By MIKE CHAIKEN
Shin Lim refers to his talent as sleight of hand, not magic.
Press materials for the entertainer state, “He has no intention of lying to the audience. He performs carefully self-choreographed routines rather than pretending to defy the laws of physics.”
“Magic has connotations of wizardry and witchery,” said Lim, who recently won the talent reality series “America’s Got Talent.” In a phone interview, Lim said, “In my opinion, none of that really exists.”
Sleight of hand, on the other hand, is a skill set and an art form, said Lim.
Shin Lim comes to the Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino Friday, April 26.
While some like Lim who practice sleight of hand learned their skill through apprenticeships, Lim said he learned his tricks by watching YouTube.
“I’m completely self-taught,” said Lim.
Lim’s reasoning for learning sleight of hand echoes the reason why teen boys learn to play the guitar or rap or play soccer.
“I actually started at first because I thought it would get me a girlfriend,” said Lim. He saw his skills as an opportunity to open up conversations with women.
However, in time, Lim said sleight of hand became a hobby he was obsessed with.
In college, illusions and sleight of hand became more important to Lim. He said he had played the piano growing up. But carpal tunnel syndrome had ended his music ambitions. So illusions became his focus.
When he develops a trick, Lim said he takes no single direction to turn his ideas into reality.
But one of his favorite methods of perfecting a trick is to perform it for family and friends who are not magicians. Than he opens up a discussion for comments and suggestions.
YouTube also continues to be a source of inspiration, said Lim. He will watch someone perform a trick for the web and he will try to figure out how to make it his own.
On a show that frequently spotlights vocalists, dancers, and comedians, Lim and his sleight of hand stood out on “America’s Got Talent.” But he went into the competition not knowing if anyone would like his act.
But week after week, Lim found himself moving forward to the finals.
The first few weeks on the show, Lim said he didn’t experience too much pressure to prepare for his performance before the judges. The earlier episodes are taped a couple of weeks apart so he had time to perfect his act before each evening’s competition.
But as the finals grew closer on “America’s Got Talent,” Lim said the performances were broadcast live. Lim said he also now had three days to prepare a new trick. Eventually, Lim was given just one day to prepare a new trick.
Lim’s talent prevailed and he reached the finals.
When Lim stood on stage with only one other performer, he said it dawned on him: “I could actually win.”
“Throughout the whole competition, I thought everyone was much better than me,” said Lim. The other contestants offered higher production values than what he offered.
“I just had a table.”
Liim said he was told by the crew that he was the cheapest performer of the season.
Winning “America’s Got Talent” for season 13 (and winning its spin-off “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” in 2019) has had a definite boost on his career, said Lim. “I’m busier. I’m barely getting any sleep.” (He will be starting a residency at the Mirage in Las Vegas that extends toward 2020.)
But, Lim said he is fortunate because he is getting to do something he loves: “creating magic and doing the best I can.”
Shin Lim comes to the Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket on Friday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, visit Foxwoods.com.
For more information about Shin Lim, go to ShinLimMagic.com.