Jamy Ian Swiss

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Jamy Ian Swiss
Jamy Ian Swiss.png

Jamy Ian Swiss (born November 30, 1952, in Brooklyn, New York) is an American magician, author, speaker, historian of magic, essayist, book reviewer,[1] and scientific skeptic.[2] He is known for sleight-of-hand with playing cards.[3]


Swiss is a sleight-of-hand performer who specializes in close-up card magic, stage magic, and mentalism.[4] He first got into magic at age 7.[5]

He has spoken and performed across the United States, including for companies such as Adobe,[6] and Evernote and for the Smithsonian Institution, as well as at The Magic Castle.[7] He has spoken at The New Yorker Festival.[8] He is a frequent guest speaker at the EG creativity and innovation conference.[9]

His show of intimate sleight-of-hand magic, Magic: Close-up in Concert, ran for six months at the Rainbow Room in New York City.[10][11] It was remounted in San Diego in 2017.[12][13]

Swiss is a co-founder [14] and currently a co-producer and performer for Monday Night Magic,[15][16] New York City's longest running Off-Broadway show.[17][18]

In 2000, Swiss presented a one-man show The Honest Liar as part of the New York International Fringe Festival.[19] It was produced by Premiere Productions.[20]


Jamy Ian Swiss is the author of the essay collections Shattering Illusions,[21][5] Devious Standards[22] and Preserving Mystery, all three of which have been reissued in a combined trilogy boxed set.[23]

He is the author of the book "Conjurer's Conundrum" which deals with the intersection of magic and skepticism.[24]

He is also a co-author of the companion volume to the PBS documentary The Art of Magic,[25] and the "Explaining Magic" chapter of Visual Explanations[26] by Edward Tufte.[27]

Additionally, he has contributed to, or consulted on, the following books, among others:

  1. Pogue, David; Magic for Dummies[28]
  2. Penn & Teller's How to Play with Your Food[29]
  3. Gaiman, Neil; American Gods[30]
  4. Macknick, Stephen & Martinez-Conde, Susana; Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions[31]
  5. Palmer, Amanda. The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help. New York: Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-1455581085.
  6. Lovick, John; Switch: Unfolding the $100 Bill Change[32]
  7. McCabe, Pete; Scripting Magic [33]
  8. Riser, Harry; Secrets of an Escomateur [34]

Swiss co-wrote (and wrote the foreword to) the two-volume book set entitled The Magic of Johnny Thompson,[35] which details the secrets of seventy-eight of famed magician Johnny Thompson's most celebrated magic routines.

He has written for Skeptic magazine, wrote for Genii, the Conjurors’ Magazine from April 1993 to January 2013, and contributed a regular column of essays for the quarterly magic journal Antimony.

He wrote a regular column of magic book reviews entitled The Lyon's Den as well as a 71-part series called Take Two, which pays tribute to important figures and additional subjects in the history of magic, including commentary on curated video selections.[36]

Teaching magic and consulting[edit]

He has lectured to magicians in 13 countries.[37] He also created and produces Card Clinic, an "intensive seminar on sleight-of-hand magic with playing cards."[38]

He is regarded as a mentor, instructor, and consultant to magicians[39][40] and has been called the "must-read, must-fear Michiko Kakutani of magic publishing".[41]

Scientific skepticism[edit]

A longtime scientific skeptic, Jamy Ian Swiss has spoken widely to skeptic groups[42] and conferences[43] around the United States.[44][2][45][46][47]

He has been featured in on-stage events about skepticism and magic with Penn and Teller, Ray Hyman, and others.[48]

Swiss is a co-founder of the New York City Skeptics[49] and the National Capital Area Skeptics[50][51] and as a skeptic of the paranormal,[52] he has been a longtime critic of "unethical mentalists"[53] and "psychic con artists" [54] who use "supernatural deceit" for personal gain.

He was a Senior Fellow of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) where he also served as a member of the Million Dollar Challenge committee (by which the foundation offered a million dollar prize for anyone able to duplicate a paranormal feat under mutually agreed upon test conditions).

He is an expert on psychic charlatans,[55] and on the intersection of science, magic, and skepticism.[56]

Media appearances[edit]


Swiss has been featured in The New Yorker,[4][57][58] and in Vanity Fair,[59] Los Angeles Times ,[5] The Washington Post, and New York Press.

TV and radio[edit]

He was a comedy writer and chief magic consultant for Penn & Teller on their television program, Sin City Spectacular, and he was associate producer for 24 episodes.[60] He also served as head writer and associate director for The Virtual Magician starring Marco Tempest, which aired in 45 countries.

