David Kwong

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Enigmatist: Magician and New York Times Crossword Writer

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David Kwong: Biography at a Glance

  • David Kwong delights and challenges audiences around the world with his intellectual brand of magic and his expertise in puzzles and illusions.
  • His one-man show, The Enigmatist, which enjoyed sold-out runs in New York City and Los Angeles was described by the Washington Post as a feat of cerebral sorcery.
  • A veteran “cruciverbalist” (crossword puzzle constructor), Kwong creates puzzles for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal.
  • Kwong has an extensive background in television in film, serving as the puzzle and secret code consultant for NBC's Blindspot, the head magic consultant on Now You See Me, and working on other films including The Imitation Game, Ant-Man, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and The Magnificent 7.
  • A TED Talk favorite, Kwong routinely speaks at corporate events about the science of illusion as well as the relationship between AI and creativity as seen in his popular talk, Mentalist vs. The Machine.
  • Click here for an in-depth overview of David Kwong's keynotes, workshops, and programs.



With his expertise in puzzles, secret codes, and illusions, David Kwong delights and challenges audiences around the world with his intellectual brand of enigmas and magic. A veteran “cruciverbalist” (crossword puzzle constructor), Kwong creates puzzles for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal. His TED Talks on magic and puzzles have been viewed millions of times.

Kwong regularly consults on puzzles and illusions for Hollywood. He was the head magic consultant on the worldwide hit film Now You See Me. Kwong has also worked on The Imitation Game, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Apple TV's The Afterparty.

His one-man show, The Enigmatist, sold out a year-long run in New York City in 2019. It premiered at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in September 2021. During the pandemic, Kwong and the Geffen collaborated on the virtual puzzle show, Inside the Box, which Kwong live-streamed 170 times. It garnered a Critic's Pick from the New York Times. 

As one of the most prolific puzzle designers working today, David has designed the perfect team-building event, a Puzzle Hunt. The puzzles are not hard and can be solved by everyone, encouraging teamwork and outside-the-box thinking. 


Mentalist vs. The Machine: The Relationship between AI and Wonderarrow-down

We live in a world where with one click of a button, generative AI can create an elaborate image, a persuasive term paper, or a complex melody. In his latest talk and performance hybrid, David Kwong poses the following: Despite our modern technological advancements, is there still room for wonder? Can we still experience awe and mind-blowing moments in the modern age of AI? ... His answer is a resounding yes! In fact, David believes we can experience more wonder because of our current technology. And he has a brand-new show, Mentalist vs. The Machine, to illustrate this.

David is leading his field with the integration of AI into magic. Recently in Davos, Switzerland, David spoke about the relationship of technology to wonder. His talk culminated with a ChatGPT illusion with CEO of Open AI, Sam Altman. In Mentalist vs. The Machine, David demonstrates wondrous digital miracles through tricks involving ChatGPT, Alexa, Wikipedia, and iPhones. The show culminates with David pitting his brain against The Machine’s, ultimately illustrating the power of human intellect and creativity.

Spellbound: The Principles of Illusionarrow-down

Despite astounding CEOs, TED Talk audiences, and thousands of other hyper-rational people and making them see, believe, and even remember what David wants them to, David doesn’t pretend to have superpowers in any way. As he outlines in his book Spellbound: Seven Principles of Illusion, he believes that all magic is science. It’s the science of fooling your brain. Illusion is an ancient art that centers on control, and understanding the fundamental principles of illusion will lead to more command and control in both life and work. Successful leaders—from Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, and Ted Turner to President Obama, Megyn Kelly, and Jeff Bezos—are masters of control and command who understand how to sway opinions and achieve goals.

Magic does not have to be about deceiving people, but rather getting ahead of the competition. David Kwong explains this principle in an interview with PBS, “If you’re in a job interview, why not have seven different copies of your resume?” You can then present the resume that will be best received by your interviewer based on how the conversation plays out. “That’s no different than a magician and playing cards,” David says.


