“I have never heard an audience so quiet, even before you got into the very sort of personal details of the story.”
That’s how judge David Walliams described the tear-jerking performance by 28-year-old Canberra magician Michael Webb on Channel Seven’s Australia’s Got Talent.
Michael has made a name for himself at birthday parties, weddings, corporate functions and more across Canberra and beyond as Magic Mike. But ever since he pulled out his first deck of cards and wowed audiences with what happened next, there’s been a story he’s wanted to tell. A story about ‘Jack’.
On stage, Michael asked judge Alesha Dixon to shuffle a deck of cards, before instructing Shane Jacobson to choose any card, sign his name on it and show the other judges and audience the card. Michael then took the signed card – without seeing which one it was – and shuffled it into the deck.
As he introduced the curious crowd to Jack, he pulled a jack card from the deck.
“He’s got a loving family and plenty of mates. And they think he’s kind of funny, they always think of him as a bit of a joker,” he said, pulling out a joker card.
“When he’s out on the town with his mates, they really get around him. They call him the king,” he said, drawing a king card.
“Which is kind of ironic,” he continued, as he pulled out – you know what’s coming next – a queen card, “because whenever the night ends up at the karaoke bar, he’s always the one singing Queen.”
The story continued and Michael kept drawing cards that perfectly linked to his story, such as “full house” and “flush” and relevant numbers, all without looking.
“But even on the most joyous of occasions, like Christmas, or even his birthday, he would often look around at the full house of family and friends having such a good time, and he’d stop and think, what’s wrong with me? Like, why can’t I have fun?
“The more he thought about this, the worse he felt, and the worse he felt the more guilty he felt. And all of a sudden, he’d have shame and become flushed with emotion. So what would Jack do? He’d find a nice quiet room in the house and cry.
“You see, Jack was a 28-year-old man and, in his mind, 28-year-old males – they need to be strong and they don’t talk about their feelings.”
Michael said it wasn’t until Jack learned that in the most recent year, 3318 Australians took their own lives did he realise he was far from alone.
“That’s 63 people every single week and, for every person that did, another 20 attempted to,” he said.
“So do you know what Jack decided to do? Jack decided to share his story on Australia’s Got Talent, and by sharing this story today, I hope I can make just at least one person get their head straight.”
By this point, both Michael and the judges were holding back tears. Shane whispered to him, “You’re doing great, mate.”
Michael continued: “I want all Australians genuinely who are struggling with their mental health to remember that without the rain there can be no rainbow.
“So I want all Australians to shine bright like a diamond,” he said, pulling out the very ace of diamonds card Shane had signed earlier.
The judges were blown away, describing Michael’s performance as “mesmerising” and “the perfect act”.
“It was so moving … I’ve been doing this show for a long, long time, and to see something like that was truly special,” Alesha said.
Michael said he was thankful for the deck of cards in his hand, which “helped give me courage and lower my inhibitions”, but felt like an enormous weight was now off his chest.
“I’ve wanted to share this story since 2018, and every year, when I would hear horror stories and days like RU OK? Day would roll around, I kept thinking that maybe I should just do it and put it online myself,” he said.
It was when AGT caught wind of Michael’s achievements in 2019 and reached out that he knew this was his chance.
“To finally have it done and aired – and aired completely – was quite a nice feeling.”
The response also blew him away. Not only have the Black Dog Institute and Menslink reached out to him and asked him to share the story of Jack again with their organisations, but Michael has received hundreds of messages from “strangers” who found him on social media.
One particularly powerful one read: “If you can stand up and tell the world your story, I think I can talk to my friends and family. Thank you.”
“If this can help one person, it’s a huge win,” Michael said.
“So to have more than one reach out has been overwhelming.”