Most Cal State East Bay students can relate to the thoughts of what their life and career will look like after they graduate. This is something comedian Jonathan Burns also had to face after he received an Art Education degree from Millersville University in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 2004.
“I know when you are in your early 20s, it is hard to see where your career will take you,” Burns said. “Here are some things that have helped me over the years – work hard, be proactive by creating your own opportunities and find something you are passionate about – you can make a career out of anything.”
Burns has done just that by creating his own style that he has turned into a career in the entertainment industry. Burns performed at Cal State East Bay on Tuesday where he showcased his innovative style that combines comedy with magic and contortion. For decades, Burns has been getting paid to astonish and make people laugh, it is something he has been working towards since his childhood.
“I can probably equate my success to having a creative spirit and a strong work ethic,” Burns said. At the age of 12, Burns got his first gig performing magic at a birthday party. It was at this party, “I knew I needed to be in show business.” Burns developed and honed his craft all through high school and then college as he continued to make appearances and perform shows.
“It started as birthday parties and church functions when I was a teenager and the more I did, the better I got and the bigger and better opportunities followed,” Burns said.
One thing that helped Burns pursue an entertainment career was knowing that he was doing something he loved.
“Growing up I watched a lot of Pee Wee Herman and Weird Al Yankovic,” Burns said. “They are both hugely influential on my strive to be different.”
Being different is what helped Burns discover his act. The combination of magic, comedy and contortion is something emphasized in his act and on his website, fittingly titled “flexible comedy.”
“My favorite part is being creative,” Burns said. “This creative outlet has afforded me numerous opportunities and makes me feel fulfilled. I get to get on stage every night and share my weird thoughts and ideas and people come and watch.”
Burns encourages others to follow their dreams like he did because if you love your job you never really work a day in your life.
“I was always an attention seeking kid, performing musical armpit farts for my brother or contorting my body into rude and unusual shapes for my friends, was a daily occurrence,” Burns said. “Now I do these things for rooms full of people and they pay me for it. Jackpot.”