Milton Jones is a classic example of silly humour that makes you smile against your better judgement. With wild hair and even wilder shirts, Jones has practically become an honorary board member of Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo. Milton is now about to embark on his new tour ‘Milton Jones is out there’, so we asked what we can expect from his latest comic endeavour…
For those who have never seen your stand-up, how would you describe your humour?
‘People have said to me, “On one level it’s quite clever, and on another level it’s not clever at all,”’ says Milton Jones, analysing his own comedy. ‘I think that’s a compliment,’ he laughs. ‘I’m not sure. You could take it either way.’
The blurb for the new show talks about you ‘running for prime minister’ and having a ‘manifesto of nonsense’. What can you tell us about the show?
‘As well as me doing loads of trademark jokes and little sketchy pieces, the show sees me thinking: with all that’s going on in the world, maybe I should be doing something more serious rather than talking nonsense. I seem to have a crisis of confidence in terms of: is nonsense of any value? And of course that results in more nonsense rather than less.’
Is it difficult to mould a show in that way – to include a message and a narrative – via lots of one-liners?
‘Yes, it is. I end up with a massive bag of jokes which probably don’t fit, which is really annoying.’
Is the show very political in terms of opinions or content?
‘Not really. It’s all fairly jokey. There is one pseudo-political joke, which is as near as I get. With my stuff, people remember the joke rather than the point. Though my aim with the tour is to add in a couple of moments of pathos, really questioning whether I’m on the right track.’
The on stage Milton is a persona, which adds another filter for any opinions. He’s a character, but he still has your name, and you don’t specifically say he’s a character. Is that deliberate?
‘No! I think if I was starting again I would give him a name. He evolved as I tried out things – he was working so I stuck with it. But there are levels to him. I can pull things back and talk about my real life, to some degree.’
What are the key differences between the persona and the real Milton Jones?
‘I think most comics are accentuated versions of themselves, to some degree. I am, apparently, quite clumsy and I don’t approach things particularly rationally. I quite often see the other side of things. The differences are, hopefully, I’m not socially obtuse! I’m quite conventional – I’m married, I have three kids, a house… – so it’s almost an escape from normality. I don’t have to be responsible. I don’t have to pay car tax.’
The on stage Milton has a distinct look: the hair and the shirts. Is it important for him to be visually distinctive?
‘I didn’t set out to do it, but it’s been useful “branding”. If you don’t remember the name you go, “Oh that guy with the shirts and the hair.” Originally the whole idea was that it was a signpost to say where I was coming from: it was leftfield.’
How easy is it to find the right kind of shirt?
‘It’s quite hard. It can’t be “whacky” in a stag night way. It needs to be more, just “…no”. There has to just be a bit too much brown in it or something.’
Is there a particular formula to a Milton Jones joke?
‘I was never good at maths, but there is a mathematics to it. It’s like balancing equations. There’s an ideal format, and yes it can work the other way round, but it’s not quite as elegant. It’s about getting the joke down to the lowest form of words, the minimal effort. That’s what really adds beauty to it.’
‘Milton Jones is Out There’ is touring now. Tickets available at www.miltonjones.com.