Growing up, John Edward Szeles wanted to be a magician similar to one of his heroes, David Copperfield. But during a high school talent show, he realized he would never be a great magician. His childhood dream didn't end there, though. Szeles, who goes by the stage name the Amazing Johnathan, became a street performer and learned how to combine his love of magic with comedy.
This weekend, he'll bring his magic tricks, props and comedic act to the Fort Lauderdale Improv. Just don't expect to see a one-man Penn and Teller. Szeles, who posts a weekly show to BurnUnit.tv, has appeared on the former A&E series "Criss Angel Mindfreak" and on several Comedy Central specials, admits that his shows have not always gone as planned.
"Years ago, during a [magic show], things would always go wrong. It was chaotic. Boxes would collapse, and one time, I even killed a bird," the Las Vegas-based comedian recalls in a phone interview. "But people would laugh at the absurdity of it all."
A natural-born comedian, Szeles finds pleasure in scaring people through practical jokes such as "pretending to be sleepwalking" or "jumping out of closets." He works with an assistant during his shows but he will often bring his fans onstage. "They become my victims," he says, "but in a very playful way."
The Amazing Johnathan will perform Friday through Sunday at the Fort Lauderdale Improv, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 5700 Seminole Way, in Hollywood. Tickets cost $25. Go to Ftl.improv.com.