The Always Amazing Johnathan

I realized recently that it had been way too long since I caught the Amazing Johnathan show. This decision was possibly related to the opening of the newest franchise of ‘Pink’s’ hot dog stand on the Vegas Strip, located on the sidewalk in front of the Hollywood Planet Hotel.

To those in the know ‘Pink’s’ is a legend among hot dog lovers, and best of all, is just a short hop from the Magic Castle in Hollywood. At 2:00AM there are lines that form a block long to buy the best chili dog in the world, I realize this is a bold statement, however I will fight to the bitter end any debate or disagreement with this statement. Their hot dogs are messy, greasy, sloppy and unbelievably enjoyable  which is pretty much the case with the Amazing Johnathan’s show.

While Johnathan’s show may, like ‘Pink’s, be a tad low on the magical nutritional level, it is quite simply one of the funniest entertainments on the strip. It is living proof what can be achieved by a Road Warrior in his prime. There is also a surprisingly high degree of structure involved in the gags, bits, comedy and shtick that comprises his show. As a performer, I LOVE structure, and all the more when it isn’t paraded on the surface. Over the years, Johnathan has made his act tighter than most ten-minute silent manipulative acts even dream of.

I have seen ‘Amazing’ perform in all of his Las Vegas showrooms and his current home is the Harmon Theatre, which in spite of its name is less like a theatre than an ultra-cool nightclub. It has a great seating pattern and serves strong drinks. The staff all wear a custom tee-shirts that reads “F@#K YEAH,’ which perfectly sums up the spirit of the occasion.

Before the show begins, a roving video camera scours the audience and lingers on audience members just long enough to flash extremely politically incorrect statements about the ‘victim.’ The results are hysterical and get huge laughs; ‘A.J.’ knows his crowd and this is an audience that looks like it would rather catch H1N1 flu than a dose of political correctness. This way they know they are in the right place before the show even begins.

The show officially began with a ten-minute segment by Charlotte Pendragon. She began with a curious card in shoe routine, continuing with a four-ring Linking Ring routine. She closed with a sub-trunk routine, assisted by a stunning female assistant. Big props to Charlotte for being back onstage.

The Show really begins with the appearance of ‘Amazing’ and the party starts along with it. When you laugh once at Johnathan,the rest is history and you won’t stop laughing for the next 65 minutes. He can get more comic reaction from a raised eyebrow thanmost performers can with a trunk full of jokes and props. I’ve said it before and don’t hesitate in saying it again, Amazing Johnathan is the funniest comedy magician in the world, a one of a kind force of nature. If you don’t agree, you are probably the kind of person who craves a ‘Der Wienershnitzel’ hot dog as the finale to a night on the town.

I was particularly impressed by how many new one-liners and bits ‘A.J.’ had seamlessly added to his act. They were perfectly integrated into the show and kept things fresh, without changing the basic format, which works like clockwork. Sometimes it takes a great deal of wisdom not to keep tampering with something that works— until it doesn’t! I did notice that he had dropped any references or jokes about drugs in his show. As a performer, I found this very satisfactory, as their absence did nothing to detract from his impact, he just doesn’t need them.

One thing I did miss, however, was the opening segment with Psychic Tanya but I suspect that will return after Johnathan films his new TV special. The part of Psychic Tanya is played by the very talented Penny Wiggins. Penny just gets funnier and funnier each time I see her. She has the rather difficult task of playing giddy, blonde counterpoint to ‘Amazing’s’ uber macho/brash charm. I really must catch Penny’s solo comedy act ASAP as I have a definite feeling that in the very near future she will be whisked away by a TV producer for a sit-com.

What more can I say about the show, I think it is brilliant, and I would be delighted to see it again tonight. Of course, the ‘Pink’s’ chili dog wouldn’t be any handicap to that scenario! However in all honesty ‘Pink’s’ would only be the shredded cheese on top of the Vienna Dog (in a bandana) that is the Amazing Johnathan. If you haven’t seen this show it’s a must see on your next Vegas visit, unless of course you are a prude in which case Donny & Marie are at the Flamingo.

~ by Nick Lewin on March 18, 2010.

One Response to “The Always Amazing Johnathan”

  1. Hey Nick, once again you’ve managed to encapsulate the true essence of a performing beast in surprisingly few words. You are right on the mark when discussing the time and effort that Jonathan puts into the structure of his act…organized chaos. I’ve seen him live a handful of times and can count those evenings as among the most laugh-filled of my life….right up there with you, Aaron Fisher and a whole lot of booze in Little Rock, Arkansas. Now THAT was organized chaos.

    All my best,


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