David Kwong: Magic Word Nerd

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David Kwong
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David Kwong is one of a new breed of magicians associated with “alt-magic,” a performance scene emerging in Los Angeles, New York, Madrid, and Tokyo. “We’re not wearing the sparkly suits anymore,” Kwong tells Kurt Andersen. “The scene is rooting everything in sleight of hand and a simple return to the theater.”

Kwong’s niche is word games and puzzles — a self-proclaimed “word nerd,” he also constructs crosswords professionally — and he wows audiences with routines using Scrabble tiles, the periodic table, and dinosaur trivia. But Kwong is no stranger to the mainstream, working with David Copperfield (Kurt compares it to Sufjan Stevens performing with Nickelback), and serving as a magic advisor to films like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and the upcoming Now You See Me. He taught Jesse Eisenberg the snap change card trick, and Woody Harrelson hypnosis. Harrelson reports that he successfully hypnotized Mark Ruffalo, but Kurt is skeptical. “That’s what Woody says,” replies Kwong. “They’re both actors, so who knows.”

Bonus Track: Kurt tests David Kwong's Scrabble skills — from A to Z

Video: David Kwong's Nerdy Magic