Magic Musings

Is This The “New Close – Up Magic?”

Boston Magician looks at AGT

“Things change”… and in time-honored tradition, old men complain everything was better, back in the day. Well, I was physically a lot better, back in the day, but alas, I can not stop time, and I have no intention of complaining about how things have changed.  

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Nicolas Ribs on AGT 2022

I just saw a French magician (Nicolas Ribs) on AGT, summer 2022… if you saw it, I expect you would agree it was magical and entertaining. And for me, completely fooling.

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Will Tsai

It reminded me of a past performance by Will Tsai, known as The Rose Act. Howie Mandel said of Will’s performance, “This is the best close-up magic I have ever seen in my life!”

Magicians Do Not Always Support Each Other

Magicians are often a jealous group, and many took to social media criticizing Will Tsai. Let me just say that what Will performed required skill and a little something extra. Almost all magicians use “a little something extra”… from time to time.


I believe their objections were that, as close-up magic goes, they could not present it in classic close-up style. Meaning that spectators could not sit at the table to witness the magic, without observing part of the method. 

Close – Up Magicians and Traditions

Close-Up Magic is unique because we present it mere inches from the eyes of the spectators, and that’s the way it was, until TV. Cameras could share the close-up experience with large audiences. What a pleasure it was to see some of the greatest Close-Up Magicians on TV. There was no other way I would have seen Jimmy Grippo, Frank Garcia… no need for a list.

The next step was projecting close-up magic on large screens, which enabled stage magicians the ability to share their skills as close-up magicians live during their stage shows.

Close-Up Magic on Stage?

I remember David Copperfield performing the $100 Bill Switch in a stage performance. Using a large screen allowed an entire theater to see the illusion close-up. Another example is when David went into the audience and performed the Floating Rose. As in the first example, camera and screen enabled all in attendance to witness a memorable performance.

What has changed? Nicolas and Will performed their Close-Up Magic on a stage for a large audience, but they could not have done it successfully with spectators seated at their table.

This is not a problem for the layperson… think of Howie’s reaction to Will Tsai. The restrictions of viewing meant nothing to Howie.

A Problem With Magicians

The problem exists with “magicians”. We are a jealous group, knocking the achievements of others. Most often the ones who are most popular and receive media attention. Think back to David Blaine. His first television special launched him to the top of the industry. And just as quickly, he received the barbs from the so-called “cognoscente.”

But David didn’t rest. He moved forward to bigger challenges and earned a place in magic history alongside the greatest.

So, keep an eye out for the new “Close-Up” magicians, and remember it’s not what they do on their first performance… it’s the follow up. (Well done, David Blaine.)

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