A Conversation with Forensic Mind Reader Colin Cloud

Forensic mind reader Colin Cloud visited Jake’s Take for “A Conversation.” (Photo courtesy of IDEAS)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is a pleasure to welcome forensic mind reader Colin Cloud to Jake’s Take.

Known as the Sherlock Holmes of Entertainment, Colin Cloud has entertained audiences around the world. His annual performances at the Edinburgh Festival always sell out and had the distinguished honor of performing at the Royal Variety Performance. He also had the opportunity to perform with the legendary magic group, The Illusionists, as he performed on Broadway and across North America.

However, Colin is a familiar face in the Got Talent universe. He first auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent in 2012, where he impressed judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon, and David Walliams. While he was unable to secure a spot on the Britain’s Got Talent: Series Six live shows, Colin found success during America’s Got Talent: Season 12, where he reached the Semifinals and participated in America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ premiere season.

Currently, Colin is co-headlining a brand new show called Limitless with fellow America’s Got Talent alum and Illusionists performer Shin Lim. Together, Colin and Shin are leaving audiences at the Mirage’s Terry Fator Theatre spellbound. The duo are expected to perform 20 shows throughout October through December.

In this edition of A Conversation, Colin Cloud opened up about his time performing on the Got Talent franchise, the lessons that he learned from the Illusionists, and Limitless.

Jacob Elyachar: When did you get interested in mentalism? How did that passion evolve into the desire to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

Colin Cloud: I was never really interested in magic as such. I did not even really know what mentalism was. I was fascinated with Sherlock Holmes as a kid, this guy who could look at anyone and know everything about them.  That led to me studying science. I went to university quite young. I was 15 when I got accepted. I started at 16 to study forensic investigation. I specialized in criminal profiling. When I was there discovered stand-up comedy, I’d always loved watching comedy on TV but learned about comedy clubs and watching comedians and the idea that these people wanted to stand on stage, which is the number one human fear. They want to put themselves through that, but the awareness they had while they were doing it, that attention to detail, the ability to pay attention to everything in the room was, you know, almost Sherlock Holmes-like. I realized the only way you can learn stand-up comedy is by doing it. So, before I knew it, I was on stage in comedy clubs mixing in all the weird psychological things that I had been learning and developing, and now I get to travel the world doing it.

Colin Cloud found success on America’s Got Talent with his impeccable mind reading skills. (Video property of NBC & Syco Entertainment)

Jacob Elyachar: It has been seven years since you first appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and throughout your time with the Got Talent franchise, you made it onto the America’s Got Talent: Season 12 semifinals and the inaugural season of America’s Got Talent: The Champions. How have you grown as a performer since you first auditioned in front of Simon, Amanda, Alesha, and David?

Colin Cloud:  I think back then, that was, if not the first thing I had ever done on TV, it was undoubtedly one of the very first. I learned a lot from that initial experience about how the TV industry works. I suppose especially with a show like the Got Talent franchise, how they operate, none of it is set up. None of it is fixed, but there are different avenues to approach being involved with the TV show, whether that is you go and audition as an unknown or whether you will have to meet with America’s Got Talent. They approach you and ask you to audition because they’ve then seen you somewhere else. I feel that if they have seen you performing somewhere, like for me, it was within The Illusionists, so that’s still technically my audition for the production team. If they have seen you and they are chasing you to be involved with it, then you are in a much better position immediately because then they are fully aware of who you are and obviously what you are capable of bringing to that show. That’s not to say that if you go in as an unknown that that will not happen, but I think the seven years that passed between Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent, I had massively improved my stage presence, my charisma. Everything about the performance side of what do I, all of that had been massively embellished by then. By the time you saw me on America’s Got Talent, it was just far more entertaining.

Jacob Elyachar: Recently, Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions wrapped up its inaugural season. Fans were surprised that you did not participate on the show? Why did not compete on the show? Did the producers did not call you back or did you have other commitments? 

Colin Cloud: No, my team and I talked to them about doing it, but obviously now that I have the show in Las Vegas with Shin Lim at The Mirage, that takes up so much time and I was literally going to be flying back from Vegas and starting the Edinburgh Festival and there was only maybe 12 hours free where I could be in London in for what would have potentially been the final. There were only two runs for Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions, but basically the only way I could have done it was to be there in that 12-hour window and it was going to be cutting it too fine. We agreed that rather than rush it and do something that none of us potentially would be happy with, better to hold off and perhaps be involved later down the road.


I am the only act who has ever been on Britain’s Got Talent who did not win who has performed in the Royal Variety Performance. The fact that obviously I’ve done that without essentially the backing of Britain’s Got Talent, that’s not to say it didn’t play a part in my progress personally and professionally, I’m the only act who has ever played the Royal Variety Performance which is the prize for Britain’s Got Talent without actually winning it. For them, that was, you know, an exciting hook.

