Magic sensation

Magic sensation
CARD TRICKS: Magician Shin Lim performing on Penn & Teller: Fool Us.
PHOTO: Youtube screengrab

A young man with a Singapore connection is working his magic all over the world.

The clip of his latest amazing performance has gone viral, attracting more than 6 million views on YouTube.

The Canadian-born, Singapore-raised magician Shin Lim, whose parents were originally from Singapore, kick-started his unconventional career after picking up a simple card trick when he was 16 and he has not looked back since.

Although the 23-year-old turned professional only three years ago, he has won awards from prestigious organisations like Fechter's Finger Flicking Frolic and International Brotherhood of Magicians.

He is also the reigning World Champion in Close-up Card Magic at the International Federation of Magic Societies, considered the Olympics of magic.

But it is his recent appearance on US reality TV competition Penn & Teller: Fool Us that has really cast a spell on the public.

Hosted by Jonathan Ross, the show features magicians from across the US performing tricks in front of famed US comedy-magic duo Penn & Teller, also known as Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller.

If the pair cannot explain how a trick was done and are left dumbstruck, the magician wins a five-star trip to Las Vegas to perform as the opening act in Penn & Teller's show at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino, starting in August.


Lim fooled them all right, with his six-minute self-choreographed routine called the Dream Act, which showcased his mastery over cards.

His episode aired in the US around mid-July and will be shown here on Universal Channel (StarHub Ch 512) on Aug 9 at 12.30pm and 5.30pm.

Lim, who is based in Greater Boston, Massachusetts, told The New Paper in an e-mail interview: "They flew me over in late April to film that episode. It was a great opportunity to be on TV and test whether some of my own invented tricks could fool Penn & Teller."

During Jillette's judging of Lim's performance on Fool Us, the 60-year-old raved: "I believe it is the only use of smoke I've seen in a magic trick, which was sincerely beautiful.

"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."

Lim, who is an admirer of magicians David Sousa, Tommy Wonder, David Stone and David Blaine, teaches magic and gives lectures to professional magicians and enthusiasts.

He did a two-month summer tour in China in 2013, with more than 30 shows in 15 cities, and he performed in front of an audience of thousands - his largest to date - at the Beijing Poly Theatre.

The second of three boys, Lim was born in Canada, where his father Wi-Cher Lim, 52, was doing his post-graduate studies.

The family moved back to Singapore when Lim was three years old, where he enjoyed a "fun, happy childhood".

He attended a PAP kindergarten at Bukit Panjang and Naval Base Primary School before he was homeschooled by his mum Mabel Tan, 55.

The family moved to Massachusetts in the US in 2002.

Lim enrolled in Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, on a music scholarship and pursued a dual degree in piano performance and film technology.

But in 2010, during his first year, he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes pain and numbness in the wrist, but continued to juggle music and magic.

Lim said he copes with his chronic condition "with caution" and eventually quit school in 2012.

"I was already creating new tricks for sale worldwide," he said.

He feels the road less travelled is worth dropping out of college for.

He said: "I loved magic and proved to my parents I was good (by winning World Teen Champion for Close-Up Magic in Las Vegas in 2011).

They were quite liberal and said that if I did not make it by 25, I will go back to college and do something more practical."

But if his achievements are anything to go by, Lim may never need a backup plan.

He said his appearance on Fool Us has opened doors, with opportunities for corporate performances, advertisements, and collaborations with chamber music groups still under negotiation.

"I hope to eventually produce my own close-up live show on the big stage and expand my repertoire of musical magical routines, which takes time and inspiration," he said.

This article was first published on July 30, 2015.
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