YouTuber and Magician Wes Barker chatted with Magicians Talking Magic co-host, Graeme Reed recently about creating content, working the YouTube space, COVID-19 stay home projects and more.
This is a great interview filled with all kinds of value for magicians and aspiring creators. Here's a sample clip Wes shares why it's important to act now.
Sample Clip | 3 min
"Creating YouTube Content" with Wes Barker
Watch Full Interview | 16 min
Full Interview with Wes Barker
Interview with Wes Barker Audio Transcript
Graeme Reed: Killing it on YouTube and all over the social media, doing some sketch videos at home right now. Can you give us a behind the scenes look on what's going on there? Wes Barker: Well, uh, you know, like everybody with this Corona thing a, the gigs just got wiped away because that's primarily where I may call, you know, 95% of my income is the live shows and um, I'm not a good saver. So since I was like, well, I got, I got on YouTube and I mean, it's great. I, you know, it depends on how you compare it, right? Like there's monsters out there killing it. I'm doing it like as a side income, which is fine. Uh, but I'm like Cal double down on YouTube at least I have this outlet and my wife's a flight attendant, so she got laid off for three months minimum. So now we're both at home. She's a hilarious person but has never really wanted to do like entertainment. Right? She's just like likes for life and likes to be funny with her friends.
Watch Wes Barker on YouTube
When Flight Attendants Work From Home!!
But I'm like, Hey, you're bored. I need more people because my, all my YouTube videos, all my social media, I'm like really good out in the world doing magic to strangers and that kind of thing. Right. Well, there's no, there's 750 square foot apartment. There's no world here. So my wife and I were like, let's, you know, let's shoot some sketches. Let's just, let's just get creative, the two of us. And um, it's actually been a really fun, creative outlet. So every day we just sit around and like, let's make something today. Okay. What's funny, what's funny? It's so fun and I only got like one ring light, one camera. So it's like, you know, I'm just sort of skating by Graeme Reed: for sure. Well, like our set up here, I'm on a 10 year old. iMac is in the base. It's really Mickey mouse. But whatever. This camera light changes all the time. Yeah. You can man, go whatever. Um, you know, but you know, to be honest, your sketch videos, your, your wife is really coming through as a hilarious person and love shining me, man is driving me nuts. She's like carrying the videos. It's made 'em cause my girlfriend, my girlfriend hates magic. Okay, good. But I can share these with her and she loves this stuff. She loves it. It's relatable. I think your audience is growing though.
America's Got Talent | Naked Escape | Wes Barker
Wes Barker: Oh, that's good to hear it. When I just started figured out, I started posting on Facebook too. I've never done that before. And uh, that has monitored the monetization now as well, which I'm just learning about and you have to kind of recut them differently over there, but they get shared way more. So like the one video, we, the one flight attendance sketch we shot, maybe it's like 800,000 on YouTube and it's like over 5 million on Facebook because Facebook people were just like, share, share, share, share, share. So was just, I mean the money's not as good. It's not like dollar for dollar the same. Um, but it's, the reach is huge. Graeme Reed: Do you, are you on tick tock right now to what you doing? Wes Barker: I have a posted some there a while ago and it's just, it's taken a back seat. It shouldn't and I got to get sort of more into it. But, um, the, right now I'm just so focused on where the, I know there, there's, there's, I can, I know I can make $5. I posted YouTube videos, so that's kinda what I'm really been focusing on. But I should definitely get back in a tick tock. Uh, cause I liked there. Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. Personally consume Tech-Talk like I love it. I watch like, so maybe I should probably get in there more too. Graeme Reed: I don't, I don't understand. I don't tick tock I'm so lost on the thing. I interviewed Josh and he gave us the full lowdown on how it works. Wes Barker: Yeah. Yeah. I'm still like, ah. Oh, I still don't, that's why I'm a little nervous to post there. Every time I post I'm like, I don't think I did this right. I think I'm a thousand years old and I don't know what I'm doing. But watching is fun. It's like, ha ha ha. It's just like, nothing's really funny. Everything's kind of funny. Uh, I feel like a little bit like me better than thinking my thoughts, I guess. I dunno. Graeme Reed: No, I know the rollercoaster of emotions that we experience every single day. Exactly. Are you doing