Dr Vyom Sharma is a practicing doctor, part-time expert magician and comedian. He is the three-time (20012, 2011, 2009) winner at the Australian Society of Magicians Championship. Dr Sharma has performed in the Adelaide Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. He blends storytelling and humour with incredible illusions that leave the audience wide-eyed in wonder. He also appeared on Channel 9’s ‘The Today Show’ in 2014.
What exactly is ‘Magic’? Some people say magic is an illusion as it is the art of distraction? How would you define it?
Magicians have not reached an agreement on the definition, partly because it can have many meanings. One definition of magic (to me) is the enjoyable feeling of wonder and astonishment when you see something that seems impossible. I don’t think it has to come about by means of an illusion. It’s just that creating an illusion can effectively make people experience magic. It is really hard to define magic. I can’t even pretend that the definition I’ve provided is adequate. But once you’ve experienced magic, it is unmistakable.
You are a doctor by profession, how and when did you get interested in magic?
In first year of University, a fellow student showed me some magic tricks. I instantly realised that these weren’t cheap, easy tricks that relied on a simple, disappointing method and began my search for the secret. I managed to find a secret library in Melbourne, which has one of the world’s largest collections of magic books. I’d read there for hours every day when I should have been attending University lectures.
Who inspired you to be a magician, someone in your family?
No one in my family inspired me to be a magician particularly. But everyone in my family inspired me to follow my desires. Everyone in my family is vibrant and engaged in the world around them in a way that is beyond career and money. We are definitely a family of dreamers.
Where did you learn these magic tricks, Australia or overseas?
My reflexive response is to say Australia. But magic is an international art with inspiration, guidance and literature coming from every part of the globe. In the last 10 years, the Internet has supercharged magic, and artists from all over the world have become connected. I might be seated in Australia, but the next trick I perform could be one that was composed originally in German.
Do we require special attributes to be a magician or anybody can learn it and become magician?
Realistically, most people can learn 5 impressive magic tricks and perform them adequately within 1 year but that doesn’t make you a magician. You really only need to learn 1 trick to become a magician, as long as you can reliably use it to make your audience experience true wonder. To become a good magician it takes a strange mix of humility, confidence, dedication and a willingness to accept failure and persist. To become a truly great magician you need many things, perhaps foremost a love of magic.
How often do you practice, and who serves as a test audience for your new routines?
I don’t practice enough. Sometimes it’s because I’m committed to other things and sometimes it’s because the only practice that is useful is where I practice performing it in front of a live audience.
But to give you an idea, I’ve practiced with playing cards for most days of my life for the last 10 years. Test audience? Close friends. Family has seen far too much so their opinions can be a little biased.
As a magician, what kind of audiences have you found to be the most challenging to entertain?
People who don’t want to see magic. It sounds obvious, but when you do a public show, people come specifically to watch your show. But if you’ve been hired to perform for a corporate function or party, people aren’t expecting it, and may not like it.
Magic tends to begin as a passion before becoming a profession. Do you plan to leave medicine and make it a profession?
Somewhat. I want to do both, because they are equally interesting. Sometimes when I do one of them for too long, it feels dull, mainly because I lose a sense of perspective about what it means to do medicine, or magic. Both things inspire a sense of wonder in me.
What is the best piece of advice you would like to give to the budding magicians?
Practice is important, but performing is the most important form of practice. Perform more, make mistakes, and keep trying