By KAYLA PONGRAC Our Town Correspondent
Johnstown native Jonathan Burns and his friend Mark Hayward sold out three separate performances at Bottle Works Arts on Third two summers ago.
“Originally we planned on having one show, which sold out quickly,” said Burns, a comedian and contortionist. “Then (we) added a second and that sold out, so we planned a third, which was packed as well. It was great to know that the people in my hometown were still interested in what I was doing.”
Burns and Hayward are returning to the nonprofit arts center’s Art Works building to present a comedy and variety festival. The festival is to feature acts that Burns and Hayward have performed on “America’s Got Talent,” “Late Night with David Letterman” and “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.
In addition to eating some Coney Island hot dogs, Burns said he’s also looking forward to seeing some familiar faces in the audiences — just like last time.
“I started learning some magic tricks when I was about 12 years old,” said the Richland School District graduate. “I’d perform tricks for friends, family, complete strangers and anyone who’d watch. So when I come back all these years later and those same people are in the audience, that’s an awesome experience.”
This time around, Burns and Hayward will have some friends in tow: stand-up comedian and magician Harrison Greenbaum, comedy dog act Mutts Gone Nuts and improvisational music duo Missy Moreno and Jesse LE.
“It’s unlike any other comedy show you’ve ever seen. The festival features nationally touring stand-ups and world-renowned variety performers and mixes them into a show that is sure to amuse and amaze,” Burns said. “I’ve worked with all of these acts for years, but never at the same time. I’ve wanted to put a show like this together for a long time, and in May it will finally become a reality. It’s going to be an amazing night of laughs!”
Performances are scheduled for May 9 at 8 p.m. and May 10 at 11 a.m. The May 9 show is recommended for those ages 16 and older. The Saturday matinee, however, is for all ages.
“Performances like this one rarely happen in Johnstown, or even in the whole country for that matter,” Burns said. “I would say don’t miss your chance to be part of a unique experience that I know you’ll enjoy. You can see a comedy special on TV at home and enjoy it, but it’s a whole different experience with a large group of people live.”
They’ll perform nine shows in the span of six days; Johnstown is the first stop on their Pennsylvania tour.