Kevin J. Thornton nimbly takes the stage at 4 in the afternoon for another performance of his one-man show, I Love You (We’re F*#ked). “It’s early in the day, isn’t it?” he asks. “I feel like I’ve just gotten up.” And looking at him, with a slight rawness around the eyes and a gracefully rumpled quality to his stage ensemble, you could quite believe it. But there’s nothing of the grouch, morning or otherwise, about Kevin. His speaking voice is low, calm, almost velvety; the sort of voice that could induce a tranquil confidence even as it asks you to ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your table tops are stowed, and your seats are in an upright position, as the captain will shortly be attempting a crash landing. Standby.
Kevin J. Thornton, ladies and gentlemen, is that rarest of the rare amongst stand-up comedian songsters. Kevin J. Thornton is seriously relaxed. That poise, that apparent ease of manner, will divest you of all your mundane frets and anxieties (not the least of which might be “is this going to be funny?”). You are in the metaphorical hands of a gifted masseur who knows very well how to de-stress those kinked little places, revisit old sites of tension, and tickle you in an intimate, respectful way.
This show has a nostalgic quality about it, mixed with a tale of heartbreak and disillusionment, as Kevin revisits his favorite era, the 80s (Ricky Schroeder and Silver Spoons; Prince and the Revolution; Duran Duran), reminisces, and recounts the details of the break-up of his last big relationship. The humor is knit into his delivery; there is no arduous stoking towards a punch line. With a guitar and a harmonica, his own penned songs punctuate the fluid, free associative, story telling. He is spontaneous and reactive, elastically able to step outside the act and throw you another peculiarity, then return to “the script” without adjusting the cruise control. Recalling my role as a reviewer, I felt myself straining to sense the proverbial pea of discontent in my theater seat, and remembering briefly some lines from another great 80s cultural instigator, Alan Parker’s “Fame”, and the mantra of the ballet tutor, I wanted to shout “the sweat, Kevin, where’s the sweat?”
When there is sweat, or something with a ragged edge in the act, it comes in the form of Kevin’s singing voice, which can extend to some pretty growly bass notes as he rings the emotion from his unquestionably resonant songs. The delivery is full-hearted and affecting, the spontaneous applause immediate and appreciative. “Thank you,” Kevin enjoins, “that is entirely the correct response.” It is the smooth-voiced airline steward speaking once more, and Thornton-service has been resumed.
Really, it’s almost impossible to taste any medicine with this artful spoonful of sugar.
Has Kev just got everyone too easily in the palm of his hand? “New York, it’s a tough crowd,” he shrugs, when a tale involving microphone fellatio simulation and stage stool anal penetration (convincing), while he lectures on the correct ethical standards regarding exploitation of youthful (for the record let’s say they’re nineteen) wide-eyed admirers, fails to elicit anything more than a heightened purring sound from his audience. “That one was pretty controversial in Tucson.” There’s a bit of a glide in everything he does. A comfortably out gay man, Kevin’s brand of humor is fresh and unassuming, not clubby and bitter. He’s got the hard knocks, the alcohol issues, the tattoos. But as familiar and all as these might be, he’s got a gentler, breezier take on things and, OMG! a little bit of heart about it all. Kevin could sell his grandmother that tale about ass-f*#king, he’s that clever, and that nice. He’s just precious.
~~~I Love You (We’re F*#ked) Presented by 55BC Nashville, TN UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place) $15 Thu 2/24 @ 10:30pm, Sat 2/26 @ 4pm, Sun 2/27 @ 4pm, Fri 3/4 @ 9pm, & Sun 3/6 @ 1pm
FRIGID New York Festival 2011 will run February 23-March 6 at The Kraine Theater & The Red Room (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1sr Ave and Ave A). Tickets ($10-$16) may be purchased online at www.FRIGIDnewyork.info or by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444. All shows will run 60 minutes long or less.