parties, work parties, you name it. I came up through the ranks and learned my trade.”
In 2003 Keith got his first TV gig with Close Encounters on RTÉ before heading to the US. However, he considers Ireland to be the place that he learned, honed, and applied his trade, and today relishes the opportunity to perform close to home: “I still do a lot of travelling, but I much prefer being at home these days with wife and kids, doing TV, or performing live. It is a selfish thing really, but I am most happy nowadays when at home.”
Barry’s reputation as a hypnotist has had an interesting influence on his life. While selling out the venues he performs in, he can still walk down the street today without being approached by fans. “The funny thing about that is people now seem wary of approaching me in case I hypnotise them or something. People are cautious, but I always welcome people who approach me and I am even willing to perform for them then and there if they ask.”
As for what the people of Athlone can expect: “There will be a mass mind control experiment where I take control of the minds of everybody in the audience at the same time, but this show is particularly designed to make people laugh until their faces hurt. The first half ends with someone from the audience firing a missile at my face at 615 miles per hour.
“The second half is a full hypnosis act that is very loosely scripted. I am leaving that segment open every night to decide what to do, so it really will get ‘out of control’.”
Keith Barry performs at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Athlone, on Saturday, October 31 at 8pm. Tickets are available from the hotel reception and from ticketmaster.ie