MILTON JONES | COMEDY INTERVIEW
The one-liner standup speaks to Alec Evans about the nonsense and escapism of his Milton Jones Is Out There tour.
His CV features everything from Mock The Week to Live At The Apollo, and it’s fair to say even casual followers of comedy will have seen some of Milton Jones’ material. With his nonsensical one-liner style, reminiscent of a more family-friendly and less tidy-haired Jimmy Carr, he is taking his show to Swansea this December. What can people who have seen him on their TV screens learn about Milton as a person from this tour?
“They learn absolutely nothing!” he chuckles. “It’s pure escapism. It’s all fairly inoffensive, there’s no being nasty for the sake of it, just pure daftness. I get a massive audience age range, from 10-year-olds to 90-year-olds. If you like laughing about nonsense, then it’s for you.”
The current tour he finds himself on is called Milton Jones Is Out There, a show that sees him “holding up the mirror of truth to society”. There is an interesting creative process behind coming up with a new show, he says. It starts with individual jokes, which he then gives a bit of trial-and-error at new material nights. From there, he comes up with 100-150 jokes which he scans for themes to base his show around. Unsurprisingly given popular comic themes at the moment, this show has spawned many jokes about politics.
“It’s based on the premise of what I would do if I got into power,” he says. “The bar is quite low on both sides of the Atlantic, so I think… let’s see what I can do!” Milton has always been famed for his love of colourful shirts. He tells us he gets rows of audience members dressing up in his “uniform” for stag nights. But that’s not the extent of his bizarre outfits this tour: “For the first half, I come on dressed as a giant Great Britain! I have a detachable Scottish head and my face comes out in a little hole in the Peak District.”
Scottish independence as well as Brexit, he tells us, will be themes he touches on in the show. For a comedian whose standup has never been overtly satirical, is this tour a change in approach for Milton? “No, not at all”, he assures us. “No one’s going to go to the show and say they’ve changed their political opinion. If the show makes a point at all, it’s that nonsense is a perfect thing to do in itself, rather than trying to make a point about something. Even though topical things are mentioned, I never preach or take them too seriously.”
He talks about his scattergun approach to comedy, telling 200-300 jokes; he’s from the same one-liner school as Gary Delaney or Tim Vine, which he admits isn’t always an easy medium to work in. “At the beginning of the tour, I can hardly remember it all. I put it in subject chunks, say, eight jokes about education. As long as you don’t get the junctions of thought confused and end up with a very short show, you should be alright.”
As someone who started off his performing career as an actor, he wanted to create a sillier version of himself for his onstage persona. “There are two types of comedian. There’s the one who’s the same onstage and offstage, then there’s the person like me, who sees their own character, turns up at work, puts on their uniform and does their work.”
Where does he want to see comedy go in future? He says he wants some students to cause a 70’s Python-style shake-up of the comic world. “Comedy is no longer alternative. With the censorship on television and politics being a cartoon of itself, it’s genuinely difficult to shock people. We need something different and something that is away from the mainstream. I don’t know what the shock would be. If I did know I’d be doing it myself!”
Until this new generation rises up though, can you really go wrong with a comedian who dresses up as Great Britain itself?
Milton Jones, Grand Theatre, Swansea, Wed 6 Dec and at Princess Royal Theatre, Port Talbot, Thurs 15 Feb. Tickets: £26.50/£28. Info: 01792 475715 / swansea.gov.uk / 01639 763214 / https://npttheatres.co.uk/princessroyal/