Jacob Elyachar: I noticed that during Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions no act received an “X” from the judges. While during the first season of America’s Got Talent: the Champions, only two acts got buzzed.

Colin Cloud: Oh, really?

Jacob Elyachar: Yes, Simon buzzed both comedian Tom Cotter and Stevie Starr, the Professional Regurgitator.

Colin Cloud: I am going to be very honest with you and say that this is not the type of TV show that I typically watch. That was a reason why, initially, I was not sufficiently interested in being involved with America’s Got Talent. My experience with Britain’s Got Talent had not been dreadful, but I also got to the point in my career where I realized most of the magicians who do well on America’s Got Talent to get snapped up by The Illusionists and get to perform with them. But I was already at a place where I’d done that on my own. I did not feel that there was much to be gained from being involved with the Got Talent franchise again. If anything, it could only work against me. It was like a risk. I was wondering why I would want to do this? I am thrilled I did because the profile and the footage that I got from it were exceptional, and I am beyond delighted with that. At the time, I could not fathom it. So yeah, obviously going back and doing Champions again was going to be a risk, you know, why would you do that again and risk potentially being buzzed or made to be looked bad. But no, I felt like when I went back home to America’s Got Talent: The Champions, I knew exactly what I was going to do, and it was going to be a variation of what I planned for the finale, had I made it there, and we tweaked it for Champions. I was delighted with how they made it look.

Jacob Elyachar: After you appeared on BGT and before you auditioned for AGT, you worked with The Illusionists. How did collaborating with the Illusionists helped you improve your showmanship? 

Colin Cloud: The Illusionists heard about me through the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where I have performed at the festival for the past seven years. They got in touch and said, “Look, we are doing a show in London. We would love to meet with you to find out whether or not you’d be right for the show.” At the time, I think they had spoken with a few other mentalists, and they may be felt at the time that mentalism was not right for the show. Mentalism typically is more a cerebral form of magic in that it’s magic that deals more with the mind and psychological things. For the Illusionists show, which usually is big scale visual illusions, which people can sit back and watch, what I bring to the show is something that is way more engaging and far more interactive. I think there was a risk of how does that fit into their business model about putting a show together. I sent them some footage of me in action, and then they asked to see more in case the footage that I sent them was, you know, a fluke, and I got lucky in that performance. I remember sending them like ten videos almost of the same act in different places, and they realized, thankfully, that I was very consistent and stuff was always very entertaining. It was very much driven by comedy, which was a big thing that America’s Got Talent asked me to play down. They wanted me to be more I suppose mysterious than comedic but live there is far more comedy in what it is I do because I feel that comedy when you have longer on stage. I only had either five or six minutes to showcase my act on America’s Got Talent. They want you to be as amazing as possible. But when I am on stage, I want to make it fun as well so that ultimately, the experience for everyone is as entertaining as possible.

Jacob Elyachar: What have been some of the challenges that you have faced throughout your career? How did you overcome those obstacles?

Colin Cloud: Mainly jet lag and usually going to the gym to run for hours to tire myself out. That is the big one at the moment. As I fly back and forward from Vegas to the UK every other week before Chloe and I moved there permanently. It is exhausting and it really takes it out of you, but I mean professionally, I have been very fortunate that I’ve been surrounded by people who really care about what it is I do and who have helped steer me in the right direction and allowed certain opportunities to come up and arise and make sure that I am ready for them and positioned correctly.


I was timid and reserved as a kid. If you told me when I was a teenager that I would be standing on stage in front of thousands of people with millions watching it all live, I would have laughed at you and then run away and cried somewhere because that’s daunting to that 15-year-old me. The idea of becoming more confident and comfortable on stage is one thing. But now I feel at home on stage and know how almost to conduct the audience. I very much think that when I walk on stage, that is my role. It’s the audience you’re playing, depending on the room layout, can often be in different groups based on the aisles in the audience, and how wide the corridors are in the room, and it very much separates the audience into various blocks. And there’s me on stage as a conductor. It’s very much about harmonizing that audience, bringing them together in sync, so they’re laughing at the same time, gasping at the same time, and ultimately getting everyone to enjoy and sharing in the experience at the same moment.

That’s what I have very much enjoyed learning to hone and master over these past four or five years with The Illusionists, especially learning how to really make sure that every audience that sees you feels like the experience for them is tailored just for them. They are witnessing something happening that will never happen exactly like that again. It’s a very unique moment, and I think when people feel that it’s tailored to them and for them, they appreciate it and love it and treasure it for as long as I will.

Jacob Elyachar: Let’s talk about Limitless, your Las Vegas show with fellow AGT alum Shin Lim. What have been some of the highlights of working with Shin in Vegas?

