This past summer, Rob Ferre hosted the 20-year class reunion for East High School in Salt Lake City. Two decades ago, he thought he’d be attending as the student body president. But he spent his senior year as the “assembly chair” instead. That turn of events, combined with an ongoing obsession with a magic show he learned from local legend James Arrington, set up the punchline to his life story — which is that he makes a living doing what he loves. #TheJokesOnUs #ClapClap
As a child, Ferre saw Arrington perform magic tricks in the middle of his one-man show: “Farley Family Reunion.”
“I was so inspired by this absurd part of the show,” Ferre says. “I bought the video and watched it over and over again. I learned to mimic the tricks.”
The first time he made magic was at a Medieval Day in sixth grade. He also pulled tricks during junior high and high school.
As an LDS missionary in the Canary Islands, he pulled the same tricks out of his sleeve.
“I always had the show in my back pocket,” he says. “I knew the kids would like me if they saw my magic show. And I’ve continued to do tricks at mission reunions and business settings.”
The school’s the thing
As a broadcast student at Southern Utah University, Ferre invented a late-night talk show. He produced it and hosted the gig, which included interviews, skits and monologue guests.
“You could say I’m the former host of the No. 1 rated TV talk show host in Cedar City in its time slot,” Ferre quips.
The fun took a turn for the serious when Ferre’s broadcast duties included covering a late-night shooting the day of the Super Bowl. He was on the phone and on the job with producers from the Salt Lake TV stations, and the pressure was mounting to get past the police tape and get interviews and footage.
“I realized I didn’t want to pursue broadcast news, and so I headed to Disney World after graduation,” he says.
His first weeks were spent directing traffic in a parking lot, which was not the magical experience he had sketched in his mind.
“I dressed in a silly yellow striped sweater and yellow shorts,” he says. “The only silver lining was that we also worked on the trams from the parking lot to the park, and I created my own narrative and turned my tram ride into a Jungle Cruise-esque experience where I would tell jokes and sing songs.”
At the end of the internship program, the students hosted a talent program. And once again, Ferre pulled the magic show out of his back pocket (which had started to be lined with tips from his riders).
One thing led to another … and hi ho … Ferre found himself DJing events at Universal Studios and Nickelodeon Hotel.
“Orlando was a fun place for me,” he says. “That’s where I got my MFE — master’s of family entertainment.”
Back to the Beehive
Ferre returned to Utah in 2006 — just in time to watch the Beck-to-Harline pass in the classic BYU vs. Utah football game. (Entertainers remember emotional performances). And his first Utah gig was in January 2007 when Life of the Party was officially launched. Now the business includes eight DJs trained by Ferre, and the business hosts more than 200 events per year.
The day after this BusinessQ interview, Ferre’s company had eight events where they would be at the mic, creating a happy environment for wedding couples, corporate conventions and charity fund-raisers.
Ferre also speaks at dozens of school assemblies where the kids know him as “DJ Rob.” He is known as the master of ceremonies at corporate gigs, including BusinessQ’s UV50 gala where this magazine was unveiled at the Utah Valley Convention Center.
Working the Network
Ferre has quickly become part of the inner circle of Utah’s speaking and entertaining world. He is the upcoming president of the local chapter of the National Speakers Association, where he also participates nationally. He was the president of the American Disc Jockey Association in Utah for two years, where he grew the membership from five to 15. And he is on the board for the national organization.
Ferre has a mentor relationship with well-known Jason Hewlett, who has helped Ferre go from DJ to emcee to speaker.
“I look at people around the world, and they are skilled doctors and accountants,” Ferre says. “I know what I can do is be in front of a crowd and ease the environment for everyone so they can have fun. I create solutions and entertainment for my clients. In many cases, the CEO is not an emcee or entertainer. I help events run smoother by collaborating with the client.”
Ferre’s signature awesomeness includes finding ways to highlight and celebrate people during an event.
“I’m a facilitator to bring laughter, and to take people on a journey through the event,” he says. “I learned so many of these skills from working at Disney. Events are somewhat like the Jungle Cruise ride where we point out highlights to people and keep them engaged, unified and entertained as we go along.”