Corporate lawyer-turned-entertainer thrives in bringing joy to girls and boys
Ian Quick remembers the day he got hooked on magic.
Although he had seen television specials featuring David Copperfield and Doug Henning, the first time he encountered tricks in person was at a magic shop at Canada’s Wonderland when he was 20 years old.
He knew he wanted to try it out, and the shop owner directed him to buy a book. After mastering a few tricks, someone offered to pay him to perform at a birthday party, and the rest is history.
Quick enjoyed performing but didn’t initially plan on making a career out of it. In fact, he used his hobby to pay his way through law school, and became a corporate lawyer. However, it wasn’t long before he found he was unhappy in that work, and that his happiest times were during the weekends when he had magic shows. “The day before my 30th birthday, I quit law and went into show business,” he says. “I never looked back.”
Fast-forward to today, and Quick’s business is thriving. His business, BirthdayPartyMagic.ca offers professional entertainment for children at birthday parties, company picnics, fairs, and other events. “There’s a sense of wonder with what we do,” says. It’s true, few things delight and amaze like a magic show. A talented performer brings out the innocence in onlookers, and helps you to suspend your disbelief and wonder, ‘how did they do that?’
With the help of his staff, the company offers magic shows, balloon twisting, face painting, puppetry, and even special appearances from superheroes and princesses. They entertain at several parties on a typical weekend, and even more during the summer when they attend festivals and community events. He coordinates the bookings and runs the business, but Quick stays creative and still does performances. In addition to performing at magic shows, Quick has learned to become a master balloon twister. He got into balloon creations because they can appeal to a younger audience who might have trouble grasping magic tricks. He loves building creations with balloons, the more unique the request, the better. “I treat them like LEGO blocks now,” he explains, adding that he’s even learned a few moves from other local “twisters,” which he describes as a tightly-knit community.
All in all, Ottawa’s family-friendly culture has been a boon for business. Quick speaks fondly of the festivals and events where he has performed, such as at the West End Food Truck Rally. Community fairs often hire entertainment, and the children are always excited to see Quick. Even when things haven’t gone as expected – for example, when the weather doesn’t cooperate with an outdoor show – Quick keeps his sense of humor and tries to offer the best performance he can, under the circumstances. He was once hired for walkaround magic at an outdoor event, and the temperature went down to -20 degrees. He describes warming up by the fire in between tricks. “I’m a professional,” he laughs, “sometimes you have to suffer for your art.” Most of the time, he only performs outdoors in summer, and spends cold winter days cozy indoors enjoying “the warm glow of happy kids.”
Even while keeping up with his business, Quick finds time to give back to the community and share his skills. He teaches part-time at Algonquin College as a part of the performing arts department, and he runs magic-themed day camps around the city, where kids can practice the showmanship and physical dexterity needed to pull off a trick. It’s a great confidence builder for kids that show an interest in magic, and a labour of love for Quick. “I like passing on the knowledge,” he says. To balance out his busy schedule, Quick sometimes enjoys the freedom to work from home, where the time spent with his 3-year-old daughter often inspires more creative ideas.
It’s a lot to juggle, but Quick says it’s worth it, and he’s proud of his job. “When you see people’s faces,” during a magic show, Quick says, “for the moment, they’ve forgotten all their troubles. They become a kid again.” It’s the sense of wonder and delight from the children – and adults – that attend his shows that keeps him hooked.
Quick knows he’s making a difference. During a recent magic camp at a local school, he noticed one of the instructors watching him closely while he performed. The next day, she approached him with a photograph from her eighth birthday party.
“Here we are, practically 20 years later, and she remembers that,” he says. The instructor said she was interested in magic for years after that party. “It made me feel old,” Quick jokes, “but at the same time, it made me feel so good to know the kind of impact I’ve had. It’s gratifying to see that you can create these kinds of memories for people.”