I want to pay tribute to the Amazing Johnathan before he drops dead.
We all avoid the thought of death and superstitiously try to avoid the topic but that dirty whore will strike each of us. The Amazing Johnathan has a heart ailment and his doctors have told him that if his medicine doesn't work he only has one year to live.
Imagine what you would do if you were told you only had one year to live.
After years of touring relentlessly he wants to stay at home, maybe buy a new big screen TV, maybe do heroin, maybe a demolition derby in his back yard?
I drove into his swank neighborhood, gated community with plush lawns and green trees in Las Vegas. Rich people can make it green anywhere. His house is a large sparkling palace with classic cars parked all over the front yard and back.
The 17 year old boy in me can't help but smile to see sitting in his drive way a 1967 midnight blue convertible GTO. His tasteful home has been modified to his specifications and every painting in his house has a trick or joke function hidden that can spring forth at his command. His opulent home is exactly the way you would dream Amazing Johnathan's house would be or a mad scientist with a wicked sense of humor. I'm impressed to see the life that he made for himself and I'm proud of him for being one of the few comedians who was smart with his money.
He earned it! Going from comedy club headliner to doing countless television appearances he opened up The Amazing Johnathan Theater in Las Vegas and his ominous presence could be felt advertised everywhere in the city during his decades run. I would credit Amazing Johnathan with being right at that turning point in Las Vegas history where it went from being a sad joke to the cool upgraded spot it is today. George Carlin was a fan of his and once left him a long complimentary message on his answering machine. He listens to it when he gets depressed he tells me. He attributes everything he has to drugs. He tells me the best and worst times he had on drugs. He is open with me and honest about his lunatic partying days. He tells me that dying is a lazy way to get compliments.
I met the Amazing Johnathan doing comedy festival and television tapings and we have been friends from sharing those experiences. Our mad men party periods never met and I only knew him in a professional way that I respected. His comedy for lack of a better description I would call rock & roll comedy magician but whatever you would call it the man always hit the stage like a hurricane with jokes coming at you from everywhere. For me personally the reason I love the Amazing Johnathan is because when I was a young comedian watching every stand up comedy show on television while dreaming of getting there myself that is when I saw him for the first time. Destroying the audience on television and me at home.
He was unlike all the other stiff, cookie cutter style comedians, he had his own style and his magic tricks involved fake blood and his eye popping out. Crazy shit! I loved him for his wildness and I respected him before I ever even met him.
In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Hamlet holds the skull of a comedian and he laments the fact that such a magic human who had made him laugh so hard is no longer of this earth. I ain't Hamlet and I ain't waiting until the man is dead to say how much I appreciate him. This tribute episode is not meant to be sad, it is meant to be alive and celebratory. For this reason I end the episode with a song I love instead of some sad sappy shit. The man left his mark on American entertainment and world wide comedy. I'm grateful that I know him and that he invited me over to his house to have this conversation with him.
It is my pleasure to present to you now the one and only Amazing Johnathan!
Intro song: Cutting Room (Hot Pants) – Oceanliners
End song: The Shouting Matches – Gallup, NM
Recorded at Johnathan’s house in Las Vegas, September 2014