One of the most entertaining people ever to walk the planet has passed away. Jonathan Szeles, the trickster, comedian, magician passed away at his home in Las Vegas, having long suffered from degenerative heart disease.
Jonathan was well-loved and revered by his friends and family. Having had the opportunity to hang out with AJ, I always found him to be kind, concerned, and hilarious.
The magician began as a street magician in San Francisco. He appeared on several variety specials and talk shows in the mid-1980s through the 2000s, including "Late Night With David Letterman" and Fox's "Comic Strip Live." He was a national name on Comedy Central and hosted an hour-long special, "Wrong On Every Level." He also wrote a tutorial on magic tricks and practical jokes, "Every Trick in the Book."
A.J. arrived in Las Vegas in 2000 and was a top-selling headliner for several years at the Golden Nugget. He moved on to the Sahara, Koval Theater at Miracle Mile Shops, Bally's and Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort. His final appearance on stage was Jan. 13, during a roast of ex-Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman at Oscar's Steakhouse at the Plaza.
Prior to that appearance, Johnathan performed with Synn at the Wonderground magic showcase at The Olive Restaurant in October 2016. In January 2016, he reunited for a final time with Penny Wiggins, who played the daffy Psychic Tanya for more than 15 years, at Baobab Stage.
At the top of the show, Wiggins greeted A.J. with a line he'd actually written, "Weren't you supposed to be dead two years ago?"
My sincerest condolences to Anastasia and the rest of his family.