Milton Jones, the king of the one-liner and a Mock the Week regular, is back.
His new tour, The Temple of Daft, will take him to some of the country’s best-known venues, but, in comedy terms, he’s embarking on uncharted territory.
That’s because joke machine Milton, the man who can cram in up to 250 gags a night, is now a joke machine with a purpose.
His new tour strings the quips together into a broader story, one that sees Jones take on the mantle of Indiana Jones, don the hat and set off on a madcap journey in to surrealist comedy. We caught up with Milton to talk about big hair, bad shirts, Mock the Week and his new direction, ahead of his visit to Royal & Derngate in Northampton on Thursday, April 23.
Your new tour is called The Temple of Daft. Why?
Previous tours have been lots of jokes in different forms, but basically lots of jokes. This is more of a story, more like one of my radio shows. It loosely, and I say loosely, follows a kind of adventure-archaeology type story. It started off with me noticing that I had the same surname as Indiana Jones, and it has all transpired from there.
Do you wear a hat? Do you have a whip?
I do wear a hat at one point, not for the whole thing, ‘cause then people would never see my hair.
You talk about using a narrative style, and you say this is a bit of a departure. What brought that on?
Two things. When people see you on telly, they want to come and see the same sort of thing when they see a live show, but obviously not the same jokes. Moving to a narrative was a way of keeping the same style. It begins to mine other areas of jokes as well, in terms of if you can do a scene where you’re talking between two people; even though I’m the only person there. That’s a different sort of writing than just one-liner after one-liner.
How do you prepare for a tour?
Anything that I have written during this tour will go in to the next tour. I’m amassing jokes from the moment my last tour begins, and then once it finishes, I begin to go to little out-of-the-way places to test them. Generally speaking, the further you travel, the more pleased they are to see you. Eventually I’ll accrue enough material to do try-outs nearer home. Years ago I started as an actor, and I’d quite like to incorporate more of it. For instance, previously the footprint of the tour has been I’ve gone on and done 15 minutes as a character, and then there’s a support act, and then I do the whole second half. There’s a different character this tour. Previously, I’ve done my granddad, but this will be a different relative.
Your schedule is preposterous. How do you remain sane?
Well, it is difficult, and there are some weeks, or months, when you’re away from home quite a lot, and maybe it’s the winter and maybe you’re up north and it’s quite grim all round… But it’s actually harder to write a tour, creatively, you know, that’s where the brainache is. Once you’ve got a show that’s up and running, it’s more a physical battle. I try to see as many people around the country as I can, friends and relatives. Because there’s nothing worse than talking to hundreds of people, and then being the last person out of the car park, go to a hotel, and then the next time you talk to someone properly is when you talk to hundreds of people the next night. That’s a recipe for madness.
A lot of your comedy is quite word based, can you just come up with it?
No. It’s all about writing as much as you can, and then taking the top 10%. There’s lots of stuff I’ve discarded. The new show will have between 200 and 250 jokes, probably, but that doesn’t mean that’s all I’ve written; I’ve written another 100 that I’ve put in the bin, at least, maybe three times as much.