Comedian and magician John Szeles, aka The Amazing Johnathan, has had a nearly 40-year career surviving the unthinkable: popping out his own eyeball, swallowing razorblades, skewering his tongue, sticking knives through his arm. But after being diagnosed with a fatal heart condition, he is demonstrating survival in a whole new way.
In 2013 Szeles was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a degenerative condition in the heart muscle, and was given a prognosis of about one year to live. In 2014, one year later, the longtime Las Vegas headliner announced to his audience that he would be stepping off the stage for good.
But retirement was not easy for the headband-wearing, high-energy performer who is known for his crazy antics and eccentric personality. Slowing his life down tremendously and spending his days resting and engaging in relaxed activities, such as painting and swimming, Szeles said he grew tired of “waiting around for death” and decided to return to the stage this year, including the Brea Improv for five shows on Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25.
“The thing is, they gave me a year and a half and that was almost three years ago, and I get tired of sitting and waiting for it to happen. So I just thought, I’m going to go back to work. … If I die, I die on stage, rather than in my bed,” Szeles said. “It’s weird waiting around for it to happen, and now after three years, I think maybe they were wrong. I do get tired fast, but I don’t exert myself. I can stick around.”
The 58-year-old Amazing Johnathan has performed all over the world, including for President Ronald Reagan and the president of France, and has appeared on television shows, such as NBC’s “Late Night with David Letterman,” Comedy Central’s “Lounge Lizards,” NBC’s “The World’s Wildest Magicians” and ABC’s “Caesars Palace 30th Anniversary Special.” He is also good friends with illusionist Criss Angel and has been featured on Angel’s A&E show…