any, so would you say these sketches, skits, video creation, is that consuming kind of, it's got to take up most of the day, right? Wes Barker: Yeah. Yeah. It takes about three hours to shoot one and about three hours to edit one for me. So it's a full, full day. Uh, and then, uh, yeah. And then, you know, thinking of them takes a whole day to like make sure you plan out with scenes you want to shoot and, uh, if you need, if you need supplies, you gotta order something or pick something up. Uh, yeah, it's, it's, it's tricky because I just want to jam magic in everything, you know, but it just doesn't really, unless you have random strangers to enjoy it, it doesn't play the same. So I'm really happy and to expand my brain. But there's a lot of sort of tricks I've learned in magic, especially making magic for TV that I'm applying to these sketches, uh, to sort of make things kind of happen. And his, and I'm like, Oh, like it's not a magic trick, but it's just like, I'm like, Oh, this tape definitely stick to this thing and I can hang this over here and like I can move. So like I'm just using every tool I have now, which is kinda fun. Graeme Reed: Wow. So what, could you give us an example of kind of like the knowledge that you would have from Wes Barker: like, just, uh, what's a good one? Uh, like some of like the, the Zach King style of video, magic editing, right? Yeah. So I've, I've, I've, because I'm like, Oh, I would love to post like some Instagram videos where like Zach King style or you drop an egg and it turns into a flower or whatever. I don't care. Right. But, um, uh, but I, so I learned how to do that editing stuff. So then now I may, I'm making sketches where I've cloned myself and I'm doing stuff with myself. And that's something I never would have learned about, wasn't trying to make Zach King magic videos. Right. So then I'm just like, I'm like, okay, I'm going to make it a sketch by myself in a clone, like for me. And I'm wandering around talking to myself. Just stuff like that, that I wouldn't know otherwise. So it was pretty fun. All my videos are your friends, like what do you, what are you using them? I use final cut man. And they're like, Whoa. Graeme Reed: I'll say from watching on the outside seeing your video progression and your editing skills, the quality and everything, you've really sneak become a release. Cause you used to have, uh, like did you have coal? He would edit. Yeah, Wes Barker: yeah, Graeme Reed: yeah. And now you're doing it like cloning yourself and everything. It's really great that you've faced your skills. Wes Barker: Cool. So great. But uh, I had to learn because he's busy so he would take forever. So I was like, just give me the footage, I'll do it. So then it was pretty bad. But now I'm getting up to a point where I'm like, Oh, this is actually looking decent. So I feel good about it. Besides the content creation right now, are you focusing in on any aspects of your shows or your actual, you know, the magic business or have you kind of shot, put it a little bit on hold completely while you do the content creation? Yeah, I'm definitely, I mean, I can't shut my brain off to magics. I'm always thinking of like, okay, when I get back into the game, like when shows open up again, what's the new trick I'm going to have? Like what's the, what's the next good thing?
NEW Magic + Comedy Special by Wes Barker
I want to be ready, you know? So I got that. I've got a few, like a lot of guys. I, I've got a few companies reached out to, I'm going to be doing some online shows. I have one in a couple of days over zoom and, uh, I haven't done one yet. I have two booked in the next two weeks. So, uh, you know, I gotta I got, I've been writing for that, like, Hey, how do you do a trick where you had no one to hold things and touch things? Especially my style of magic. It's not exactly, you know, it's, uh, so it's gonna be a challenge. Uh, and then also me and, um, Chris Ramsey, Erica, Claire and Alex Boyer. We have, uh, uh, we were pitching a TV show the last couple of months, uh, can't say much more about it, but that's still also rolling there. So we have a lot of those kinds of things to focus on. So we're talking magic day and night and it's super fun. But uh, it's just so unusual. I have so much time. I'm never home. I normally like 120 flights a year. I never spend more than three days at home. You have for the last four years in a row, I've averaged over a hundred flights a year. So I'm just gone all the time. And now I'm literally, I've been in this apartment other than getting groceries once a week. I've been in this department for 21 days straight and I've never done that. I don't remember the last time I did that. I, I'm literally like, Whoa. And my wife to flight attended, we never see each other. Normally we see each other 10 days a month