The Amazing Johnathan has been cracking up audiences with his in-your-face comedy routine since the early 80s. The real magic of Johnathan’s act is his acerbic play on the conventions of stage magicians. His constant assault on his stereotypically clueless blonde stagehand, coupled with the meta humor injected into each trick, turns corny magician stereotypes on their head. From HBO and Comedy Central specials, to a 13 year Vegas residency, Johnathan’s career is heralded as the most successful solo comedy/magic act in the country, but it appears to be a disappearing one as his stop at Laffs Inc. in Toledo marks his final performance.
I have heard your retirement is due to health reasons. Could you elaborate on that?
I have heart failure. I have a bad heart. The oxygen that's being pumped to my heart just isn't enough. It's affecting my legs, my hands, all my extremities. They've given me blood thinners, so it helps but it's basically a degenerative heart disease. It's going to get worse and worse.
I was a little worried when I heard Toledo was the last show, that we somehow disheartened you that much: "Toledo, screw it I’m done."
[Laughs] That's amazing, after Toledo there's nothing left to do. That's the pinnacle of showbiz. It's like playing Carnegie Hall.
[Laughs] How has the road been? You're billed as the longest running comedy/magic act in Vegas history so has it been weird traveling?
Yeah, I just did 13 years in Vegas and honestly going back on the road has been fun. I've been at it about a year, and I announced my farewell tour about 2 months ago. I did my hometown, which is Detroit. And then three other cities and they've all been turning out in big numbers to say goodbye. A lot of the fans are crying, and it's been very emotional, people coming up and telling me what I've meant to them over the years. People with cancer telling me I've cheered them up, which has been amazing.
Has being ill affected your ability to perform at all?
You know what, I didn't feel it until about 2 weeks ago in San Diego. I felt like my body was shutting down, my legs were getting stiff, I was losing my balance. And I really thought I'm not going to be able to finish this tour. But then I just did Orlando this weekend and didn't have any of that. I don't know why, so Boston next week we'll see how it goes. I don't think the audience could tell though, I asked my road manager and they said toward the end I was slowing down, but the audience didn't know.
So you've been relying more on your comedic chops than magic for the more recent shows?
I don't have magician chops. [Laughs] My show is all comedy, and is really tight right now, so it's especially hard to give up. You'd figure after 25 years it'd be getting a little stale, but it isn't. Standing ovations prove that.
But now I have to explain to the audiences that I'm sick when I first come out. I'm wearing a defibrillator vest, so If they see me fall it's not a joke. They understand and they laugh. But it's kind of sad too. So after the show it feels good for them to stand up and show me that they care.
Is there any legacy you want to leave with your fans?
It's very sad. Like last night it was my last show in Orlando, and I had to get off stage before I started crying. It's emotional
What do you think you'll take with you? What's most important that you've gotten from the fans?
Laffs Inc. 3922 Secor Rd. 419-214-0700 Thursday, May 8pm with addition shows Fri. & Sat. May 3rd.
Shows at 8:00pm and 10pm for tickets go to laffsinc.com/event.cfm?id=309491