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Like so many great undertakings, Justin Willman’s magic career started out with a futile attempt to impress girls. Riding his bicycle while wearing rollerblades, a 12-year-old Willman elicited gasps only after he crashed over his handlebars, breaking both his arms. While confined to his hospital bed, he became entranced by the legerdemain of a visiting magician, and started badgering his mother to buy him tricks and classes at a local magic shop. Perfecting his act over the subsequent years, Willman eventually went pro, becoming one of the most booked magicians on the national touring circuit, as well as a bottomless source of behind-the-ear coinage.
In his lively shows, Willman makes viewers question reality with a deft mixture of mind-boggling magic and endearingly off-handed charm. As he told LA Weekly, his act is infused with “a healthy sense of irony and self-awareness. It spoofs the magic that doesn’t know it’s being silly.” It’s a balance that earned him his own Comedy Central special, Sleight of Mouth, as well as his role as host of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and appearances on everything from the Today show to Conan.