Magicians have been entertaining audiences throughout human history, but there’s no better time to see professional magic than right now. Today, audiences can see amazing Las Vegas magic shows and visit incredible magic theaters, and there’s more magic on television than ever before.
One of the best places to see magic today is on America’s Got Talent. Since 2005, AGT has showcased some of the most talented performers in the world, and the competition program has tremendously helped improve magic’s visibility in the public eye.
But being an America’s Got Talent magician isn’t easy. In fact, although nearly 191 magicians have auditioned on the show… no magician made the top 5 until the 8th season!
Nevertheless, many magicians have brought a huge amount of entertainment value to the show. As a full-time professional magician and mentalist, I’ve seen hundreds of live magic performances! Here’s my favorite America’s Got Talent magicians:
The Best Magicians on AGT
Mat Franco is the first magician to win America’s Got Talent (all the way back in season 9), and when you watch this video, you can see why.
Ask any experienced magician, and they’ll tell you that it can be incredibly difficult to share the stage with celebrities. Why? Because unlike most audience members, celebrities are very comfortable on stage. They’re used to being under the bright lights, and they know the audience loves them! Some of them also love being the center of attention. That makes them unpredictable, and far more difficult to control.
But in this video, Mat handles Rosie and Howard perfectly! When Rosie or Howard make a joke, he laughs and goes along with it! When they put the cards in inappropriate places (which he KNEW was going to happen), he lets them get the laugh. Mat has space in the routines to let them shine. But when he needs them to count the cards, he asks audiences to join in… ensuring that they’ll do it slowly, and fairly. Very smart!
Mat won AGT for a reason. He has it all… showmanship, skill, and a fun, positive personality that people can’t help but like. But he’s also undeniably in control. When audiences can see that the performer is in control, it puts them at ease, because they know that they’re in good hands!
Mat has the “Best Inspiring Magic Show” in my Best Las Vegas Magic Shows article. You can get tickets for his show “Mat Franco: Magic Reinvented Nightly” at the LINQ Hotel in Las Vegas. Learn more here.
Eric Chen auditioned in Season 14 of AGT, and made it all the way to the semifinals. While all of his performances are fantastic, my favorite is the act he auditioned with, “Ribbon.”
“Ribbon” was the routine that Eric performed at the 2018 World Championships of Magic (FISM). This act won Eric the coveted Grand Prix at FISM, which is a tremendous accomplishment. I honestly think it’s one of the most beautiful, skillful, thematically consistent pieces of magic that I’ve ever seen.
Don’t get fooled into thinking this is special effects! This is exactly what it looks like LIVE and in-person. Eric is a true master of the craft.
Piff the Magic Dragon
How can you tell that a contestant doesn’t care about winning? When they start eating a sandwich during the judge feedback!
Piff the Magic Dragon debuted on Season 10 of America’s Got Talent, and his appearance was magical, funny, and hilariously irreverent. While other contestants were saying that winning AGT would be a “dream come true,” Piff acted like he didn’t care at all. And it worked like magic.
Piff is a creation of UK magician John van der Put. And Jon had the courage to play it straight all the way to the end. And the judges noticed… with Piff winning the Golden Buzzer!
Other magicians DID magic. Piff WAS magic. And while he didn’t win the competition, he did win the Golden Buzzer! Today, Piff is one of the most successful AGT magicians in history, and currently headlines his own show at the Flamingo Showroom in Las Vegas. Learn more here.
Anna appeared in season 18 of America’s Got Talent. As you can see in this clip, she not only amazed the judges… she amazed herself!
Anna has charm and skill, but what really makes her performance so special is her sense of vulnerability. It’s something that’s missing from most magic acts, and I think it really helped her connect with the audience and judges alike.
Here’s the thing: AGT is a HUGE stage. You’re performing for thousands of people in a large arena, and for millions more at home. ANY seasoned entertainer would be intimidated. The vast majority of magicians would simply put on a “mask of confidence” and act as if they’re completely in control, but Anna wasn’t afraid to admit that she was nervous. It was an honest and endearing moment, and it made a huge impression on the audience.
The judges loved Anna, and I think you will, too! I dare you to watch the conclusion of her performance without a BIG smile on your face. Check out her instagram page here.
Do you like elegant sleight-of-hand that looks like REAL magic? If so, then Shin Lim is the America’s Got Talent magician for you.
Every performance from Shin Lim is filled with multiple moments of magical poetry. Shin’s magic is quick, visual, and evocative.
Shin has been making waves in the magic world for many years. While my favorite performance of his was from Penn & Teller: Fool Us (watch it here), his appearances on AGT prove that he knows how to get a HUGE audience to care about small magic.
I saw his show “Limitless” with mentalist Colin Cloud in Las Vegas last year, and the audience loved them both. Very few “close-up” magicians can entertain a stadium audience, and Shin Lim is in that rarefied company. For show info visit the Limitless site here.
There’s Some Truly Great Magic on America’s Got Talent
As an experienced corporate magician, I’ve seen countless magic performances over the years. While nothing compares to a live, in-person performance, AGT is very often the next best thing.
All in all, America’s Got Talent has been very good for the art of magic. Because of AGT, audiences around the world have had a chance to experience world-class magic that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to see.
I hope magicians on America’s Got Talent continue to entertain audiences for years to come.