Having met the magician David Fung at a number of different events in and around Norfolk, Lucy was keen to get to know him – and his magic – a little better.
Lucy: First up, what is it that you do?
David Fung: I’m a magician.
One of the main things I do is I perform at events, weddings, parties and corporate dinners. People sometimes want something unique for a special event. I can be the one to provide that and bring people together.
L: Is there any sort of magic that you specialise in? Is it up-close magic? Is it stage magic?
DF: I do some close-up magic because I think magic is best when it’s right in front of your eyes.
I also do platform magic. More people can see it, so it’s really good for bringing the whole room together, maybe before the speeches [at a wedding].
L: What’s the biggest event that you’ve done?
DF: It’s hard to say. The last big show I did was at The Maddermarket Theatre. It was their Christmas show, so thousands of people came through there. I was a wizard in the play, performing magic on stage for the children – and for the adults – all the way through. A lot of people saw it, so it was really good way to reach out and be seen.
L: So you do some acting, as well as magic?
DF: Yeah, I recently got into acting. I think a lot of people see magic as just card tricks or just for entertainment. People associate magic with the clown or just a silly entertainer, but for me it’s an art form. In that sense, it’s a kind of theatre.
It’s about making people feel something that means something to them; something they wouldn’t have felt before. It’s still about entertainment, making people laugh and funny tricks, but you also create meaningful magical, magical experiences.
It’s about making people feel something that means something
L: What drew you to magic?
DF: Well, I think, at the beginning, it was Paul Daniels.
DF: For a lot of people, it’s someone you see somebody on TV. So, my time was Paul Daniels, then it was David Blaine and then it was Derren Brown. Nowadays the young kids are getting some magic through Dynamo, but for me it was seeing Paul Daniels on television.
I had a little Paul Daniels boxed magic set. Most kids play with those things for a while and put it down, you know? It’s just another toy. I guess I didn’t put it down and magic’s stayed with me throughout my life.
L: Why is that? Is it because of a sense of wonder? Or being able to amaze people? What is it that keeps you doing it?
DF: You know, there are so many aspects. Obviously, a part of it is the logical puzzle of the how a trick is done. Why are we fooled by magic? Why does it affect us in this way?
And another part is, like you say, being able to perform for people. I like performing, and I like sharing something of me with the audience.
Then another part is that I think magic transcends reality. It’s something that you don’t see everyday, for a start. But actually, if you look closely, we can see magic all around us. It’s just the things that we don’t understand as adults. For children, there is a lot of magic around them; there are so many things they don’t understand. Sometimes, as adults, magic can bring back that sense of wonder.
Magic can bring back that sense of wonder that we maybe miss out on
L: Do you have a go-to trick or illusion? Is there something that you’re renowned for?
DF: I wouldn’t say I’m renowned. I’m not quite at that stage yet! And you can call it a trick, by the way!
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When I perform, I don’t say it’s a trick because it can take away from the magical world but we all know it’s a trick.
L: What was the first trick that you did?
DF: It’s interesting. I think the first one I remember was from the Paul Daniels Magic Set. It was basically a little cardboard packet. You tie a bit of rope around the packet, in a knot, and then you put the knot inside the packet. When snap your fingers, or whatever, the knot disappears. What is interesting is that even now, rope magic has stayed with me. A big part of my act is using odd bits of rope. It’s a little bit more impressive than a disappearing knot though.
L: So you said Paul Daniels is someone you did admire. Who do you admire now? Who would you recommend people look out for?
DF: There are so many people. I mean, I start with the ones like Derren Brown and Dynamo. I think what they’ve done to bring magic to the masses, and to get so far with magic – to gain superstar status – is really admirable.
There are so many magicians that people haven’t heard of, and they bring so much to the table. Maybe one day you’ll see me on television. Flying the flag!
L: Is there anyone that we should look out for on the circuit? Who would you recommend? Just putting you on the spot!
DF: How about me?!
L: Apart from you, obviously!