  • Bridge the gap between perception and reality to help increase your own powers of persuasion and influence.
  • Learn the seven fundamental principles of illusion—rules anyone can learn to master.
  • Discover a different way to sell your idea, product, or skills, and make your best shot better than everyone else’s.
Creating Order Out of Chaos: Taking Control of Digital Disorderarrow-down

In today’s modern world, we are bombarded with incessant new information and data. We’re constantly scrolling and updating news feeds; we’re sifting through a never-ending barrage of posts and emails. In this presentation, David demonstrates, through feats of magic and practical insight, how to:

  • Organize vast amounts of data in your brain
  • See the world through the eyes of a magician, puzzle designer, and producer
  • Synthesize disparate bits of information into a holistic lifestyle

David illustrates how to take control of digital disorder in a way that only a New York Times crossword constructor and cerebral magician can do.

Creativity Within Constraints and Parametersarrow-down

In this talk, David Kwong explores the complex relationship between boundaries and productivity. Limitations inspire innovation. David Kwong, New York Times crossword constructor and master Illusionist, explains how constraints give us the freedom to create. Kwong demonstrates how to communicate engaging stories through:

  • The parameters of crossword puzzle construction
  • The sensitive angles of a stage illusion
  • Or the three-act structure of a screenplay

Inspire your audience with a new method of problem-solving through David’s groundbreaking puzzles and illusions.

The Enigmatistarrow-down

David’s massive theatrical hit that started it all and sold-out The Kennedy Center in DC, The Geffen Playhouse in LA, and The Highline Hotel in New York. In this demonstration of illusion, puzzles, and cryptography, David regales his audience with the history of America’s first codebreakers, while performing feats of mentalism and cerebral gymnastics. The fun begins right away: audience members come early to the show to solve the “Puzzle Room,” four creative puzzles that tie into the show. The Enigmatist is interactive, brainy, and fun for all ages.

Inside the Box: An Exhilarating Interactive Experience for the Virtual Stagearrow-down

Log on, put on your thinking caps, and join in the fun.

It’s no wonder that Inside the Box is a Critic’s Pick by the New York Times. World-class illusionist David Kwong transports you to the exhilarating world of puzzles and games. Attendees join an entirely interactive show of puzzles, hosted and facilitated by David as he drops fascinating facts on puzzle-making throughout history. This is the perfect team-building event for your remote-working team, large or small. “Inside the Box” is a sensational virtual experience, praised by the Los Angeles Daily News for its power to bring lively energy to Zoom meetings.

Solving Together: A Puzzle Huntarrow-down

“The perfect team event.” – Google. Businesses value David Kwong’s Puzzle Hunt for its power to create stronger teams and alleviate employee burnout. Work together in small groups to solve a collection of puzzles (not too hard!) with outside-the-box thinking. Challenge your brain in creative ways to figure out how all the puzzles link together to form the final answer.

Science: The Magician and the Crosswordarrow-down

The New York Times in Science: The Magician and the Crossword, praised David Kwong’s presentation, as he values “an air of sophistication” in his performances. 

This is one of David Kwong’s most requested performances because of its strength to bring teams together in wonder and amazement. 



Illusions and Identities: Asians and the Golden Age of Magicarrow-down

One hundred years ago, Asian magicians appeared to be the most popular entertainers on the Vaudeville circuit… but this was all an illusion! Most of these performers were white men pretending to be Oriental in order to seem more mystical. In this conversation, David Kwong shines a light on this little-known topic through historical stories, a thought-provoking conversation about race and Asian-American identity, and, of course, awe-inspiring magic tricks.

Smart Entertainment: MC & Entertainerarrow-down

As a world-class illusionist and creator of the critically acclaimed performance The Enigmatist, David Kwong is a creative, professional, and energizing MC for corporate events. Work with David to tailor his appearance to your company culture and occasion. At his appearances, David can perform any or all of the following:

  • Master of Ceremonies services for your Awards Conference or Benefit
  • 1:1 On-site Magic Performances for Executives or Small Teams
  • A Company-wide Performance with Audience Participation

A rush of pleasure reminiscent of a good closing number in a musical.

The New York Times

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