From his plaid long-sleeved shirt down to his rolled up jeans and Vans, Dave Thornton is undeniably Melbourne. A Brunswick local, he loves the inner north and wants to give the crowds of his city nothing but local, relatable content in his latest show Lean Into It at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Casual, cool and extraordinarily down-to-Earth, Thornton makes you feel as though he’s a highly charismatic friend telling joke-riddled story after story over a pint at the pub. He starts one telling by stating, “oh, you’re all from Melbourne, you know where I’m talking about. So this happened on the 7/11 on Sydney Road in Brunswick.”
That’s not to say he’s just spit-balling content either. His set is well crafted, with witty call-backs and links throughout. There are often times where you’ll think, ‘huh, that was pretty clever’.
He knows his audience. His material is made for Melburnians and he doesn’t try to pretend otherwise. He takes jabs at lawyers, saying if they were police officers they’d all be constables without the stables, defends accountants for being badass motherfuckers, takes aim at Baby Boomers, brings up the pay gap and has a jab at ticket inspectors. Look, it’s fair to say this show might not tickle those on the right-leaning side of politics, but for those from the inner north, you’ll be laughing and nodding along the whole way.
At one point he asks the crowd, “What do Baby Boomers call our generation?” before quickly adding, “Oh that’s right, tenants.”
However, don’t think his show doesn’t contain jokes making fun of Brunswick and the surrounding suburbs, too. He’s a veteran of self-deprecating humour and is taking the locals along for the ride this year as he mocks corduroy pants, vegan leather shoes and takeaway coffee that costs as much as a house deposit. He adores the alternative nature of the northerly end of town, but he’s not shying away from the fact there’s a lot to take aim at there too.
The comic has recently become a father of two girls, proudly telling the audience that one is two years old and the other just a mere four months. He embraces being a dad in the best way possible: with a series of dad jokes. After telling the audience his youngest daughter smashed her first ever KPI and arrived on her due date that he knows she’s already going to be better than the Prime Minister because as opposed to all the Prime Ministers of the last ten years, she actually went a full term. Then, backs it up by saying it’s not a political joke, he’s not anti-Liberal, but his joke was pro-Labor.
Thornton’s high energy and charm luckily carry his embracement of dad jokes, as he pulls them off without fostering eye rolls but rather to rumbles of laughter.
He appears humble about it all too. It doesn’t feel as though he’s just running through the motions thanking the audience for coming to see him at the start and end of his show, but is genuinely stoked to have them there. He dabbles in crowd work, and rather than this being daunting, it’s almost as if he’s getting down on the audience’s level and saying, ‘have fun with me too’.
Thornton is at ease on stage. He knows his material is going to work because he knows the crowd: progressive Melbourne locals like himself. Lean Into It is observational comedy unquestionably made for those with postcodes in the 3000s.
Highlight: His jokes pointed at Baby Boomers. Who doesn’t love a good jab at the landlord generation?
Lowlight: When he referred to Brunswick as ‘Funswick’. C’mon mate.
Crowd Favourite: The very real phone prank he plays on a man who almost run him and his pram over. It’s childish but it’s also extremely clever.
By Marnie Vinall