DF: There is a really good young magician called Ben Hart. I think he’s performing in Australia right now. He approaches magic as an art form – as a performing art. It’s theatrical and its magical. It’s charming and it’s all of things I think magic should be.
I’d also like to give a mention to Fay Presto. She started working in magic quite late. She started magic at 35. She’s probably one of the best close-up magicians I know, because of the energy she brings to to the audience. If you get a chance, give her a look up.
She’s been so kind and given me so much support. Magic is great because it brings people together across all generations. It’s a strong community. Some people are just so kind, and they’ll give everything just to help.
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L: That brings me neatly on to my next question. I think I read that you are a member The Magic Circle?
L: How did that come about?
DF: I’ve been a member since I was 18. That’s the earliest you can join. And again, it’s about that community feel.
The magic community is actually quite small when you think about it. There are hundreds of superstars singers, but there’s probably only a handful of magicians that people can name. The Magic Circle is a part of that community. I get to rub shoulders with all the people whose books I’ve read and who have influenced me on my journey to magic. A lot of them I now call friends.
To join The Magic Circle you have to audition and interview in front of other famous magicians, and then you have to get accepted. Then you become a member, and there are all these different levels of permission that you get promoted to if you excel.
It is really worth visiting [The Magic Circle] if you’re in London. Their headquarters is an amazing building. They do some public shows and they’re really good. They’re not even that expensive compared to other theatre venues in London. For the experience it is amazing because it’s not your typical theatre, it’s a magical place in itself.
L: How was the experience of the auditioning process to become a member of the Magic Circle?
DF: As you can imagine it’s a lot of pressure. For me, I perform with high pressure, generally. However, I got in, so it must have been alright!
I can’t quite remember what I did at that time, but some of it has probably stayed with me. But I think the experience of auditioning [was quite daunting]; you’re in this magical building and you’re being watched by your peers. There’s only about 1500 members around the world. It’s quite exclusive.
L: Is it secretive?
DF: The secrets of magic have to be kept. Keeping the organisation secretive makes it mysterious. I think is that is good for magic as well.
L: So, coming onto some more local matters, have you always lived in Norwich or Norfolk?
DF: No, I moved here less than a year ago. I call it home now though.
L: Where did you move from?
DF: Before, I was living in London for six or seven years. I feel like I’ve met quite a few people who have moved from London for whatever reason. Maybe they’ve come to university here, but it’s become their home. It’s like that for me – you come here and you never leave.
I think it’s just it’s just a wonderful place to live. Comparing it to London, it’s a lot less stressful, a lot more friendly and there’s so much going on creatively, in the business world and in the theatre.
I think it’s just it’s just a wonderful place to live
We can do things like this; two people from completely different spectrums meet up and talk about magic and and life for half-an-hour.
L: So what was it that drew you to Norwich? What was the drive?
DF: It was a combination of things. I was looking for a new start. London is very stressful, you know? And you’ve got to take opportunities when they come. We might as well be enjoying life while we’re living.
[Norwich] has a very strong community. The arts community especially. I’ve been getting involved with the theatre, and the local food. I love local food and produce – it plays an important part of community. Norwich, and Norfolk in general, has a lot to offer in that respect.
L: And are there any places in Norfolk that you consider to be particularly magical?
DF: There are a lot of old buildings and apparently a lot of them are haunted. I don’t know how true that is, but there might be a book about it.
Have you ever seen ghosts in Norfolk?
L: No, I never have but there are rumours of a fair few!
DF: I’ve heard about one in the Maddermarket Theatre. There are stories about that, but, I’ve never seen anything.
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L: There’s an element of mysticism about some of these older building and all the events that they’ve seen through time.
DF: It comes back the magic happening in our own hearts. It’s how you see things and how you how you interpret magical happenings and magical places.
I recently heard about an old abandoned house under a café near the Castle. I don’t know if there are any myths or any stories about that, but that’s magical in itself. It transcends time and it transcends culture. That, to me, is what magic represents.