Shin Lim wins America's Got Talent: 6 things about the Singapore-raised magician

Magician Shin Lim was the winner in the latest season of America's Got Talent on Sept 19, 2018.
Magician Shin Lim was the winner in the latest season of America's Got Talent on Sept 19, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

Magician Shin Lim, who reportedly grew up in Singapore, became the latest winner of NBC television show America's Got Talent on Wednesday (Sept 19).

The 26-year-old Canadian-American won US$1 million (S$1.37 million) and a three-night residency in Las Vegas.

His Singapore-born parents had moved to Canada for his father to complete his postgraduate studies.

Lim was born in British Columbia, Canada, on Sept 25, 1991. He is the second of three sons.

When he was two years old, Lim's family returned to Singapore, where they lived till he was 11. The family later moved to Acton, Massachusetts.

"For me, the whole thing was kind of like a dream. When Tyra announced my name, I went into a state of shock," Lim said on Wednesday, referring to host Tyra Banks.

Here are five things about the close-up magician.

1. He had dreamt of being a concert pianist

Lim was drawn to music from as early as six years old, but the piano was not his first choice. His grandmother bought him a violin, which his father required him to practise for 15 minutes daily.

But Lim smashed the violin one day and decided he wanted to play the piano.

"I practised three hours a day since I was nine. My parents, my friends, my teachers, they all thought that I was going to be a concert pianist so that was my vision as well," he said.

After high school, he enrolled in the School of Music at Lee University, a liberal arts Christian college in Tennessee.

But at age 20, he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes pain and numbness in the wrist, forcing him to give up his piano career.

He fell back on magic, which he picked up as a hobby when he was 16 and found he had a flair for even then.

"My magic is very much like playing a piano. It's sequential. Most magicians talk, make jokes, there's a lot of patter. Mine is always music-driven," Lim said. He often performs in silence to music, such as film soundtracks.

He said that his approach to magic is inspired by three movies: Birdman, Inception and Transformers.

 

2. He first learnt magic tricks from YouTube

Lim first became interested in magic after his older brother showed him a YouTube video that explained a card trick one summer's day.

He had previously thought that magic was only for professionals.

Since then, he began teaching himself to perform sleight of hand tricks on YouTube. He was so passionate about magic that he would practise about eight hours each day.

He also developed his own tricks, and once he perfected them, he would sell them to interested fans online. He sold his first trick in 2011, an achievement that he said had made a future in magic "feel real".

3. In 2015, he became the 'Olympian of magic'

Lim was named champion of close-up magic at the Federation Internationale des Societes Magiques World Championship, which is known as the Olympics of magic, in 2015.

The competition is held every three years and Lim first participated in 2012, where he came in sixth.

Shortly after winning the world championship, Lim appeared on television show Penn and Teller: Fool Us, successfully fooling American magician-comedian duo Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller.

His performance on Fool Us went viral after it was uploaded on YouTube, attracting more than six million views.

This opened the doors for performance invitations from around the world and he was later invited to perform on the show for a second time.

However, he previously told the Boston Globe: "I feel like a lot of Americans don't know who I am yet. I perform way more outside than inside America."

4. His best routines

Among Lim's best known routines is one called the SSS - Sleeveless Silent Smoke. It involves producing a small amount of smoke, seemingly from thin air, to dramatise parts of his performance.

This signature effect appeared in his two television appearances on Penn and Teller.

"That is the only use of smoke I've seen in a magic trick that was sincerely beautiful," said Teller.

"We caught some stuff that you did... But at the end of that, even with the little moves that I saw, I felt it was perfect," he added.

Lim's other signature routine, called 52 Shades of Red, involves changing the colours of a deck with a swipe of the hand.

5. After an injury, he feared his career could come to a halt

In March 2016, Lim injured two tendons in his left thumb while rehearsing a new trick.

He had to undergo surgery and was unable to perform magic for a month. Then, he had feared that he would have to give up his career.

However, he recovered quickly through intensive therapy sessions.

In May 2016, he was able to pull off a 30-minute show with ease, including his famous 52 Shades of Red.

6. Where did he propose to his girlfriend?

On a magic show, of course. Lim is engaged to Australian Casey Thomas. He proposed to her on Aug 20 last year during a magic show at the House of Magic in Macau in front of more than 2,000 audience members.

Sources: Boston Globe, People.com, Metro, Hollywoodlife.com, The New Paper