The Amazing Johnathan mixes comedy, magic and mayhem

The longtime performer has a run of shows at Tampa Improv this weekend.

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The Amazing Johnathan

Tampa Improv, 1600 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa.

July 28: 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. July 29: 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. July 30: 7 p.m. $25

813-864-4000. Learn more.

click to enlarge The Amazing Johnathan brings comedy, magic and a little blood to a run of shows at Tampa Improv this weekend. - Personal Publicity/Nicole Greene
Personal Publicity/Nicole Greene
The Amazing Johnathan brings comedy, magic and a little blood to a run of shows at Tampa Improv this weekend.

The Amazing Johnathan is the magician who won't disappear.

A worsening heart condition left him with around a year to live, according to doctors. His career, which spanned decades and included several television shows, specials and a 13-year run in Las Vegas, was over. He did farewell shows, gave away many of his possessions and waited for the end. 

That was back in 2014. But something strange happened. Or, rather, didn't happen. The Amazing Johnathan didn't die.

Since he figures to be around for a while longer, he decided to get back to performing. His schedule is more relaxed, and he needs to sit down at some points during his shows. But he's still The Amazing Johnathan, mixing magic, quick wit, audience interaction, a little violence (we're pretty sure it's part of the illusion) and plenty of comedy into one unusual show. And he'll bring all of it to Tampa Improv in Ybor City this weekend for a series of special engagement shows.

We caught up with the comedian/magician and he told us about what volunteers can expect and what's kept his act going all these years.

CL: If you could only see one show on a day off, which would you choose: A fantastic stand-up comedian or a fantastic magician, and why? 

Amazing Johnathan: A fantastic comedian, because there's not as many of them out there and laughing is more fun for me. Laughing is more fun then amazement; that's why I combine the two.

You've had a longer career than the majority of comedians and magicians you knew when you were getting started. At some point their careers fizzled while you kept going. What was the toughest obstacle to success and to what do you attribute your longevity? 

The toughest obstacle to success was going through my partying phase. I had the option of going through this being a wild boy, or straightening up and doing it the faster way. I chose the wild, longer, more fun way — like so many others.  

I think my longevity is due to the silliness of the show...not doing topical humor and just using crazy props. It stands the test of time. Also, over the years I kept getting faster and faster with my wit. That helps heaps. 

Your show often involves audience volunteers. That requires you to deal with an unknown variable, be entertaining and concentrate on the magic aspect, all at the same time. What's the secret to keeping all that going at once?

The guy I pick thinks he's going to be onstage with me for a few minutes, but he's actually up there for a half hour. He is going to be put through the ringer but still has a great time. I make him look like a champ up there. He'll remember this time forever!  

As long as he doesn't try to be a smart-ass, I'll make him look great.


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