Laughing Toward The Light: Comedian James Thornton Finds Himself at 50

This is true, I am so in love with what I’m doing right now. I love walking out on stage every night in a comedy club, saying things that resonate, making people laugh. If nothing else happens, I am good. I could do this for the rest of my life. I feel like I’ve arrived. I love it.

Episode 05

We’re keeping the laughs going as we continue our For the Love of Funny series–and this week we’ve got Kevin James Thornton, a comedian and entertainer, who, after spending his youth  in a fundamentalist church in the 90’s,  found a lot to laugh about. After moving to LA to make his way on stages at the Comedy Store and as an actor, Kevin wasn’t sure he was happy with how his life was going. After a move to Nashville and some serious contemplation about where to go next, the pandemic hit. Bored at home, Kevin discovered a little thing called TikTok and decided it might be fun to share some of the stories of what it was like to grow up gay in a fundamentalist church in the 90’s, and much to his surprise his videos were wildly successful. At 50 years old, Kevin had found his niche, and now he brings his unique brand of comedy (often sung as a story through an auto-tune device—because it was the 90’s, after all) ) with audiences across the U.S. and Europe and with over 2 million followers on social media. 


Episode Transcript

Hi everyone. Jen Hatmaker here, your host of the For the Love Podcast. You guys, welcome to this show. You’re going to be glad you’re here today. I know I say that a lot, but I really mean it. We are in the middle of a series called For the Love of Funny, and you know me, I just love comedy. I love humor. I love comics, I love comedians, I love funny people. I love funny writing. This whole series to me has just been delightful. We have a guest today who has been working in various forms of entertainment for over 20 years. He was a successful touring musician with his own band for a while, a filmmaker, and a standup comic who currently lives in Nashville, and he’s just unique when it comes to comedy. I sure hope you’re already following him because you’re immediately going to be delighted.

We have Kevin James Thornton on today. So, he would say he was pretty happy with the way his life was going and sort of a renaissance guy in various areas of entertainment. But at the beginning of the pandemic, he kind of accidentally tapped into a part of his life sharing it on TikTok when we were all in such a weird time, and TikTok was on the rise and we were all isolated and on our phones a lot, and he started doing this bit on TikTok, talking about his life growing up, both kind of fundamental in a fundamentalist church and also gay. It just took off. You’ll hear that he prefaces a lot of his stories with the phrase “In my super fundamentalist church.” It’s really hard to actually explain and then he will interject because it was “the nineties.” I cannot do it justice.

It’s so relatable to so many of us. There are side-splitting stories that a ton of us could have had or did have happened in some shape or form if you kind of went to a conservative church of any stripe growing up, and I don’t know how to explain this, but he does this effect with his audio. It’s so different and it’s so funny and it makes me laugh out loud. Although he and I did talk today, even if you did not grow up in that background, and that’s not your childhood, his stuff is still absolutely hysterical. So you don’t have to have had that sort of adolescence for any of it to be funny or to make sense to you. He has found his sweet spot. So from the beginning of the pandemic to now, he now has over 2 million followers on TikTok and Instagram, and he is just kind of in full bloom. He is on a worldwide tour right now, tons of shows are already sold out. He has just really stepped into his gifts, and his talents as a comic. He’s been featured everywhere, like HuffPost and The Advocate, the New Yorker.

He was featured in a piece on NPR’s All Things Considered, and of course, It Was The 90’s Tour is sold out all across the US and Europe. I think if you don’t already know him, you’re just going to love him. I’m so happy I got him on the show today. He’s on tour and was like, “I have a hard stop at this time. I’ve got to catch a flight to my next place.” I’m like, “Great. I’ll squeeze in wherever we can do it.” He’s just delightful and warm and funny and charming, and you are going to love him if you don’t already. I’m so pleased to share my conversation with the absolutely wonderful Kevin James Thornton.




A Comedy Bit on Kevin’s YouTube Channel

A Comedy Bit on Kevin’s YouTube Channel

The Comedy Store in West Hollywood

For the Love Episode with Nate Bargatze

Kevin James Thornton’s Upcoming Shows

CONNECT WITH Kevin James Thornton
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