Chilliwack’s Matt Johnson was strapped into a straight jacket and hung by his ankles upside down, and had less than two minutes to free himself before two spinning saw blades fell. (America’s Got Talent video)

Chilliwack’s Matt Johnson was strapped into a straight jacket and hung by his ankles upside down, and had less than two minutes to free himself before two spinning saw blades fell. (America’s Got Talent video)

VIDEO: Chilliwack escape artist Matt Johnson dazzles judges on America’s Got Talent

Johnson brought a packed auditorium to its feet with a death-defying stunt

A Chilliwack man turned in one of the most spectacular nail-biting moments in the history of America’s Got Talent.

Matt Johnson appeared on the hit television show Tuesday night (June 8), walking out onto the stage to be judged by Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara, Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and a few million viewers.

The 47-year-old is world-renowned illusionist/escapeologist who has previously appeared on Britain’s Got Talent, Penn and Teller’s ‘Fool Us’ and The Late Late Show.

Before launching into his audition, Johnson was asked by Mandel if he was married, and what his wife thought of his dangerous occupation.

RELATED: Chilliwack escapologist stuns judges on Britain’s Got Talent

“My wife actually asked me to stop doing it because of something that happened just a year ago, and I’ve not done it since,” he explained. “I was working on a dangerous escape and I actually hung myself and drowned at the same time, and I ended up in the ER.”

But Johnson told the judges he couldn’t handle being away from his passion, and he was there to “face his fears and prove that he could do it again.”

Whether out of honesty or showmanship, Johnson added that he’d tried the trick he was about to perform only once, in rehearsal the day before.

“I didn’t pay attention at school, so this is what I do for a living,” he laughed as the audience and judges gasped.

Over the next 112 seconds Johnson was strapped into a straight-jacket and hung by his ankles upside down, attached to a device with two massive circular saw blades spinning at 2000 revolutions per minute.

“I have to get myself out, the right way up and get my ankles free to escape before the saw falls,” he said to a silent theatre. “If not, I’m going to literally be cut in two.”

RELATED: Chilliwack escapologist has audience of millions in reality talent competition show

With Vergara and host Terry Crews shouting ‘Hurry up!’ and Cowell rendered speechless, Johnson succeeded in wrestling his way out of the straight jacket and righting himself a split second before the saws fell. The crowd erupted with a standing ovation and judges were on their feet.

“Anyone who puts himself in this position, the trouble is things go wrong, and that could have been catastrophic,” Cowell said after catching his breath. “But you are brilliant. Brilliant. Respect.”

Johnson got four yes votes from the judges and moves on to the next round of America’s Got Talent. Over 110 thousand people have already checked out his audition on YouTube.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

Like us on

chilliwackEntertainment

Just Posted

(double-click to edit)
Daryl Jolly, his wife Kerry Pagdin, their sons Cole Jolly (left) and Graeme Jolly, and their dogs Gracie and Clover. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College arts chair diagnosed with lung cancer, family launches fund drive

In mid-May, Daryl Jolly developed a chest cough and started feeling fatigued.… Continue reading

TELUS is proposing to construct a 5G tower at Pople Park. Photo: Sheri Regnier
First 5G tower in Trail proposed for placement in popular park

TELUS has a consultation process open until June 28

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Central Mountain Air leaving Castlegar airport in July

The airline says market can’t handle two airlines

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read