Magic in the air at The House of Humor

Kevin Pinnell spent much of his childhood in a magic shop just down the road from his house in Montclair,...

By Isaac Bonnell

The House of Humor
Owner: Kevin Pinnell
Opening date: Sept. 1
Address: 1208 Bay St. Suite 101
Square footage: 600
Phone: (360) 647-5653
Web site:

Few people in town know Kevin Pinnell by his real name — he is more commonly known as the Balloon Guy from the Farmer’s Market.

“There are a whole lot worse things to be called than the Balloon Guy,” he admits.

But Pinnell has more than just balloon tricks up his sleeve. He is also an accomplished magician and entertainer and over his 25-year-career he has performed in major venues from Disneyland to Paris.

“You could say I’m a balloonist or a magician, but I consider myself a variety artist,” he said. “I’m more of a vaudevillian kind of performer.”

Pinnell first got into magic tricks at the age of 9 when he learned how to do the classic moving-thumb trick. From there, it was on to card tricks and
pulling quarters out of ears.

He spent much of his time at a magic shop just down the road from his house in Montclair, Calif. That store was also called The House of Humor and Pinnell said he is modeling his business after that one — from giving out free tricks on birthdays to the way he organizes the tiny shop.

“Every magic shop I remember from my childhood is small,” he said, adding that they usually had walls covered floor-to-ceiling with magic tricks. “I want kids to be totally overwhelmed and amazed when they walk in.”

Pinnell has a goal to someday offer 20,000 different magic tricks in his shop and he is slowly getting there by adding about 50 new items a month.

Most of the items are under $5 and he has an entire case of items under $1.

“Eighty percent of the stuff in here is for people who have very little previous experience,” Pinnell said.

And Pinnell is very serious about making sure that everybody who buys a magic trick knows how to do it before leaving the shop.

“I’ll teach anyone any trick they buy, even the straightjacket escape,” he said, pointing to the $195 jacket hanging on the wall.

For those interested in perfecting their magic tricks, Pinnell offers classes tailored to various skill levels. And for those who just need a laugh, Pinnell also performs for birthday parties and other events.

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