Look up ‘likeable’ in the dictionary. Get some scissors and carefully cut out the whole definition.
Now, photocopy it enough times so you can cover every other word in said dictionary with your carefully cut-out definition of ‘likeable’. Use glue for that last bit. Now you’ve got an entire dictionary where the only word is ‘likeable’. And it's still only about two-thirds of the way to accurately emphasising what a cheery, warming presence Thornton has when he bounds onstage.
Women lean forward, men nod in fraternal appreciation. He is a performer who has aimed squarely at the ‘likeable Aussie male’ stereotype and made it his own.
White, male Australian comedians take up a lot of elbow room at the Adelaide Fringe, and elsewhere. BBQ-fodder observations on marriage and kids and aren’t-our-politicians-crazy are in great supply. Thankfully, in 'So On And So Forth', the audience are spared the small empty spot that appears when you’ve laid a large, safe bet on a predictable night of humour when you go to see the funny man from TV.
Yes, the audience is there to see their lives on stage, ruffled up and made lighter. That’s the appeal here. The crowd were Thornton’s contemporaries, the Australian middle was well-represented in Studio 7 at the Adelaide Fringe. The friendly room is amplified as the show begins with Thorton’s generous crowd-work. It’s rare to feel so welcomed to a show.
'So On And So Forth' plays in the relatively safe fields of politics and relationships, but the delivery is Thornton’s trademark; every story he tells, every joke, seems to leave a bit of room for conversation. He’s your funniest mate, and he’s about to share the spotlight.
That gag about old credit-card machines? That was just a warm up! Go on, tell them that one about the … okay, one more gag. Listen to this… And on it goes.
By the time Thorton’s done praising tradies, deprecating himself over anger issues and telling a surprisingly satisfying story about mediation, you’ve spent a great evening in the company of a funny bloke.