Comedians say they like playing to big crowds in small Pa. towns

 Contortionist comedian Jonathan Burns is taking his troupe on a small town tour of Pennsylvania. (Photo courtesy of One Night Only Comedy)

Contortionist comedian Jonathan Burns is taking his troupe on a small town tour of Pennsylvania. (Photo courtesy of One Night Only Comedy)

Jonathan Burns can get himself out of almost anything. The comedian, contortionist with a wiry frame can fold himself into a suitcase, and wriggle his way out of a tennis racket.

He has wrangled a roster of comedians, magicians, variety performers and a dog act to tour small towns throughout Pennsylvania. The One Night Only Comedy & Variety Festival — stopping in places like Phoenixville, Annville, and Zelienople (pop. 3800) features antics involving hula hoops, yo yos, and sundry dangerous objects.

“We know a lot of unusual people with unique talents,” said Burns, a native of Johnstown, Pa. now living in Lancaster.

He attracts some of his biggest audiences in small towns.

“Go to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, there’s so many other events happening, everyone is trying to get the attention from press and let people know about the show,” said Burns, who co-produced the festival with yo-yoist Mark Hayman. “When you show up in a little town, you’re the only thing happening and they welcome you and they’re excited that this unusual thing is coming through town.”

The One Night Only Comedy & Variety Festival dropped into Philadelphia earlier this week, to perform at the relatively small Mausoleum of Contemporary Art, which can hold 300 people. This weekend it heads to Chester County to play the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville,  which can accommodate twice as many.

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