An eccentric comic magician whose bizarre humor and unscripted antics have earned him widespread recognition as one of the most original and successful performers today, the Amazing Johnathan has performed for two Presidents, appeared on hundreds of TV shows including David Lettermen, HBO, and has had several of his own half hour and hour Comedy Central Specials. He also helped create “Ruckus,” a game show created by both himself and Merv Griffin.
After thirteen years of performing in Las Vegas, the Amazing Johnathan has recently decided to part ways with Sin City in search of more fulfilling projects.
“Yeah, I retired from Vegas. I was supposed to do another year at Bally's and was three months into my contract, and they just weren't doing what they said they were going to do, and making life miserable for me,” Johnathan recently told the Boston Comedy Scene Examiner. “So I just didn't show up for work the next day...and then they noticed. Then I got letters from their lawyers saying I had to go back to work and I've been ignoring them all. All the lawyers and stuff, I've just been ignoring it and it seems to be going away. They were supposed to be advertising me with their other properties that they owned, which is like five other casinos, and they weren't doing that. They were just barely doing it at my own casino. If they're not thrilled to have me, then I'm not thrilled to be there.”
While he certainly enjoyed record-breaking success during his Vegas run, the Amazing Johnathan is very much looking forward to getting back out on the road, creating, and having more time to focus on some new projects.
“It's kind of nice to not go to work five days a week. I've been doing that - thirteen years I've been here. That's the longest run of any comic magician ever,” Johnathan states. “It just got to be kind of old after a while. I want to get back on the road and I want to travel overseas and do stuff like I used to - specials in Germany, all over. It's nice to drive to work, too, but it's old for me right now. I've got a million other projects I want to get working on.”
And just what has the Amazing Johnathan been busy working on?
“I built a haunted house this year. It was awesome. Since I was a little kid I've been building haunted houses in my basement and stuff, and this time I had the money to build a real one. It's pretty cool, it's a hotel downtown - they gave me the building basically to do whatever I wanted to do with it. I took two floors of it and turned it into a haunted house and we had a blast this Halloween,” Johnathan describes. “A lot of work, but big difference between building one in your basement and building one that the fire marshal has to approve. All the permits have to be filed, you know. It was fun. So what we're going to do is we closed it down, and we're going to reopen it probably about in a month and a half, and then try to make it to Halloween. A lot of businesses, they survive three weeks out of the whole year - these haunted houses, they can afford to make a living just opening up for three weeks.”
Johnathan also reflected on the last time he toured and landing his incredibly durative gig in Las Vegas, and how changing times both economically and in terms of his business relationships with the casinos affected his creative process.
“Towards the end of my last touring session thirteen years ago, the airlines were starting to get really crummy and customer service was bad - traveling just wasn't fun anymore and I was ready to get out and do the steady gig thing in Vegas, and it made me a lot of money. For the first six or seven years we were out here we were breaking records and stuff, but when the recession hit everybody took a big hit in Vegas, so it's just been mediocre money-wise, mediocre crowd-wise, and time to get back on the road and do some other projects,” Johnathan tells the BCSE. “That's another thing about Vegas, is that the casinos are treating the entertainers like tenants, because that's basically what we are. Everybody's paying rent for their room, they don't really care who they have - they just want the rent money. And it's different from the days, even thirteen years ago when I started they used to spoil us a little bit. There's no spoiling us now, it's just - they want your check at the end of every month. They don't care who's there. The mafia - the good old mafia days is what we need back.”
The Amazing Johnathan’s first tour in thirteen years will have him performing just one weekend per month, allowing the comic magician to focus on his favorite cities while still having time for his other projects.
“I just want to go out there - I don't want to take money out of the bank so what I'm going to do is I'm going to go out and do one weekend and keep in shape, and pay all my bills for the month. That's all I need to do is just one weekend. Boston will be the first of the tour - I don't have an agency anymore, so I've been calling clubs myself and booking rooms that I used to love to play thirteen years ago. Boston was one of them, and Atlanta, West Palm Beach - places where my core following is big. Wisconsin for some reason is like the biggest place that loves me,” Johnathan muses. “Now I'm doing a video podcast from the same hotel so we've been doing two weeks of filming those and that will be called BurnUnit.tv. I'm learning to be a talk show host, it's kind of cool. I'm doing different things than just doing my show - that's what's fun. I don't want to give up my show, I found myself doing five days a week and not being able to create as much for my show. When you're sitting still in one place you tend to get lazy and not write a lot of material, unless they offer you a TV special and then you're on your way again. I've been just not writing as much for my show as I should be and I decided just to do other things and get my flow back.”
Johnathan is the three time winner of The World Magic Award and his career longevity has made him loved by two generations around the world. He is hugely followed by fans in Germany, Australia, South America, and several other countries. Although he no longer tours the show very often, you can see him live in Las Vegas, the city he now calls his home. For the past thirteen years he has headlined in the top casinos breaking house records for attendance and has now become the longest running comic magician in the history of Las Vegas. In that time he has received The Las Vegas Review-Journal has given him the coveted "Best of Las Vegas" and Best Top 10 Show" award. The City Life has awarded him "Comedian of the Year". He is also the three time winner of the International Magic Award for "Best Comedy Magician."
The Wilbur, Bill Blumenreich and WAAF present The Amazing Johnathan
February 1, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.
The Wilbur Theatre is located at 246 Tremont St. in Boston’s Historic Theater District
For more information on The Amazing Johnathan visit http://www.amazingj.com/