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.


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eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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