The Sunday Magazine: Shin Lim

I love stage magic. Ever since I was a small child, magicians who make things disappear and reappear fascinated me. I always wanted to know more. Through happenstance I met a fellow teenager who was the daughter of a magician. Ever wonder what diner is like when you’re a guest at a magician’s house? It is a lot of fun. They never revealed the secret to any magic trick I saw but they did give me a perspective on how to watch a magic trick as it is being performed. When I asked what the most difficult type of magic to perform is, they said in near unison, “Sleight of hand!”. They explained the close-up nature and the dexterity which goes with it adds many degrees of difficulty over a stage illusion. I have been a fan of that style of magic ever since. If there is a street performer doing close-up sleight of hand I always stop for a minute or two. Figuring out a specific magician’s technique is like unraveling a knitted scarf. Once you find the loose thread you can pull it until you pierce the illusion. Which is why the magician Shin Lim is so amazing. I can only pull the thread so far before it stops.

You probably know nothing of Mr. Lim if you aren’t a fan of the talent competition “America’s Got Talent”. I am not a regular watcher, but I saw one of his earliest performances on a YouTube clip. That made me a viewer the nights he was on. He would win the season he was on. Then he would go on and win the all-star competition “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” where they gathered all the best acts from the show over the years. Every one of his performances was flawless sleight of hand.

There are basic techniques and tools which are the foundation of typical sleight of hand magic. Mr. Lim improves the tricks with his amazing dexterity in moving the playing cards around. Along with this he works with a volunteer with whom he excels in bantering with throughout the trick. You might know how some of what he is doing is done but I think only other skilled magicians have any idea of how all of it is being done.

While I was enjoying the performances the show filled us in on Mr. Lim’s backstory. He started out as a musician studying piano until he developed carpal tunnel syndrome which cut short that career. He turned to his other passion, magic, which he had been doing at the same time. He would become more well-known in magic circles culminating in winning a 2015 World Championship in Close-Up Magic. He began to tour and then three years ago he injured the tendons in his thumb requiring surgery. He battled back from that and auditioned for “America’s Got Talent”. His ability to overcome two different injuries is magic in itself.

I’ve included two of the YouTube clips above for you to get an idea at how good he is.

Mark Behnke

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