Each year we miss the Sundance Festival and kick ourselves for it. There, wonderful films seeking distributors are offered, promoted and awarded with prizes. For instance, we first heard about La La Land through Variety’s review of the film at the Sundance Festival. We knew that if and when it was picked up by a major studio, it would be a must see.
But, because we didn’t go to the festival, we missed it.
This year we missed the Amazing Johnathan documentary. It is currently untitled but we’re guessing the words “Amazing” and “Johnathan” will be in or very near the final title.
As readers of this award winning magic news site know, we have never actually won an award and we never let the truth get in the way of a good headline or story. Readers will also know that we love the Amazing Johnathan and one of our greatest disappointments – other than our failure to play for the Chicago Cubs or even be a batboy for goodness sakes – was missing the performance of this great entertainer at the Magic Castle in what was billed as his last performance ever, anywhere.
Johnathan has a fatal heart issue and literally any show could be his last.
Nonetheless, he continues to work and provide entertainment for thousands. We saw his show in Las Vegas and laughed so hard we split our shirt collar – we always keep it buttoned to prevent body lice from either entering or escaping, depending on the season or our access to showers.
We felt awkward but that’s what laughing hard imposes on one. We couldn’t stop laughing at one particular joke in his show that we cannot repeat because of our high standards for non-offending words or phrases in this blog. (We realize readers will no doubt point to the early days of our blog when every other word was an obscenity and we carried the latest news of putative magician Tony Spain’s exploits. Those days have passed, much like our kidney stones – painfully and with a final sense of relief.)
Johnathan honed his craft working the area near Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco. He was a street performer who controlled crowds with his antics and magic. He also derived income from the presentation of his wild, high-energy persona.
We particularly were/are fond of Psychic Tanya, his colleague on stage. Her antics often surpassed that of Johnathan but were usually outdone in the end by the man himself.
We can think of no other performer who entertains audiences as well as the Amazing Johnathan. We’re not just talking about magic – any other performer of any other craft (except for museum curator or public health workers) who can bring joy so easily. David Copperfield or Penn & Teller are up there with him but we rarely laugh as hard at their shows. Laughter is the best medicine and ask anyone who knows us, we’re sick and in need of such medicine.
We have heard that there are those who do not like the Amazing Johnathan.
We’re reminded of a Churchill quote apropos of such folks, “We who do need not concern ourselves with those who don’t.” Of course he was talking about something unrelated to stagecraft – like British politics or World War II or cigar smoking, but it still fits.
The untitled documentary has garnered great reviews and is described as the story of “a uniquely deranged magician who built a career out of shock and deception in the 1980s—but becomes a bizarre story about the unravelling of his documentarian.”
What’s not to like. Well, we suppose there is much not to like but nothing related to the main gist of this already too long article.
People who ask to be allowed into a traffic lane but don’t indicate their thanks by a simple hand gesture is something we don’t like.
Piano rolls of ragtime music that are not properly perforated for use on a modern player piano are unlikeable.
Pasta that is filled with unexpected contents that shock the system upon chewing qualifies as not good or likeable.
But our focus today is on the Amazing Johnathan and his new documentary.
We have no idea if it will be picked up by a distributor or if it will win awards at the various film festivals at which it shown, but we’d see it and likely many times.
We’re like that. If we enjoy something, we keep doing it until we have blisters or an intervention.
Here’s hoping it hits the right spot for those with the money and distribution channels.
He deserves it and we deserve to see it.
If we see it we will be sure to wear a turtleneck sweater to avoid the embarrassing splitting incident.
He is worth the itchy feeling around our neck and we hope that itchy feeling is due to the wool sweater and not body lice.
Check out his Sundance page here.