maybe. And now we're seeing each other every day. And I mean we're making sketches together. So now we're all a sudden we're working together. I'm talking magic nonstop on FaceTime with Chris Ramsey and Erica was Clara all night long, right? And blowing through my whiskey. Right? Like it's just a crazy time to be alive, but it's magic is very much in the forefront right now. That's awesome. So it's basically, you haven't even hit the pause button. You are just like, Hey Wes we can just create more stuff right now. I got busier as soon as the Krone happened and I as soon as I didn't have to travel anymore and as soon as I couldn't cause I'm like, Oh, I got a gig here, gig here, gig here. So I looking to go, okay, my bills are going to be fine and when your bills are going to be fine, you kind of get a little complacent. And this is one thing that that originally, um, I made such a big jump back in the day when I quit my job immediately I shot up and, and I actually became a good, or a whatever, whatever the word for popular isn't, it doesn't necessarily mean good, but I started having more shows because I needed them. And now I feel this again first time in like 10 years. I'm like, Oh no, I'm in for it. Like I really need this like first two weeks I was like, are we going to have to move? Like what are we doing? Go, you have to leave. Like I'm, I feel moved to Saskatchewan. So Graeme Reed: isn't it weird too that you can't even just go on the street and throw your hat down? Wes Barker: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. All the old things we used to like, well, I could always do that. I could always do this. I mean I could always like, Oh, I can just go do some random show at a pub for a hundred bucks or whatever. Like just anything you could sort of do. Oh, busk Nope. It's all gone, man. And even me, like I'll go make a YouTube video, which never really guarantees money. Sometimes I make him and I literally don't, I make 10 cents, like I don't make anything. Um, but I would just like, Oh, I'll go out and find people and do magic. I don't even know if you'll ever be able to do that again. Go up people on the street being like, here, take my dirty cards and hold this. Like people are freaked out now. Like, who knows? Graeme Reed: Yeah. I was going to ask you, what do you think, do you think, um, our shows is there going to be, has to be totally different with no, like less volunteered interaction, which is huge for us too. Wes Barker: Yeah, I think so. Man. I the volunteer interaction, we'll just have to change. I think you can still bring people on stage, but I, you have to be careful what you give them and what you do. Like, I mean, I don't know if I'll ever do card out of the mouth again, you know? Um, I don't know if, uh, I have a trick, you know, with like a blow dart gun. I'm literally hand someone, a homemade voter gun, and they'd put the lips on it, right? Like, I don't think we're ever doing that again. You know, stuff like that. I'm like, damn, that's crazy. So yeah, it's going to change it a lot for sure. It's got a, it's got it. Graeme Reed: Absolutely. So you've already then be creating and writing new pieces. Wes Barker: Yeah. You knew any French kiss. Oh yeah. Let's put it in their mouth. Never gonna happen again. Ever doing that again? Graeme Reed: No. Just the idea of like a, Hey, here you go. Pick a card. Wes Barker: Yeah. No, it's, it's going to be a lot of, but Hey, the forces are going to get a lot easier. Hey, just say stop. Like, let's go. Oh yeah. One way. Four stacks all the way. Yeah. I don't want you to touch this a decision. This can be so good Graeme Reed: and just give me a number. I'll count it on one, two, three. You really use this one. Yeah, it is crazy. It is crazy. If someone was to start like diving into social media, YouTube content creation, kind of like you and the gang, the gaggle of magicians, unicorn wizards that you hang with. Wes Barker: Yeah. Graeme Reed: If someone, if you were to advise someone on where to start because you've kind of Wes Barker: sure. Yeah. What would be your kind of quick game plan for someone that wanted to do something like that? 100. I have like some really main points I always say, and they're so true that never changed is uh, like start right now. Cause like it's harder than it was yesterday, but it's easier than it will be tomorrow. And uh, and, and like, you're never going to make something perfect. It's not gonna happen. You just gotta be like, okay, this idea is good enough and you stick it out there and you try. And, uh, I mean, like my, my initial viral video, the very first one I ever had late 2014 was I wasn't gonna post it. I sat on it for months because I didn't like it. Like when you watch it, you'll know why the performance isn't great. It's because we didn't rehearse it enough.
