Canadian and Vancouver Native, Shin Lim dazzles the room full of press and media with his close-up magic and card tricks. Since winning the most recent season of America’s Got Talent, Lim has been gaining a lot of attention and traction in his career. After developing carpal tunnel in both of his wrists at the age of 19, he had to quit playing piano and turn what used to be a hobby into a full time career: magic. I got to sit down with Lim and dig a little deeper into where he got his start, his experience on the show, and where his career is heading into the future.
So, tell me, how did you first get into magic?
Shin Lim: My older brother showed me a super simple card trick, and then immediately I was like ‘Oh my god, that’s incredible’. I thought magic was real at the time, so to see something so incredible done with just a simple deck of cards was kind of mind blowing for me. I figured ‘hey, I gotta learn how to do this’. I asked him how to do the trick, and he said ‘oh, you can learn on YouTube’. So he didn’t actually teach me.
Is there a reason that you prefer to be silent during some of your performances?
Lim: Oh, I’m just terrible at speaking. That’s simply the reason, I’m just really bad at public speaking.
How did you feel performing in front of the likes of Tyra Banks and Simon Cowell?
Lim: It was awesome. They’re really nice, and Tyra was so nice backstage. It really wasn’t that daunting to perform in front of them. The crowd was so nice too. They really applauded and were such a nice audience. People in California were super welcoming.
What is the hardest trick you’ve ever performed?
Lim: Definitely the finale trick, because that was simply the newest. I was just so not used to it. I only had five days to create, practice, and perform it, so it was really a lack of practicing that made it hard. It was a lot of work.
What is your favourite trick to perform?
Lim: The semi-finals performance for sure. It’s the one with the smoke in my mouth. That was the very first act I’ve ever created. It’s my longest act, and I think it is my best one because there are so many intricacies and different facets to it.
If you could perform in front of anyone, who would it be and why?
Lim: Ohhh man. There’s so many people I would like to perform for. There really is, and it changes all the time. I think right now it would be Tommy Wiseau from The Room. I just love the guy, and he’s a legend and personal hero. I was just watching The Room yesterday for probably the fiftieth time.
What has being on America’s Got Talent done for your career?
Lim: It’s given me the opportunity to bring close-up magic to a different platform. As a close-up magician, it’s hard to.. not fulfil your dreams, but to get the message out across to a large number of people. You know, close up magic is close up magic, you only perform for like 6 or 7 people. So, America’s Got Talent is such a unique type of platform because it is the most watched tv show on earth. To be able to get your magic and your style and everything shown on tv and YouTube, and to have people like it; that itself is something that I couldn’t have ever asked for.
Do you have any advice for fellow magicians or those who are just getting started?
Lim: I’ve said this before, try to be unique and try to be different, so I’ll say something else. If you’re ever going to a competition show or if you’re thinking about maybe even doing an actual 2 hour show or whatever, just make sure you’re prepared. So many times I’ve seen some magicians and they’re just not prepared. They practice a trick for like a week, then they go out and perform it. You gotta make sure it’s well rehearsed, you gotta make sure that it’s good. For magic, it’s not like singing. If you mess up that’s fine, but with magic if you mess up then people see how the trick works. You have to make sure you practice it so that you don’t make a fool out of yourself.
How long did you practice for your audition on the show?
Lim: The audition piece was 2 months. The judge cuts was 4 years cause I had been doing that one for a long time. The quarter finals was also 4 years. Semi finals was my longest act, that’s 7 years. And then the finale was only 5 days.
What are you going to do after this interview?
Lim: I’m spending a few days back home in Vancouver, because I need some time to prepare for the tour. Then I’m heading to Las Vegas!
Remind us, what are the dates of the Las Vegas tour?
Lim: Yah! The show is at Paris Las Vegas from November 1st to the 4th. And then, I’m actually doing Broadway with The Illusionists from November 23rd to December 30th.