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Top 10 Amazing Magicians on America's Got Talent

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
How on Earth do they do it? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten magicians on “America’s Got Talent.” For this list, we’ll be ranking the show’s greatest magicians based on their skills, charisma, and performance on the show.
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Top 10 Magicians on America’s Got Talent

How on Earth do they do it? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten magicians on “America’s Got Talent.” For this list, we’ll be ranking the show’s greatest magicians based on their skills, charisma, and performance on the show.

#10: Jon Dorenbos

Jon Dorenbos has quite the story. When he was just twelve years old, his father killed his mother, and Dorenbos was sent into foster care, where he took up magic as an escape. Even during his career in the NFL, magic remained close to his heart - a passion evident in his brilliant performances in “AGT’s” season 11. His card trick during the judge cuts earned him a standing ovation and a Golden Buzzer, and in Finals he explained how magic saved his life while cards signed by the judges materialized out of thin air. His ripped-up card trick in the season finale led to him placing third in the competition overall.

#9: Collins Key

After falling in love with magic as a young boy, Collins Key studied at the Magic Castle and cut his performing teeth on countless private functions. He nailed his audition for “America’s Got Talent’s” eighth season by lighting a dollar bill on fire, then somehow retrieving it from a sealed popcorn bag. Mind-bending tricks like this carried him throughout the season; in quarterfinals he predicted the judges’ tweets, and during Top 12 Finals guessed which paper bag held host Nick Cannon’s watch. He eventually placed fifth, making him the first magician in the show’s history to reach the top five.

#8: Derek Hughes

Derek Hughes was an…interesting magician, and certainly one of the show’s most unique. His audition set the comedic and idiosyncratic tone of his act, as he made a card chosen from a deck reappear inside his butt crack. However, he went on to prove he was just bringing more to the stage than just belly laughs. His quarterfinals performance saw him making cards materialize in his coat pocket, while in the semifinals he re-assembled a book out of ripped-up pieces of paper. Alas, his finals trick involving ropes received poor reviews, and he was eventually eliminated before reaching the top five. But hey, thanks for the laughs.

#7: David & Leeman

David and Leeman were already acclaimed performers before appearing on “America’s Got Talent,” and their performance on the show only reinforced their reputation. Their audition was goofy but fun, as they used a hands-on technique they dubbed “pressure phrenology” to take away judge Howie Mandel’s ability to read. They advanced straight to the quarterfinals, where they performed an incredibly elaborate trick that involved predicting the longest word on a page torn from one of the judge’s own books. The duo eventually reached the top twelve finals but were eliminated after a complex trick involving lottery tickets failed to impress the viewers.

#6: Oz Pearlman

Mind reading acts can really be hit or miss, but Oz Pearlman pulled his off with panache. During auditions, Pearlman seemingly read the minds of judges Heidi Klum and Mel B correctly guessing a number under 100 and specific details regarding Mel’s vacation. He subsequently impressed viewers enough with his mentalist tricks to reach the finale, where he not only correctly guessed what invisible card Heidi would pick but made said card randomly appear in his hand. This trick impressed viewers, and he was sent to the top five instead of Derek Hughes. We wonder if he predicted that?

#5: Piff the Magic Dragon

Piff the Magic Dragon is one of the show’s most exceptional magicians. And while his ridiculous dragon costume is certainly unique, his magic was impressive enough to make him more than just a novelty performer. His audition alone was mindblowing, winning a flabbergasted expression from Heidi as he seemingly transformed one card into another right in front of our eyes. He also got himself a Golden Buzzer by making a signed card appear in an unopened can of dog food. His charisma and unbelievable tricks have made him one of the show’s breakout magicians, proving that magic can be just as fun as it is impressive.

#4: Smoothini

Simple sleight of hand is one thing. But Smoothini elevates the art to the closest thing there is to real magic. In his audition, he coughed up an entire deck of cards, plucked others out of thin air, and wowed judges with just two red balls and a salt shaker. He upped his game in the quarterfinals, which saw him changing the value of paper bills, making them disappear, and completely removing their federal seals. While Smoothini failed to make the finals, his exquisite sleight of hand tricks were nothing short of jaw-dropping.

#3: Steven Brundage

Rubik’s Cubes are known for being difficult little buggers. Not so for Steven Brundage. Brundage’s audition saw him placing an unsolved Rubik’s Cube into a paper bag, snapping his fingers, and retrieving the now-solved cube to a shocked panel and audience. If that wasn’t amazing enough, his judge cuts performance had him solving cubes in a manner of milliseconds simply by tossing them through the air.While his act progressively grew more complex throughout the show’s run, his simplest were arguably the most impressive, and they left viewers and judges shaking their heads in wonder.

#2: Mat Franco

We knew Mat Franco was going to be special from day one. In his amazing audition, he used a card trick to illustrate a story about his magic career, and then transformed them into pictures of the judges. We have no idea how he did it, and it only gets better from there. He later teleported Mel’ Bs phone into a seat cushion and won a standing ovation with an inventive ball and cup routine. Yet he still outdid himself in the finale, miraculously transferring cards to guest Rosie O’Donnell to judge Howard Stern without touching either - and becoming the first magician to win first place on the show.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

The Clairvoyants

Tom London

Mike Super

#1: Shin Lim

There are only a handful of household names in the magic industry. Shin Lim will soon be one of them. His mysterious persona and use of music are captivating, but his illusions are simply breathtaking. Despite suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, Lim has completely mastered sleight of hand, and shocked the judges with card tricks that included conjuring them from nowhere, making them disappear again, and even pulling them from his mouth - all amid billows of smoke. His performances won him the number one spot and left judges and commentators at a complete loss. There is only one reasonable explanation – he’s a warlock, and we’re witnessing real magic for the first time.
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