Tickle Your Funny Jones With Milton
Milton Jones – he of anime-style hair, dodgy shirts and indomitable pun-slinging, is doing a funny at Sheffield City Hall this February as part of the ‘On The Road’ tour…
The Mr Miyagi of one-liners, Milton secured a Perrier Best Newcomer in 1996 and was named Chortle’s ‘Headliner of the Year’ in 2011. Fuelled by a nervous, neurotic stage personae, Milton wants all cat owners to know their houses stink. And students, their houses stink too. But he also details the ups and downs of time-travel so, taken with a pinch of salt and a little imagination, Milton's 'On The Road' might be THE quick-fire comedy extravaganza.
Milton Jones, the lord of all oddballs, who's had his mug well into Mock The Week, Live At The Apollo and Dave’s One Night Stand recently, is also the madcap rambler responsible for a slew of Radio 4 shows (Another Case Of Milton Jones, The Very World Of Milton Jones), a highly implausible autobiography ‘Where Do Comedians Go When They Die?’ and a Channel 4 pilot called ‘The House Of Rooms’, which went out last January.
We posed Mr. Jones a few Qs to try and untangle a background even messier than his hair…
What kind of a family do you come from?
My Dad was a physicist and my Mum was a housewife. I had a nice suburban upbringing, went to a good school and mixed with normal people. Obviously my only worry growing up was that if I ever wanted to become a comedian I would have nothing to be really angry about.
Did you make people laugh at school?
Maybe behind my back, but I was always quite a quiet kid and kept myself to myself – probably the sort who often eventually gets hold of a gun and takes hostages. Fortunately I discovered acting instead.
So you wanted to be an actor?
Yes, but no-one else wanted me to – well I didn’t have much work at the time. But the thing about stand-up is that if you have the bottle you can get up and do it if you want. So I gave it a try. My first few attempts weren’t great but I was arrogant enough to keep going. When it began to work I noticed that unlike acting, you didn’t have to rehearse or share the laughs with anyone else. But also unlike acting if it went wrong there was no-one else to blame.
So how did you end up doing one-liners?
I’ve always had a short concentration span. I think I appeal to other people who have short concentration spans. (Not that they will have read this far.) I think if a one-liner succeeds you put a tiny but entertaining cartoon in peoples’ heads.
What’s it like being on Mock the Week?
It’s a bit like doing a comedy exam in public. The hardest part is to get a word in when other people are talking. But next series I will be distracting people with my lucky klaxon.
Where do you get your shirts?
Retro shops usually. If people don’t remember my name at least they remember the shirt. Actually people have started turning up to my shows wearing that type of shirt now. They shouldn’t do it, they don’t understand what they’re messing with!
You’ve been around a while now – how has the comedy scene changed during your career?
Stand-up is much bigger now, but also less risky and inventive than it used to be. When I started there was an act called the Iceman who brought a giant block of ice on stage and melted it with a blowtorch while shouting weak puns about ice. Okay, he’d be unlikely to sell out the O2 Arena but the circuit has lost some of its tin-pot charm. Also all the reality competitions mean audiences often see things in terms of ‘who won?’ rather than just enjoying the variety of a show.
What’s the best or the worst heckle you’ve ever had?
Once when I was on stage someone shouted ‘What is this?’. It was a philosophical heckle really. I didn’t know what to reply. It was too big a question for me to answer. In a way I’d like to have ended the show then and there. But we all carried on like idiots.
Any plans for the future?
After On the Road I would like to do more TV acting, have my own TV show and maybe be in a film. Then I would like to own a castle, a small city and so on until eventually I have an empire that stretches from West London to the outskirts of China. But to be honest it’s more likely to be the same round of radio, TV panel games and odd visits to arts centres.
If you like your gags sharp and off their rocking horse, you can book tickets to see Milton Jones at the City Hall here, and check out Milton’s website here for the latest news.