Colin Cloud: We recently started the show. Limitless is something that’s now looking like it’s going to be in Vegas for a very long time, thankfully. It has been incredibly well received, but it’s in the Terry Fator Theater in The Mirage Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, which is a beautiful theater. It has roughly 1,300 seats and it has been packed every show that we have done so far. Shin and I have worked together a lot. We did a magic convention together in the West End of London years ago. Then we toured New Zealand together for a month a few years ago. Then we did Broadway together last year and, yeah, now we headline a show in Vegas together. Shin and I have really been on quite a journey together and have grown up watching each other’s material and act evolve and as performers how we have evolved and changed and grown and both become more competent and comfortable on stage and as well as our material improving. We ourselves have I think improved massively whilst we are up there.

Shin and I are so different as people and the material that we do. Yet, because of that, we compliment each other perfect. My material is very cerebral, while Shin’s magic is more artistic. It is almost hypnotizing when you see him perform these pieces to music and what audiences are witnessing is under tense conditions. It’s impossible magic done usually with playing cards and other things as well but usually with playing cards that just blow your mind. Everyone who has seen Limitless has said that it is going to be start of something very strong. As of now, we are working on material together so it easily combines our strengths so what the audiences see is genuinely unlike any other magic show they will see in Vegas. That is the beauty of our show that we do not rely on big boxes, dancing girls, and indoor fireworks. What we do is really all about that feeling of real magic, witnessing something truly impossible that the audience are part of the entire time and also they get to hear about our journeys through this world of mystery as we go.

Jacob Elyachar: Let’s talk about social media. Almost every Got Talent act is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Social media could be very easy for singers and dancers, but how is it different for magicians and mentalists?

Colin Cloud: Shin has got a lot of very visual magic that is tailor-made for Instagram and if you do not follow Shin, then you should. Just search for Shin on Facebook, YouTube, et cetera. You will find him do amazing visual magic. My material is more involved because it relies on people. I will be honest, when I was performing on Got Talent, I was very much on social media chatting to people, but I have only ever really used it to promote shows. It has only been as of recently that I have starting thinking up clever ways to use social media. At the moment, I am currently planning how to use social media way more just because it’s fun and it’s interesting to push yourself creatively and artistically to find ways of using that, those mediums and those platforms to share what it is you do with the world. Yes, it certainly is more challenging given that I cannot just sing to the camera, dance to the camera, perform to the camera. I need more often than not someone to be performing with so that you get to experience the type of thing that it is I do. But I feel, like I said, I have now found some very interesting ways to capture that that have not been seen before and I think are going to very much blow people away when they see it all very soon.

Jacob Elyachar: If you had the opportunity to meet with aspiring magicians who want to audition for a show on the Got Talent franchise, what advice would you share with them?

Colin Cloud: I always have two main pieces of advice. One, make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. If you think that you are going to go on that show and become famous overnight then you are delusional. That is not how it works. You need to go on Got Talent ready to share with the world something that they will not have seen before. Also, they need to have lined up what their plan is to do with that spotlight that is being shined on them. When you audition in front of the judges, the attention will very much be on you. It is up to you to then use that to then start the momentum for something else for you afterward. If you win, great, then it makes it easier. But if you do not win it, then how can you go on there and create something that will be remembered for a long time to keep that spotlight shining on you for as long as possible to then promote, ideally, I think certainly for magic, some sort of live show or live experience that you’re going to be involved with?

Because magic live is far better than seeing it on TV, and it’s always a million times more recommended that you see a magic show than watching it on YouTube because that is not, in my opinion, where magic is best viewed. You get a sense of it, but when you are there, it’s an entirely different experience. So that would be number one is to make sure that you know why you are doing it because you need to be ready for it and see where you are headed after that experience. Once you are in the frying pan into the fire type situation, it’s like, “Okay, so what happens now?” And you need to know that.


Secondly is to make sure that when you go on these shows that you are performing things that are unique to you. If you’re a magician who is just buying tricks from a magic shop, learning it, doing it the same way that everyone else does it, and you expect to go on there and stand out, then again, you are kidding yourself because that’s not how this works anymore. You need to make sure that anything you’re performing, for your sanity, in the long run, you apply your personality to it, your own presentation to it, and you make sure that you’re doing it in a way that no one else is.
If everyone sang the same songs the same way with the same instruments, dressed the same, looking the same on these shows, then it would get boring very quickly. The beauty of these shows is that you get to see different personalities, different characters, and I think with magic, a lot of the time people get into magic because they do not know who they are yet. They are a little bit lost, and they are looking for ways to appear more exciting and to connect with people. You need to get past that. You need to work out who you are and what aspects of who you are you can play on, tap into, to make you as memorable as possible to, again, help ensure that you are remembered for as long as possible to ultimately benefit any career that you intend to have after your time on that show comes to an end.

For more information about Colin Cloud, visit his website. You can also connect with Colin on his social media channels. Visit his Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter channels.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Take friend Colin Cloud made his AGT debut on Season 12 when he showcased his mentalism throughout the rounds. […]

  2. […] Take friend Colin Cloud returned to AGT Champions with the show’s first champion Shin Lim. The duo collaborated on an […]

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