Swiss was featured on NPR discussing the art of teaching and preserving magic.[40]

He has created, produced and performed in the Discovery Channel documentary, Cracking the Con Games. He was featured in the TV show Brain Games (National Geographic) "tricking a group of gamblers."[61][62]

He has also appeared in television programs including 48 Hours, the PBS series NOVA, the PBS documentary The Art of Magic[63]The Today Show,[64] and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.[65]

Movies and documentaries[edit]

Swiss was the magic designer for the feature film The Fantasticks among others.[66]

He appeared as a commentator[67] in the documentary Merchants of Doubt,[68] drawing a parallel between his 'honest' lying and the deceitful lying in politics and business.[69][70] He also appeared as a commentator in the feature-length documentary "An Honest Liar" about fellow magician and skeptic James Randi.[71]


  1. ^ "Finding Your Voice with Jamy Ian Swiss". Discourse in Magic. 2019-07-25. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  2. ^ a b Jamy Ian Swiss – I, Skeptic, archived from the original on 2021-12-14, retrieved 2019-08-21
  3. ^ "72 Hours Inside the Eye-Popping World of Cardistry". by Kevin Pang, Vanity Fair, April 21, 2015
  4. ^ a b The Real Work, The New Yorker, March 17, 2008
  5. ^ a b c "Entertaining Deception". Los Angeles Times. 2003-06-22. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  6. ^ "How Magic Works – Jamy Ian Swiss". Adobe Research. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  7. ^ "Appearing This at the Magic Castle: Jamy Ian Swiss". Genii Online. 19 March 2018. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  8. ^ "Presto Change-O". The New Yorker Videos. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  9. ^ "Jamy Ian Swiss". EG Conference. 2011-03-02. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  10. ^ "JIS_Bio". mondaynightmagic.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  11. ^ Close-up in Concert in the Rainbow Room. New York: New York Media, LLC. 1992-04-06.
  12. ^ "Magic: Close-up in Concert featuring Jamy Ian Swiss". www.brownpapertickets.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  13. ^ "Magic: Close-Up in Concert Featuring Jamy Ian Swiss". Stone Brewing. 2017-05-26. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  14. ^ "10 Magic Shows to See Now in NYC". www.cityguideny.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  15. ^ "Monday Night Magic – Young Wizards Club". youngwizardsclub.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  16. ^ "MNM Background". www.mondaynightmagic.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  17. ^ Hallissey, Kara (2 May 2014). "Professional Magicians to Thrill OC". OC Magic Show. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Monday Night Magic". Destinations of New York State. 25 April 2016. Archived from the original on 1 September 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  19. ^ "Jamy Ian Swiss: The Honest Liar | Off-Off-Broadway | reviews, cast and info". TheaterMania. August 16, 2000. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  20. ^ BWW News Desk. "New Comedy Stormy Weather to Debut at Teatro Latea Theatre". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  21. ^ Swiss, Jamy Ian (2002). Shattering illusions: Essays on the Ethics, History, and Presentation of Magic. Seattle, Wash.: Hermetic Press. ISBN 094529641X. OCLC 56537227.
  22. ^ Swiss, Jamy Ian (2011). Devious Standards. Seattle, Wash.: Hermetic Press. ISBN 978-0945296690. OCLC 756039199.
  23. ^ "The Works – Jamy Ian Swiss Trilogy". www.vanishingincmagic.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  24. ^ Conjurer's Conundrum Vanishing Inc. (2020)
  25. ^ The Art of Magic | PBS Documentary, retrieved 2019-08-21
  26. ^ Tufte, Edward R. (1997). Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. Cheshire, Conn.: Graphics Press. ISBN 0961392126. OCLC 36234417.
  27. ^ "Edward Tufte Forum: Magician in Visual Explanations". www.edwardtufte.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  28. ^ Pogue, David (1998). Magic for Dummies. Foster City, CA: IDG Books Worldwide. ISBN 0764551019. OCLC 39558015.
  29. ^ Jillette, Penn; Teller (1992). Penn & Teller's How to Play with Your Food (1st ed.). New York: Villard Books. ISBN 0679743111. OCLC 26013244.
  30. ^ Gaiman, Neil (2019). American Gods. Translated by Faerna, Mónica. Illustrated by McKean, Dave (Primera edición en este formato ed.). Barcelona. ISBN 978-8417305635. OCLC 1085652271.
  31. ^ Macknik, Stephen L.; Martinez-Conde, Susana; Blakeslee, Sandra (2011). Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about our Everyday Deceptions (1st Picador ed.). New York: Picador. ISBN 978-0312611675. OCLC 709674003.
  32. ^ Switch – Unfolding The $100 Bill Change by John Lovick Penguin Magic
  33. ^ Scripting Magic Volume 1 by Pete McCabe Amazon.com
