David Kwong

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Enigmatist: Magician and New York Times Crossword Writer

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Magicians / Illusionists
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Creativity
Diversity⸒ Equity & Inclusion (DEI)
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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, is enjoyed a sold-out run in New York City and is currently at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.
  • 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.

Videos

Biography

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. 

Topics

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.

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

Inside the Box takes us into the exhilarating world of games with New York Times crossword constructor David Kwong. Guests will have a front-row seat to an entirely interactive show of puzzles, while David regales them with stories of the most extraordinary puzzle-makers throughout history. This incredibly smart and wildly entertaining event is filled with wordplay, multi-layered games, and surprises that will leave your mind blown. Log on, put on your thinking caps, and join in the fun.

Puzzle Challenge: A Think-Outside-The-Box Team-Building Eventarrow-down

As one of the most prolific puzzle designers working today, David has designed the perfect team-building event. Imagine dividing your company into teams, mixing departments so that people get to work with new colleagues. David then gives each team a packet of puzzles that each team must solve within an hour. Note, these puzzle are not hard and can be solved by everyone, if you work together and think-outside-the-box! And the answers to all the puzzles will combine to reveal the final answer!

Spellbound Gaining Influence, Captivating Audiences, and Unlocking Successarrow-down

David Kwong has astounded CEOs, TED talk audiences, and thousands of other hyper-rational people, making them see, believe, and even remember what he wants them to. But his feats aren’t supernatural; they are fundamentally human. Illusion is an ancient art that centers on control: commanding a room, building anticipation, and appearing to work wonders. Illusion works because the human brain is wired to fill the gap between seeing and believing. 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. Now, Kwong reveals how to bridge the gap between perception and reality to help you increase your own powers of persuasion and influence. In his years of research and practice, he’s discovered seven fundamental principles of illusion—rules anyone can learn to gain mastery. And with this entertaining and fascinating keynote, you’ll 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 Chaosarrow-down

We live in a lightning-fast world of constant information and data. With incessant streams of Tweets, updates and newsfeeds, we can easily be overwhelmed by data. How can we make sense out of all the scattered bits of information that we’re barraged with every single day? In this talk, David Kwong, creator of the new immersive live show, The Enigmatist, demonstrates through a series of “mental gymnastics” how he collects and organizes vast amounts of data in his brain. As a magician, puzzle designer, and producer, Kwong illustrates how he synthesizes these seemingly disparate fields via a tour de force of sleight of hand and puzzles. 

Creativity Within Constraints and Parametersarrow-down

In this talk, David Kwong explores the complex relationship between boundaries and productivity. Though it may seem counterintuitive, most people are at their most creative when they innovate within a given set of boundaries. How can you tell a clever story while obeying the construction rules of a crossword puzzle, the three-act structure of a screenplay, or the sensitive angles of a stage illusion? Kwong, a master of working within the lines, explains how constraints give us the freedom to create. We are at our most innovative when we design a new form for something familiar, and subsequently express it in a novel and compelling way. Kwong demonstrates some of his own groundbreaking puzzles and illusions by way of inspiring a new method of problem solving.

Smart Entertainment: MC & Entertainerarrow-down

In this inspiring, cerebral, and fun-filled presentation—perfect for corporate off-sites—David Kwong dazzles audiences with boundary-defying (and mind-bending) puzzles and sleight of hand. But make no mistake: no ladies will be sawn in half. Kwong is one of the most innovative, virtuosic, and smart illusionists alive. As a New York Times crossword puzzle constructor and go-to expert on illusion for major Hollywood blockbusters (Now You See Me, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Imitation Game), Kwong offers his signature style of thought-provoking entertainment to mesmerize even the most jaded spectators. In other words, at the forefront of the ‘alternative magic scene,’ Kwong’s making magic really, really cool. This is an ideal performance for organizations looking for something lighter than an average keynote, yet still charged with intelligence, humor, and the fundamental elements of storytelling. It’s magic updated for a modern, sophisticated audience, that at once satisfies high expectations and our timeless hunger for wonder.

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

The New York Times
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