The Amazing Johnathan

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The Amazing Johnathan
The Amazing Johnathan, 2008.jpg
Johnathan in 2008
Birth nameJohn Edward Szeles
Born (1958-09-09) September 9, 1958 (age 62)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
MediumMagician, stand-up, actor
Years active1983-2014, 2017-present
Sandra Bowing
(m. 1995; div. 2000)
(m. 2014)

John Edward Szeles (born September 9, 1958), better known by the stage name The Amazing Johnathan, is an American stand-up comedian and magician. His act is mostly composed of hijinks, interaction with one specific audience member, and a few legitimate magic tricks. From 2001 to 2014, he was a year-round headliner in Las Vegas. Self-described as the "Freddy Krueger of Comedy",[2] Szeles performs wearing his everpresent headband and his shows frequently use gore, such as pretending to suck on his own hanging eyeball, cutting his wrists, and skewering his own tongue. He is also good friends with fellow performer Criss Angel, and has helped Angel perform a variety of illusions, most notably during his three guest appearances on Mindfreak.


Early career[edit]

Szeles, who began his career performing in the streets of San Francisco,[3] first appeared on television in The 8th Annual Young Comedians Show in 1983 and later went on to become the host of the short-lived 1991 syndicated variety/game show Ruckus. He appeared on various talk and variety shows from the mid-80s to mid 2000s. His only credited performance as an actor was The Obligatory Holiday Episode of The Weird Al Show (playing the part of Uncle Johnathan). He has made several appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, a record 24 appearances on Fox's Comic Strip Live, and has had several specials on Comedy Central including Comedy Central Presents, Lounge Lizards and more recently his own one-hour special entitled Wrong on Every Level. He dedicated the special to his Uncle Eugene, who showed him his first card trick which "started this whole mess". He appeared in the 2005 documentary The Aristocrats.

Johnathan had success in Australia, becoming a household name due to his many well-received performances on Channel 9's "Hey Hey It's Saturday".[4]

Szeles has also authored a how-to book on practical jokes titled Every Trick in the Book, a compilation of both classic practical jokes and plain magic tricks, along with his own original material in both categories. He is currently finishing up his memoirs, entitled, "Drive It Like You Stole It."

Recent years[edit]

In 2008, Szeles combined two of his passions (classic car collecting and drive-in movie theaters) to open the "Amazing Underground" a members-only indoor drive-in movie theatre located within his warehouse facilities in Las Vegas.

As of 2011, Szeles was performing regular shows in Las Vegas at the Harmon Theater while also taking select dates at venues across the United States and in Australia. 2011 marks Szeles' third year of performing at the Harmon Theatre and Szeles' 11th consecutive year as a full-time Las Vegas headliner. He has won "Best Comedian" award from Las Vegas Review Journal, Comedian of the Year from Nevada Magazine, Top Ten Acts in Vegas (LVRJ) and is the longest running, most successful solo comic magician in U.S history.

In 2013, Szeles hosted an online talk show called "Burn Unit".[5]

Personal life[edit]

In March 2007 it was reported that Szeles was diagnosed with "a serious heart condition".[6] The performer's website identified the condition as cardiomyopathy and went on to assert that, due to a combination of weight loss and blood thinners, he was doing well.

In December 2012, Szeles ended his one-year contract with Bally's and ceased performing in Las Vegas. He had been performing in the town for 13 years. Szeles toured throughout 2013, playing The Improv comedy clubs. On June 7, 2014, he married Anastasia Synn.

However, his heart condition worsened, and Szeles announced that he would effectively retire, performing a final show in Toledo for the general public, and then for members of The Magic Castle on June 30 and July 1 of 2014. Szeles' final shows were sold out and he received standing ovations each night. On November 5, 2014, in front of a live audience on ENT Speaks, he stated that he had a year to live.[7]

In 2017, he played several shows across the United States.[8]

A documentary titled The Amazing Johnathan Documentary about his illness and return to the stage was released on Hulu in 2019.[9]

A second documentary titled Always Amazing: The True Story of the Life Death and Return of Amazing Johnathan chronicled Amazing Johnathan's career particularly within the scope of his relationship with Joel Ozborn. It was also released in 2019 via YouTube. [10]


  1. ^ Robin Leach. "The Amazing Johnathan weds Anastasia Synn at A Special Memory Chapel in Las Vegas". Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  2. ^ Blowen, Michael (1998-04-17). "Pauly Shore, Part 2: The grown-up years?". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-11-09. The Amazing Jonathan, the self-proclaimed Freddie Krueger of Comedy, is at the Comedy Palace at Grill 93 off Route 93 in Andover tonight and tomorrow night.
  3. ^ "Best bets 1/18". Los Angeles Times. Orange County edition. 2001-01-18. p. F.2. Retrieved 2008-11-09. A San Francisco street performer in the '70s, the Amazing Jonathan...
  4. ^ "'The Amazing Johnathan' reveals he is dying". minisites. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Amazing Johnathan's Burn Unit". Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  6. ^ Weatherford, Mike (March 8, 2007). "Amazing Johnathan to bid farewell". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on December 18, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-07.
  7. ^ "ENT Speaks Amazing Johnathan". YouTube. 5 November 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Amazing Jonathan Live Dates".
  9. ^ "The Amazing Johnathan Documentary". Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Always Amazing". Retrieved 10 March 2018.

External links[edit]