Surreal funnyman Milton Jones says nonsense is a the centre of his new show which comes to Blackpool in the spring, writes Ben Williams.
“People have said to me, ‘On one level it’s quite clever, and on another level it’s not clever at all,’” he explains.
“I think that’s a compliment. 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.
Even Jones’s on stage appearance screams “absurd”: the wild hair, wide eyes and garish Hawaiian shirts.
Put those alongside his beautifully constructed pieces of wordplay, and it’s helped the 53-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 – we see Jones questioning the importance of his own nonsense in our increasingly divided times.
The blurb for the new show talks about Milton “running for prime minister” and having a ‘manifesto of nonsense’.
He 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.”
“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 has a distinct look but Milton says the image was accidental.
“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: leftfield.”
Regular appearances on Mock the Week have made Milton are familiar face to many viewers.
He 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 these days.
“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.
“Basically, 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.’
A joke he performed on Mock the Week’ was the inspiration for 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,” he explained.
Is there a particular formula to a Milton Jones joke?
“It’s about getting the joke down to the lowest form of words, the minimal effort. That’s what really adds beauty to it,” he said
· Milton Jones is Out There’ will be on at The Grand Theatre, Blackpool on March9 next year.