KEITH Barry is demolishing a breakfast roll when I meet him in a local bar to talk about his latest escapades. Not a bother on him despite the fact one of his stage tricks went dangerously wrong only days before resulting in him falling unconscious and paramedics being called onto the stage of his show “8 Deadly Sins” at the Olympia theatre.
The trick, in which Keith is tied to a chair by two members of the audience, with his face wrapped in cling film, involves the magician untying himself and removing the cling film before the lack of oxygen affects him.
However, this time round things didn’t go according to plan. As is his wont, Keith shrugs off the incident and claims the media were making it into a bigger thing than it was. “The idea is I get two random guys to tie me up as tightly as they can to a chair. I tell them I will give them €250 each if I can’t escape in less time than it takes them to tie me up. One of the guys on Friday night was a sailor so he knew his knots! I couldn’t get my hands or arms out and at about two minutes I fell back. I passed out and my crew knew something was wrong when I didn’t move. I blacked out for 30 or 40 seconds and had a bit of concussion but I was grand. I didn’t need to be hospitalised. I knew at some stage with this trick I wasn’t going to get out of it and it just happened to happen on Friday night.”
He finally concedes the incident did shake him up a bit. “My dad is one of my biggest supporters and he has been telling me for ages not to do this trick. But I got up on stage on Saturday night and did it again. Yeah of course I was a bit freaked out. I was really apprehensive about doing it. But look that’s what I do. I’m always getting injured.”
Keith will wind up “8 Deadly Sins” in September. “I tend to tour a show for about a year. Then I get bored. I like to change it up a bit. A show like 8 Deadly Sins is really extreme. It’s about magic, mind reading, escapology, with a bit of profanity and nudity and if you don’t like any of that, don’t come and see it.”
Although he still appears as non chalant as ever, you can tell Keith is very conscious of the fact that his antics don’t just affect him anymore. He has a wife and child to consider too. Maybe this is why he is setting up the Keith Barry Consultancy Clinic next year with a view to teaching hypnotherapists his techniques.
Anyone watching Ireland AM recently will have seen Keith helping people to overcome extreme phobias within one session with him. “There was a woman who was petrified of balloons. She couldn’t even be in a room with them and by the end of the session, she was popping them with a pin. There was a woman who was terrified of chocolate and another person who was so scared of snakes, they left a baby unattended on a table because the child had snakes on their babygro.”
He says what he does is give people the tools and techniques to reprogramme their sub-conscious mind. “That’s where phobias lie. I really enjoy this kind of work and have been doing it for years but people have never seen me doing it before.”
Keith is also currently writing a book which will teach people to reprogramme their sub conscious mind. “It’s not a new departure for me. It’s really a natural progression.”
As he finishes his breakfast and prepares to go fishing with his buddies, David Burke and Cian Foley, he says he wished he had more time to spend in Waterford. “I don’t get back often enough but when I do I like to spend time in Tramore, go to Downes for a pint. Cian bought me a bottle of their whiskey for Christmas and I love it!”
On a more serious note, the tragic death of his grandfather Paddy Barry, after a robbery at his home in Mount Sion Avenue in 2009 had a major impact on Keith. “It’s a sad state of affairs that three years on no-one has been caught. Waterford is a small place. Where my granddad lived was a busy part of town. My dad and myself are actually having a meeting with the gardai in Waterford today in relation to my feelings about the inquest and to get some more questions answered. There were a lot of holes in the case and a lot of questions unanswered and we are not happy about it. Nothing is going to bring granddad back but we would like to feel we’ve got the whole story.”
As he heads off to go fishing with ‘The Boys’, he certainly doesn’t look like a fella who has a had a narrow escape from suffocation days earlier. He grins when I tell him to mind himself. I suspect he has no intention of doing so!
8 Deadly Sins takes place in the Forum on September 15.