Always Amazing *Closing Night Film*
Saturday, March 10
Doors 9:00PM | Show 9:30PM
Always Amazing is a film that documents the rise of talented magician/comedian The Amazing Johnathan, the unlikely fraternal friendship that Johnathan develops after meeting an awestruck 12 year old boy while on tour and the unfortunate terminal diagnosis that brought these two back together for one last run of shows.
Stand up comedian Steve Byrne has been privy, as a friend, to the adventures and misadventures of Joel Ozborn and The Amazing Johnathan for years. When he learned that Johnathan was coming out of retirement for one last run of shows and reuniting with Joel, Steve thought no one knows this story better than himself and decided to document not only their reunion but the backstory of their unorthodox friendship.
The film begins with Johnathan’s career ascent, from bombing at his high school talent show, discovering and honing his act as a magician and comic while working as a street performer in San Francisco and the one showcase that launched his career at the famed Hollywood Improv.
While on tour in Australia, Johnathan meets Joel Ozborn, a young boy who is starstruck at the performer from the states. An improbable bond is fortified over the years, as Joel becomes an employee, apprentice, alibi, confidant and brother/son/friend to Johnathan. Once Johnathan establishes a residency in Las Vegas as headliner, the trappings of Sin City become overwhelming, leaving a divorce in the wake and will ultimately test the strength of their friendship. The eventual parting amongst the two become inevitable, as Johnathan comes out of the fog stronger and richer than before. Joel, matures into a world wise man and the comedian he’s aspired to be since he first saw Johnathan all those years ago in Australia.
As life goes on, Johnathan is told by doctors he has a year to live due to his terminal diagnosis of cardiomyopathy. In the time that follows, Johnathan is living life knowing he’s on borrowed time but after outliving expectations by 3 years, Johnathan decides he’s going to hit the road, one last time to see if he’s still got it.
Johnathan puts forth, if he’s going to do it, he’s going to have Joel along for the ride. This decision forces these two emotionally introverted men to look back on their friendship and confront the ups and downs of their experiences together.
Always Amazing is ultimately the story of two comedians, who on paper shouldn’t be friends or even acquaintances and the rough waters, smooth sailing, they’ve navigated over the years and the nostalgia of hitting the road one last time together to realize they remain as close as ever.
Following the screening, hear from Steve Byrne and Joel Ozborn in a Q&A discussion about the film, moderated by Ben Miner!
Starring: Johnathan Szeles, Joel Ozborn, David Copperfield, Penn Gillette, Penny Wiggins, Jaimz Romero, Erica Vanlee and Anastasia Synn.
Directed By: Steve Byrne
Run Time: 78 Minutes
STEVE BYRNE has risen through the ranks of the comedy world to become one of the industry’s most innovative and sought-after performers. He has evolved throughout the years into an extremely versatile entertainer that delivers on a day-to-day basis. Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, Steve Byrne was born to a Korean mother and an Irish father.
In early 2017, his 4th stand up special Tell The Damn Joke premiered on Showtime.
Byrne was the star and creator of Sullivan & Son, a half hour comedy on TBS along with Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Productions for three solid seasons.
It all began after winning the 2006 TBS’ cutthroat competition. As his popularity began to expand, Byrne was featured in his very own half-hour Comedy Central Presents which was voted as one of the best specials of all time in the Comedy Central Standup Showdown. His third hour special Champion debuted on Netflix in May 2014 to rave reviews and his two previous specials, Steve Byrne’s Happy Hour & The Byrne Identity were two of the top rating specials on Comedy Central.
Byrne’s acting resume includes feature films like The Dilemma, Couples Retreat, Four Christmases and The Goods: The Don Ready Story. His television resume aside from starring in three season of TBS’ Sullivan and Son include ABC’s The Middle, Chappelle’s Show, The Howard Stern Show, NBC’s The Real Wedding Crashers and standup appearances on TBS’s Conan, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, CBS’s The Late Late Show, BET’s Comic View and a total of 10 appearances on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
A true international comedian, Byrne has performed to sold-out crowds around the world. He has been a featured comic at the Just for Laughs Festival (Montreal, Toronto and Chicago), HBO’s US Comedy Arts Festival in Las Vegas and the CanWest Comedy Fest in Vancouver. He has been part of several national comedy tours including The Sullivan & Son Tour, The Jameson Comedy Tour, Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour, The Kims of Comedy, The Camel Cigarettes Sin City Tour, and his own national Myspace Comedy tour. Byrne even had the honor of opening for esteemed musical acts such as Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Modest Mouse, Puddle of Mudd, Spoon, Rev. Horton Heat and many more. As a big supporter of the US troops, Steve also headlined several USO tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan and Guam.
JOEL OZBORN Where to begin? One night when Joel was just a young teenager, his father took him to see American comedian/magician, The Amazing Johnathan. Before Jonathan took to the stage however, Joel witnessed another comedian called Peter (who in later years would change his name back to Akmal.) By the end of that fateful evening, Joel knew he would become a comedian himself, and over the next few years he went to as many comedy shows as he could. Although he was often thrown out of venues such as the Sydney Comedy Store for being underage, the comedians he’d befriended, such as Peter, would sneak him back in through the side entrance.
“He’s disarming; he’s accessible without being common; articulate and clever without being smug… bloody funny.” THE AGE
Joel‘s first opportunity at stand up comedy came in the form of his high school public speaking competition. Rather than delivering a conventional speech on politics or the environment, he chose to turn his speech into a stand up routine about the anxiety of Wombat’s, which left both students and teachers in stitches, and Joel with the Public Speaking Award. Joel then began honing his craft on the street at Sydney’s Circular Quay, creating his own style of street comedy, which led to him winning the “Street Performer Of The Year” award presented by the Sydney Opera House, live on 2DayFM.
“I fell a little bit in love with Joel Ozborn. This tall, nonchalant Eric Bana look-a- like was perfect… went down a treat in a packed house. People were rocking backwards and forwards, holding in their stomachs and letting out shouts of laughter.”
Not too long after leaving school Joel got a call from The Amazing Johnathan who offered him to move to America and tour around the country with him. Joel jumped at the opportunity, and also further developed his street performing in Los Angeles on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Unlike Sydney’s Circular Quay with its families and tourists, Venice Beach was a hub of tattooed covered, python wearing, bodybuilding, bohemians, who needless to say were used to the bizarre. Joel then created more attention grabbing street comedy that included having a slingshot fired at his face and squeezing his body through a tennis racquet. After having spent the next few years traveling across America, taking in the best and worst that America had to offer, Joel finally got his opportunity to open for The Amazing Johnathan in front of a packed Las Vegas showroom. It was this experience that cemented Joel’s path with his direction of a life in comedy.
“His flair for improvisation left the crowd in stitches…” THE PROGRAM
Upon returning to Australia, Joel became a regular in comedy clubs across the nation where he continued to develop his stand up. Before to long, Joel ran into his old friend Peter, who had changed his name back to Akmal as he now had no trouble getting booked in RSL clubs, and he asked Joel to join him on his first national theatre tour. One of those gigs with Akmal included the Sydney Opera House, where Joel found himself performing only metres away from where he’d street performed years before, however this time he was in the House. When he wasn’t on tour, Joel continued to perform in clubs around Sydney where he met American comedian Arj Barker. It was Arj’s first national theatre tour that he asked Joel to join him on, and over the following years Joel would spend most of his time sharing the stage with his comedian friends on countless tours.