  34. ^ Secrets of an Escamoteur Amazon.com, January 1, 2006
  35. ^ Swiss, Jamy Ian; Thompson, Johnny (2018). Ben, David; Johnson, Karl (eds.). The Magic of Johnny Thompson (1st ed.). Toronto, Ontario. ISBN 978-0987868664. OCLC 1035246460.
  36. ^ Pang, Kevin (15 August 2017). "Why I'm Still Obsessed with Magic Tricks". AUX. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  37. ^ "Books Every Magician Should Read – Jamy Ian Swiss Tells Us!". Conjuror Community. 2016-12-26. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  38. ^ "MagicTimes News Archives – Week of September 9–15, 2002". www.magictimes.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  39. ^ "˜Make Believe' reveals real magic". dailybruin.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  40. ^ a b "Magic's Future: Now You See It, Now You Don't?". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  41. ^ "The Magic Hustle" By Logan Hill, New York Press, Vol 16, #12, 2004
  42. ^ "Heavy Mental + Science, Skepticism, and Magic". National Capital Area Skeptics. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  43. ^ Jamy Ian Swiss – Credit The Con Man – TAM 2013, archived from the original on 2021-12-14, retrieved 2019-08-21
  44. ^ Moynihan, Michael (2013-08-16). "James Randi, The Amazing Meeting, and the Bullshit Police". Newsweek. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  45. ^ Jamy Ian Swiss – "Overlapping Magisteria" – TAM 2012, retrieved 2019-08-21
  46. ^ "SDARI Lecture: Jamy Ian Swiss "Skepticism 101"". Meetup. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  47. ^ Plait, Phil (2007-01-23). "TAM 5 Report #3: The Magic of Jamy Ian Swiss". SYFY Wire. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  48. ^ "Magic & Skepticism at TAM7". Vimeo. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  49. ^ "National Capital Area Skeptics". Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  50. ^ "New York City Skeptics". New York City Skeptics.
  51. ^ "Heavy Mental + Science, Skepticism, and Magic". Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  52. ^ Winston, Kimberly (November 4, 2011). "Magicians Say Their Craft Makes Them See Faith as Just Hocus-pocus". USA Today. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  53. ^ "Diss-Illusioned! Magic and the Supernatural". PopMatters. 2015-04-23. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  54. ^ Harris, Paul (March 23, 2014). "Jamy Ian Swiss on Psychic Con Artists". Harris Online. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  55. ^ Grothe, D.J. (2006-03-24). "Jamy Ian Swiss – Psychics, Science, and Magic | Point of Inquiry". Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  56. ^ Grothe, D.J. (2008-05-23). "Jamy Ian Swiss – Skepticism and the Art and Philosophy of Magic | Point of Inquiry". Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  57. ^ "Take a Card (Audio)". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
  58. ^ Kanin, Zachary (2008-10-05). "Magic is Like a Disease". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  59. ^ Pang, Kevin (21 April 2015). "72 Hours Inside the Eye-Popping World of Cardistry". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  60. ^ Sin City Spectacular (TV Series 1998–1999), IMDb, retrieved 2019-08-21
  61. ^ TV Scoop (February 28, 2016). "Scoop: Brain Games: Brains Behaving Badly on Nat Geo Channel". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  62. ^ Society, National Geographic (2016-01-21). "Gambling and the Brain". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  63. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: The Art of Magic". People.com. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  64. ^ Jamy Ian Swiss and Todd Robbins on The Today Show, archived from the original on 2021-12-14, retrieved 2019-08-21
  65. ^ Jamy Ian Swiss on The Late Late Show from the original on Mar 19, 2016
  66. ^ The Fantasticks (2000) – IMDb, retrieved 2019-08-21
  67. ^ Accomando, Beth (20 March 2015). "'Merchants of Doubt' Suggests We're All Being Conned". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  68. ^ "Review: 'Merchants of Doubt' Shows How Public Opinion is Manipulated". Los Angeles Times. 2014-11-14. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  69. ^ Sharma, Gautami (2015-03-12). "The Truth Revealed in 'Merchants of Doubt'". The Daily Californian. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  70. ^ Terry, Josh (2015-05-01). "'Merchants of Doubt' attacks climate change skeptics". Deseret News. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  71. ^ An Honest Liar at IMDb

External links[edit]

  1. Home Page
  2. Jamy Ian Swiss on Skepticism
  3. Searchable archive of Jamy Ian Swiss Book Reviews
  4. Card Clinic: three days that will change your magic forever
  5. Jamy Ian Swiss at IMDb
  6. Biography of Jamy Ian Swiss at Adobe.com
  7. Video of Jamy Ian Swiss from TAM 2012 on "Overlapping Magisteria" in Skepticism