Close Up Magician

What is a close up magician?

A close up magician can perform a show for a small group, strolling magic continuously as people mingle, or can even entertain just one person.  Close up magic is most associated with cards, coins, and a high level of sleight-of-hand skills.

There are basically three types of magic, which are known as close up, parlor, and stage.  One could also say small, medium, and large.

Most magicians perform all three types of shows.  Ricky Jay was a famous close-up magician who also performed on stage. Even David Copperfield, who is best known for performing on large stages with huge illusions, sometimes includes close up magic in his show.  He does this with the help of cameras and projectors.

Ricky Jay

Ricky Jay by David Shankbone

David Copperfield

David Copperfield by John Mathew Smith &

Close up magician Zach Waldman

Close Up Magician Zach Waldman

What makes my close up magic show unique?

  • I'm a stand-up comedian, so even my close up magic show is hilarious.
  • Many close up magicians only perform card tricks.  I perform a variety of magic, including tricks with coins, fire, mind-reading, and even dental floss!
  • Often times, when magicians get hired to perform, they do what's called walkaround, or strolling close up magic.  Although I'll do this if the client insists upon it, it's not a great approach.  First of all, the magician has to interrupt people to perform.  Not only that, the people he walks up to might not want to be entertained at that exact moment, but the magic gets forced on them.  Instead, I perform stationary close up magic, which means I stay in one spot at a table and people come over to be entertained when they're ready.  It's a much better experience for everybody.
Close up magician

Zach Waldman performs in the Close-Up Gallery of The Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA

Where Do Close Up Magicians Perform?


Many professional magicians have steady gigs at restaurants.  At one point in my career, I was working at six of them a week.  If you've never seen a magician when dining out, this may be surprising to you.  Basically, I would approach tables after people ordered and while they were waiting for their food.  I performed routines for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.

Also, some of the restaurants I worked at had long waiting lists.  As a result, people would sometimes leave instead of adding their names.  However, a lot of them stayed around when they realized I would be entertaining them while they waited.  A 20 minute magic show makes the wait for a table fly by.  The restaurant ended up retaining many more customers and making a lot more money by having me there.

I've worked a variety of restaurants, from family pizza spots in the valley to fine dining establishments in Malibu and Beverly Hills.  I performed regularly at Factors Famous Deli, the Pier View, Busby's East and West, The Spare Tire, Ye Olde King's Head, Crustacean, and many others.


I moved to Santa Monica, CA in 2000.  At this point, I hadn't done magic in a few years, instead focusing on stand-up comedy.  I returned to magic in 2001 and my first gig was at a famous dive bar in Santa Monica called 14 Below.  

Instead of approaching people dining in a restaurant, I was behind the bar performing for people between bands who had to tear down and set up. It was one of my favorite gigs.  Since it was a bar, I could treat it more like a comedy club, saying and doing pretty much whatever I wanted.  Magic bar, as it's known in the magic community, is its own genre of performing.  It's also one my favorites.  I performed as the bar magician at 14 Below for many years, until it finally shut down.


Lounges covers everything from speakeasys and cigar bars to hookah and cannabis lounges.  For about a year, I had a steady gig as the magician for a cannabis company called THC Design.  They're still going strong, but Covid put an end to the events they used to have.

Recently, I performed at one of the two cannabis consumption lounges in Los Angeles.  It's called The Artist Tree and it's in West Hollywood.  You can go into their store, buy cannabis, and then head upstairs to the lounge to consume it.  They don't have food and alcohol isn't allowed. However, you can order food from nearby businesses and have it delivered.  As a magician, performing in cannabis lounges is a dream come true. People smoking pot are much more fun to entertain than drunk hecklers.

On a side note, I've been doing a magic themed cannabis act for over 20 years.  I used to catch a lot of flack about it.  Now that weed is legal in most places and nobody cares anymore, it's frustrating to see how many other magicians have taken my idea.  There's even a weed themed show in Vegas now.  I know getting ripped off is supposed to be flattering, but still...

Close Up Magician Zach Waldman performing in a lounge

Close Up Magician Zach Waldman Performing at The Artist Tree in West Hollywood, CA

Private Parties:

Birthday Parties:

I don't perform for kids, but usually when people think about magicians, the first thing they think of is a guy in a bad outfit doing lame tricks for little kids.  By the way, there are magicians who specialize in performing for children, and they're masterful.  I used to do kids' shows and took a lot of pride in delivering a truly entertaining show for the little ones.

That said, magicians regularly get hired for adult birthday parties.  If it's a small group, I'll perform a close-up magic show for the entire group at one time.  If there are more people, I perform stationary close-up magic.  This is pretty much true for all events though.


I have performed at a ton of weddings.  Usually, I perform close-up magic during the cocktail hour.  Sometimes, they request 15 minutes of stand-up comedy and magic during the reception, but that's rare in my experience.

Bar and Bat Mitzvahs:

Very similar to weddings, I am usually booked as a close-up magician for the cocktail hour.  Once the reception starts, the DJ is usually insanely loud and the kids want to dance, hence no need to have the magician stick around.  🙂

Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties:

If you're performing at a comedy club and a bachelorette party comes in, every comic will immediately let out a sigh, because they know what kind of night is ahead.  However, when I get booked for these parties privately, they're actually really fun.  There's a difference between a bunch of drunks wandering into a club with the attention span of gnats, versus them spending money to bring an entertainer into their home.

Generally, these shows revolve around making fun of the person getting married, which I find exceptionally easy to do.  


When someone passes away, not everybody wants a grim memorial.  I've been hired many times as a close up magician after the service, while people are mingling, drinking, and sharing stores of their loved one.

Corporate Events:


I perform at every type of corporate event you can think of.  However, meetings are my specialty.

Typically, I perform close-up magic during the cocktail hour, and a comedy-magic stage show after dinner.

close up magician Zach Waldman performs at meetings

Trade Shows:

Trade shows are unique because the presentations are always customized.  It's my job to gather a crowd around your trade show booth and entertain them while also highlighting the features and benefits of your product or service.  After my presentation, I close by getting as many of those people as possible into your booth to learn more about your business.

Holiday Parties:

I'm booked almost every day in December for company holiday parties.  If you're thinking of having me at your party this year, contact me as soon as possible.  I'd hate for you to be disappointed if I'm already booked for the date you'd like me.

Sometimes, I'm only a close up magician when performing at holiday parties.  Other times, I also perform a stand-up comedy and magic stage show.