“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.”
Over the last 20 years Jones has established himself as the master of one-liners, the professor of puns and the king of the zingers.
His comedy alongside his wild hair and eccentric shirts has helped the 52-year- old stand-up stand out among the t-shirt and suit-wearing comics on ‘Mock the Week’, which Jones has been regularly appearing on since 2009.
But, in his new touring show – Milton Jones is Out There coming to Northampton later this year, we see Jonesquestioning the importance of his own nonsense in our increasingly divided times.
Milton said: “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.
“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 like no other despite sharing the same name. Was this deliberate?
He said: “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.
“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 escapism from normality. I don’t have to be responsible. I don’t have to pay car tax.”
He’s also well known for his disinctive outfit but it is something that was intentional?
Milton said: “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 it was a signpost to say where I was coming from: it was leftfield.”
He is best known for his appearances on Mock the Week and has just passed a milestone on the panel show.
Milton said: “I was on recently and I was the third oldest person there in terms of appearances. It felt quite odd. I think the BBC now uses Mock the Week to try people out, and it means there’s a whole new batch of people coming through, which is great. I feel like a senior statesman.”
Many comedians have spoken that the tone of the programme has changed.
Milton said: “The new lot all know each other, so I think it’s less competitive than it used to be. There’s more teamwork. It’s a more pleasant show to do.”
“You’re covering all the subjects in the news that haven’t got someone dying in them, so I go through my arsenal. A lot of people think it’s a satire show, but it’s not, it’s a joke show – which suits me.”
Indeed it was a joke that Milton performed on Mock the Week which has inspired the new show.
“Yes, about Boris Johnson. An idiot with stupid hair running the country? Bing! That’s where it started. I feel like I’m destined to play Boris Johnson at some point.”
Milton Jones Is Out There is coming to Northampton’s Royal & Derngate on Thursday November 2. The show starts at 8pm.
Tickets cost £27 and they are limited so people are advised to book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. They can be booked by calling the box office on 01604 624811 or visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.