Contortionist Johnathan Burns to put on magical performance at Veishea

Cole Komma

Johnathan Burns is a man of many talents. He performs magic, juggles, tells jokes, all while moving his body in unnatural ways. Burns, contortionist and comedian, will perform at 9 p.m. and midnight April 20, 2013, in the Great Hall.

“It was sort of a progression,” Burns said. “As a kid, I would always put my leg over my head at the family reunion. And I would gross out girls in gym class by twisting my knee certain ways.”

Burns said that most of the contortions done in his show are innate abilities. But his other skills, magic and comedy, were developed over time.

“When I was in middle school I got into magic. I went to a local magic shop and started hanging out there,” Burns said. “That’s what really got me into performing.”

Burns then began to perform at birthday parties and other special events. In college, Burns began to add contortion to his act and “that side of it took over the magic side of [the act],” Burns said.

After college, Burns continued to perform for college crowds across the nation.

“They’re very enthusiastic. They’re up for anything,” Burns said. “A lot of times when people come to my show it might be the first time they saw a comedy show or a magician or something unique. So you usually get a great reaction from them.”

Performing for others is a skill that comes from practice, and Burns made it very clear that to become a good performer, getting up on stage is key.

“I’ve come a long way since my little birthday party magic show,” Burns said. “And my first few shows at colleges were definitely a struggle. But just from doing it and really working hard at it, it has become something successful.”

These struggles came mostly from a lack of experience.

“When I first started, I was still the age of the kids in the audience. So I could relate to them on that sense, but I just didn’t have enough experience,” Burns said.

“To be a performer, you have to have a lot of stage time. You can think of the greatest thing, and you may think it’s the funniest or most amazing thing ever,” Burns said. “But then when you put it up in front of people they may not respond to it at all. The audience gives you a lot of information about what’s good and what’s not.”

His passion for what he does has kept Burns going throughout the early struggles of perfecting his live show. Loving what you do, Burns said, is part of being a good performer.

“I would say that you have to love it, you have to really love being on stage and really want to do it,” Burns said. “Sometimes there are people who are sort of forced into it, like, if their parents did it, and like, ‘Oh, you’re part of the family circus.’ You can kind of tell through their performance that they’re not totally into it.”