The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

‘Balloon freak’ to perform comedy, magic

John Cassidy has been inside of a balloon. Over the course of his career, he’s routinely inflated a 6-foot red balloon, jumped inside, and bounced around a stage. It’s all part of the performance.

Cassidy has gained the titles of comedian, magician, and balloon artist. His critically acclaimed “Balloon Freak Show” helped earn him gigs on numerous stages, including “Late Night with Conan O’Brian” and “Ellen.” 

At 10 p.m. today, he will be performing in Currier Hall Multipurpose Room in a free event hosted by the University of Iowa Campus Activities Board.

“Instead of doing the same thing you do every night, why not come to the show?” said Juliann Gibson, the group’s newly appointed variety director. “You can always hang out in your dorm, but you never get to see a guy inside of a giant balloon car.”

After years of practicing and performing such acts, Cassidy has secured a number of Guinness World Records. These include Most Balloon Sculptures Completed in One Hour (747) and crafting the Largest Balloon Sculpture (to date) in 2009.

Even with these achievements under his belt, Cassidy aims at loftier targets.

“We are in the process of planning a 24-hour marathon record: the most balloon sculptures completed in 24 hours,” Cassidy said.

Though he and wife Jennifer Cassidy reside in Pennsylvania, slews of shows have made them no strangers to travel. Invitations to venues such as the Magic Castle in Hollywood and the Golden Nugget Las Vegas have led them to the West Coast, while numerous appearances at the White House have found them a little closer to home.

Jennifer Cassidy found it impressive that her husband has made a career out of something for which he has a genuine love.

“What is interesting about this line of work is that every day, every show is different,” she said. “Since the show is audience-participation-based, it is never the same show.” 

By his own description, John Cassidy’s show is “a combination of comedy, magic, and really weird things with balloons.”

“I love that our show can give people a way to forget about their worries for an hour and just have a good time,” he said. “My parents gave me a magic set for Christmas when I was 6 years old, and I suppose I just never stopped wanting to perform.”

More than 40 years later, Cassidy’s passion for entertainment persists. He continues to bounce from stage to stage across the country, trailing behind him hundreds of fans delighting in memories left behind by a rare comic-wielding magic and balloons.