The Shape I’m In: Keith Barry, magician

KEITH BARRY’S new hypnotic show, You’re Back in the Room, got massive ratings from when it premiered on TV3 in March. 

Ratings were impressive in Britain too and the show is set to head Down Under after the format was sold to an Australian broadcaster.

“People are hugely fascinated by the workings of the human mind and by my being able to hypnotise them and get them to do things they wouldn’t normally do,” he says.

No matter what hair-brained deeds Keith gets his subjects to do, nobody has ever come back and complained, he says.

“With hypnosis, the whole idea is to get rid of inhibitions and free up somebody’s mind to allow them act in a way they wouldn’t normally. People enter it willingly. 

"They know going in they’re going to do something outside their boundaries or rules. Most of them end up being more positive. When I’m taking them out of hypnosis, I instil a sense of positivity they’ve never felt before.”

Almost a decade on, Keith’s TED Talk remains in the top 20 of most viewed TED Talks. “For it to be still in the top 20, I find just amazing. It has brought me a lot of work. 

"Somebody in Hong Kong saw it and I ended up going there to do a corporate gig. But when I look at myself on that TED Talk, I cringe.

I was a chubby, spiky-haired young fellow,” says the 38-year-old father of two. His children Breanna and Braden are aged six and three.

Last year, Keith’s Brian Hacker series reached more than 1.6m viewers over a six-week run. The series is currently airing on TV3 on Saturday nights at 10pm.

What shape are you in?

I’m in really good nick. I have to stay in shape for the physical endeavour stunts I do. I work out a lot. I have a personal trainer. I go two or three times a week. I’m on a diet where I photograph everything I eat and send it to her.

It makes me guiltier about having that piece of chocolate or ice-cream. For escape stunts, I do flexibility stuff. If I’m doing acts that involve holding my breath, we do a lot of cardiovascular training.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I have smoothies in the mornings — sometimes kale, cucumber, coconut, almond butter and water. Other times, I have a fruit and berry mix with added vitamin C. I might have steak and egg too to get a lot of protein in.

Guiltiest pleasure?

If I’m eating meat, like steak or bacon, I love to eat the fat. At weekends, I’d maybe have an ice-cream.

What would keep you awake at night?

I’m a terrible sleeper because I work all the time. I stay up late almost every night working, whether it’s on a TV or live show. I come up with new ideas, do research, watch loads of TED talks or find psychology articles.

I go to bed at 3am or 4am and get up at 8am. I do that for about three months. Then I crash, burn and get sick for about a week.

How do you relax?

Fishing. I went fishing recently on the River Lee. There were eight of us. I was the only one who landed a fish that day — a 3.6kg salmon.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

David Copperfield. Also Pink, I’m a big fan, I’d love to do some magic for her. I’d invite Ricky Gervais because he’d be a good laugh. And Lee Evans — I find him hilariously funny. I’d invite the Pope — I’d love to do a séance with him.

What’s your favourite smell?

Roast dinner cooking on a Sunday — just waiting for it makes my mouth water.

What would you change about your appearance?

My nails. I have the worst nails in history, the worst nails of any magician. I can’t seem to manage them at all.

When did you last cry?

I don’t cry very often so I can’t remember.

What trait do you least like in others?

I don’t like people being negative, whinging or moaning. If you’re in a situation you’re not in control of, just change.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

I’m probably too blunt. I need to soften myself a bit. I’ve experienced a lot of unexpected things — that hardens you sometimes. I need to bring out my softer, more empathetic side.

Do you pray?

I pray in my own way, not regularly and I wouldn’t say structured prayers. What I’m praying to I’m not sure. I’d be a firm agnostic.

What would cheer up your day?

Just people smiling. I love being around positive people. I’m a very happy-go-lucky person for the most part. I’m very conscious of saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – that can make people’s day a bit easier.



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