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Campus magician auditions for America’s Got Talent

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Izzy Salant left campus for New York City at 5 a.m. on January 27. He was heading to the America’s Got Talent audition with a magic act he had been preparing for weeks.

“I was so nervous I almost didn’t audition,” said Salant, a sophomore journalism and theater major. “I literally could not speak at one point, and my friend had to calm me down. I’ve never been that nervous in my life.”

“But the second I got in the room, the nerves calmed and I was able to audition.”

Salant has been practicing the art of performing tricks for six years, specializing in sleight of hand, which is a mixture of techniques used in close-up magic.

For his audition with America’s Got Talent, Salant said he practiced on average 15 to 20 hours per week. His practice ranged from learning a new trick in his room to actually giving a performance.

“Performing is, for magicians, kind of like practice because half of what we do is stuff you can’t see and half of it is the performance of it,” Salant said.

The trick Salant performed during the audition involves a suitcase containing a deck of cards with a three-digit combination lock. Salant selects four volunteers from the audience, three of whom each pick a card from a deck.

Magically, the numbers from the cards form the combination that unlocks the case. The fourth volunteer is asked to think of any card from the deck. When Salant opens another deck of cards waiting inside the case, the chosen card is the only card face-down in the deck.

“I came up with the idea because I bought the briefcase before I went to college to hold my cards since I was tired of carrying around [decks of cards and equipment] everywhere … and I was thinking I could do something really cool with this,” Salant said. “So I decided to prepare it — I started working on this trick in September, got it down by December, and got the performance down over break.

Salant learned most of his tricks from books, as well as from professional magicians who would give him advice and techniques to improve. “A lot of it is just me reading and figuring stuff out,” Salant said.

“What people don’t realize is a lot of tricks that people see, even though they look new … A lot of them are basically variations of the same trick,” said Salant. “Routines I develop myself, as in how I perform a certain trick. But a lot of tricks I learn from other magicians,” Salant said.

Salant’s fascination with magic began when he was four years old. His teacher performed silly tricks such as pulling a coin out of the ear during class. “I was really amazed,” Salant said.

While magic was a sense of enchantment for young Salant, it was also a sense of solace for him during difficult times.

“When I was in fifth grade, my mother committed suicide … It was a while ago and I got really upset. I was depressed so I tried to find an outlet on how to escape from the world and I found performing,” Salant said.

Salant said he hopes to spread joy to audiences with his magic tricks.

“If I can help someone escape for two minutes, make them not think about the test or not think about a break-up or something like that, and make them happy … That’s why I perform,” he said.

Salant decided to audition for America’s Got Talent because he wants to put himself out there as a performer.

“I want to be on America’s Got Talent, honestly, for publicity reasons because I’m not considered as a professional even though people have hired me before,” Salant said. “I feel like if I got on, it could advance my career.”

Salant is expecting to hear back at the end of February or early March.

Email My Ninh at [email protected]

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The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department
Campus magician auditions for America’s Got Talent