Photo by Arturo Samaniego

Arturo Samaniego
Staff Writer

If you were one of many Friday night partygoers dazzled by card tricks from a magician not too long ago, you’re not alone. Recently, University of California, Santa Barbara student Travis Kim saw some fame on the UCSB subreddit after he posted a video of himself performing magic tricks on Del Playa Drive.

The Bottom Line sat down with Travis Kim to ask him how he conceptualized the video, what got him interested in magic, and other magic-related questions.

The discussion began with how he first came up with the idea to perform card tricks on Del Playa. Kim stated that as his magic and card trick abilities improved he became more comfortable performing for strangers.

“When I was studying in the library and needed a break, I would perform for people around me,” Kim said. “I thought it would be fun to perform for people on DP.”

Kim was initially surprised with how popular his video got. “Most of the time my videos only get a few hundred views, mostly from Facebook friends. This one got 1,700,” he said.

Kim, who credits the popularity of the video to his edit and the reactions of the audience, said, “People are entertained by reaction videos and magic tricks.”

He then went onto recount his favorite reaction of the night, which involved one audience member running away after Kim showed him his card, only to return seconds later, still surprised Kim had produced the card he had chosen.

“It was great, we were all laughing together. Not at the guy but the hilarity of the moment,” he said. For Kim, the best part of making the video were the reactions: “screaming, laughing, cursing; it was fun, I got to meet a lot of new people.”

Magic and card tricks were a relatively recent discovery for Kim. After getting into a bad skateboarding accident his first year at UCSB, Kim had to drop out for two quarters.

“I had a lot of down time in San Jose,” he said. “I saw “Now You See Me” and got interested in magic and card tricks because of one card trick they performed in the movie (the snap change). I later started learning from YouTube videos.”

Kim admitted that at first his interest in magic and card tricks was self-serving, as he mentioned that he just wanted to impress people and was a bit pretentious about it. As time went on, his attitude shifted from wanting to impress people to entertaining them. “The audience makes this hobby fun for me,” Kim said. “[It’s] great to meet new people and bring enjoyment to them through magic.”

On why he thinks people enjoy magic and card tricks so much, Kim asserted that “magic is universally intriguing [since] our minds are made to predict, so when our expectations are upturned we are startled and genuinely intrigued.” Magic to Kim does exactly this. It throws people’s expectations in a loop and entertains them because of it.

“Magic tricks are cheating without getting caught,” Kim said. “It’s sleight of hand and a lot of practice.”

Kim has enjoyed the popularity his magic and card tricks have brought him.

“It has been really cool being recognized as the dude who does magic,” Kim said, citing that campus organizations have asked him to perform at programs, including Woodstock’s Pizza’s trivia night. You can see more of his magic and card tricks on his Instagram account, TKards. 


Apr. 26, 5:18 p.m.: This article has been updated for clarity and accuracy.