The U.C. Grand Room room was popping on Wednesday, April 19, when comedian, magician, and balloon artist John Cassidy performed a hilarious show for Western students.
The record-holding and critically acclaimed entertainer, and self-proclaimed “balloon guy,” kicked off his act by lapping the room distributing more pre-made balloon sculptures than the roughly 60 audience members. Once everyone had at least one balloon animal or article, Cassidy proceeded to deliver a show that spanned through fast quips, startling surprises, balloon art, and card and other magic tricks.
But this show wasn’t the standard run-of-the-mill kids’ balloon show. Although Cassidy has performed for such audiences as Disney cruises, NBC’s Today Show, and even the White House, the flexible comedian also has experience in Las Vegas comedy clubs, on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and of course at college campuses, among many other venues.
Cassidy’s performance was unique in that it actually encompassed a surprising amount of pessimism and edgy commentary buried in upbeat music, sound effects, and laughter. The energetic comedian pondered the failures of love, feelings of insecurity, and lack of fulfillment in a way that the audience enjoyed and invited.
“He was using this dark humor that was absolutely tantalizing to your brain,” WCU student Tristan Clodfelter said.
Ches Greene, another student in attendance, agreed.
“It made me go down deep in my heart. I was expecting some corny guy, but we got something totally different.”
Cassidy wasn’t cold-hearted though, even if his joke content was grim. While he and his family packed up his gear, he agreed to make one student a personalized balloon gift, because she said she’d had a bad day.
The act was based largely around volunteers who, through magic tricks and quirky balloon art, were shocked, embarrassed, complimented, and even given relationship advice. The students who aided Cassidy in his show received personal balloon gifts, candy, and even money.
Aside from volunteers, Cassidy’s show would’ve been impossible without the backstage help of his wife, Jennifer Cassidy, and the loving support of his very young daughter, Kayla, who was also behind the curtains.
Below is a YouTube video published by Guinness World Records of Cassidy’s largest balloon sculpture ever made.
After the show, some students tried to almost no avail to blow up some of Cassidy’s extra modeling balloons. Tristan Clodfelter claimed he blacked out for a couple seconds trying to muster the air to do the job.
Cassidy’s advice to me on blowing up balloons was: “You just blow in the end of the hole, and keep it up. It hurts, you know? But that’s okay!”
The performer expressed great joy about the Western Carolina audience.
“You are the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life,” said Cassidy. “We’re not used to that, so thank you. We’re from Philadelphia – they call it the City of Brotherly Love… but they’re not nice, and I’m prepared for that. My show is normally geared to people being terrible, and I couldn’t be mean to you people.”
Last Minute Productions organized the event and hosted Cassidy for his hit of a show. Next Tuesday, April 25, LMP will be hosting magician Nash Fung at 7 p.m. in the U.C. Grand Room.
Below is a slideshow of photos taken during John Cassidy’s WCU performance.