Celebrity/Boomerang Magic Trick
It was new. It was just wasn't what I wanted it to be. But I'm like, ah, like what are you going to lose it if it actually sucks? No one will watch it. Literally your view count will be 75 right? So you're not going to walk down the street and have someone be like, Oh man, he makes that terrible YouTube content never going to happen. And if people do like it for whatever reason, whether you like it or not, they might like it. And then you've got millions of views. There's like no downside. It's like if you could go on stage and tell the joke and if it bombed, no one heard it. And if it went well, they would all laugh. Well what a deal. I would take that deal every day of the week. And you have that on YouTube. No one's going to see it if it sucks, except for like a hundred people that are your friends and family that follow use. You have to deal with that. But grow up. Let's go. It's your job. Just do it man. Just stick it out there and learn as you go. Don't don't be like, well I need a guy to edit and they got to do my thumbnails and stuff. Man, go on YouTube and learn. That's what I've been doing. I learned Photoshop, I learned final cut. You several are in a good enough to sort of skate by and you'll get better, but you're constantly get better your ideas and get better. Kill your babies too man. Like I, I have so much content that's so long and gross like it because I, I like it too much and don't like it so much. Trim it back. I love working at this. Chris is, Chris Ramsey's opened up my eyes to so much the world. YouTube. I thought I was a pretty good utuber and then he comes by and he looks at my video when I'm editing and he's like move. And he just literally take like an eight minute video and he's like, yeah, he has, you have 90 seconds. And I'm like, uh, you know, but it's a ruthless and he's right. He's like, look at all these dead spots. And he's so right. So you just gotta be honest with yourself. It's a ruthless game, man. Aye. But once you get the hang of it and you, and you get a little bit of a thick skin about it, it's so fun and you get to have these ideas and you get to get 'em out in the world, you'd have a magic trick that you're like, eh, it doesn't really suit me. I like it but doesn't suit me. Great. Make it a video. It doesn't have to be in your live show. And that way you get to, you get to experience performing that trick and you never have to do it again.
Naked Magic by Wes Barker (watch her VANISH at the end)
Okay, cool. That was fun. I don't know. I didn't want to, because I lost my teeth awhile ago. I got to implants now. Right. But like these two teeth came out. So I was like, what would I ever, so I just made a magic trick where I had like this clown head with teeth and I got this lady to like take a Nerf gun and shoot teeth out of the clown's mouth. Right? And then I went and I'm like, well you knocked at these two. And I turned around and I didn't have the same ones. It's just a stupid, I can never do it again. Right. But then the other day, Trent chapel trip, the travel channel hit me up and they like want to license that clip for the show they're doing. And I'm like, great. It's a garbage trick that I can never do again. But I'm going to get a check from travel channel just because, so just like good things to happen when you throw shit on the internet. Man. It's wild. Sorry it's a long rant. But I'm very passionate about making contents. I want everyone to do it. No, absolutely. That's an incredible, that's like, uh, cause sometimes you might get some of that, like I might discourage you because I don't want people to do this, but you weren't like coaching people, pumping people up. Do it. Get out there. And especially, cause we're were, magicians were all super creative too. Yeah. And like if people always say that, it's like, Aw man, I don't wanna put this idea out there. Someone's going to steal it. Yeah, probably. But like going in to steal it. If it's good and if it's good, it's going to get seen. The the, the way people see stuffs, no one in Australia is stealing your video or your, your trick. If they didn't watch it and they watch it because this got a million views on it, that's how they ended up seeing it. Right. So everyone already knows it's yours. You want me people like I do this appearing beer cans in my underwear, right. It's got to whatever, couple million views. But people did all time. They send me videos of them doing it. I'm like, Hey man, that's not for sale. And the same with like this like Dick drawing thing, all this stuff. They just take and start doing like, look, I'll do your trick too. And I'm like, okay, cool. But it doesn't matter because it's obviously mine. I put it up there. In fact, I'm actually happy to post a video and have people steal it so I can point to it. It'd be like, Hey look, that was me three years ago or whatever. Right. Instead of the one of those guys who'd be like, Oh, I had that idea back in the day. It's like, well, you never put it anywhere, man. No one knows. It was your idea. So by, yeah, that's true. I guess. I guess if you want to give you an but anything, this is the right topic cranking you up. I am just cranking you up today. Well, I wish I didn't have this wallpaper. I can tell you that right now. This is a, the guy before me had this, so it looks, I'm pretty elaborate. It looks like you, uh, uh, are a fan of tiger King. Wes thank you so much for coming on magicians talking magic. That's great, man. I'm stoked. Happy to be here. I'm fired up. I'm going to watch each other. All the backlog of a sudden even know existed. Now I know. Tell the world. Let's go.