Kevin J. Thornton shares his 'Strange Dreamz'
Musician, storyteller, and stand-up comedian Kevin J. Thornton returns to Nashville with his newest show for a one-night-only event at Canvas Lounge on Wednesday, April 25.
Coming off his highest-rated LGBT podcast on Miami’s Click Click Expose Online Radio Network, Thornton’s Strange Dreamz is a mix of music and storytelling about race, AIDS, current events and religion.
“It’s pretty cutting edge,” he says. “The funny thing is I tried a lot of it for the very first time in Indianapolis, and I was kinda scared. Most of the people who come to my shows they know what they’re in for.” Thornton adds that while the crowd was not filled with rednecks, he still wondered if someone was going to walk out in the middle of the show.
“In my mind, I was pushing boundaries,” he says. “ And then in the middle of it, I thought I can take this way further. It wasn’t coming off like, ‘Oh, my god!’ I wanted a little more of ‘I can’t believe he just said that.’”
After Sex, Dreams, & Self-Control, his debut show that sold out all performances at Bongo Java’s After Hours Theatre, Thornton and his then-boyfriend moved to Los Angeles, where he began taking stand-up comedy classes before winning the "New Faces" contest at The Comedy Store in Hollywood.
“That kind of set everything on different course,” he says, “so I just skipped two years of paying dues it seemed like.”
Thornton started writing more stand-up material. Then his relationship ended, and he realized it was time to move on.
“At that point I was like, you know what, I learned what I came here to learn, and I’m going back out on the road with a new show,” he says. He toured I Love You (We’re ******) all last year before wrapping it up in October and moving back to Nashville.
“I came back here this winter,” Thornton says. “I’ve been holed up in a basement over by Belmont and wrote a brand new piece. I wrote a brand new book, The Universe Sock Puppet. A lot of my new material is in the book but they’re two separate things. I’m going to head back out on the road again with a brand new show.”
While his music will still play a role in Strange Dreamz as it did in Sex, Dreams & Self-Control and I Love You (We’re ******), that role has changed quite a bit.
“Music is also forever a part of me,” he explains. “It’s something I’ve always worked on. Song writing and singing and guitar-playing, something that I’ve done literally my entire life. But now the music seems to almost serve as kind of plot points in my show now, rather than featured music. It’s almost like I’ll tell a story then sing a little transitional moment to get to the next place, which I guess that’s different and stand-up comedians don’t do that really.”
Thornton likens himself to Sandra Bernhardt, his biggest influence, and aspires to be the male version of the big gay-loved comedic divas.
“This year actually is the most Pride Festival gigs I’ve gotten,” he says. “I’ve gotten three or four of those this year, so maybe I’m getting my foot in there. And a large portion of my book, The Universe Sock Puppet, is about my frustrating romances.
“My material is so gay,” he adds with a laugh.
Kevin J. Thornton will present Strange Dreamz at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at Nashville’s Canvas Lounge on Church Street before launching on a tour across the U.S. and Canada spanning May through September. Tickets cost $10 and are available at the door or online at www.kevinjthornton.com.