He is a clever man this Milton Jones. His show at the Grand isn’t your run of the mill stand up. Instead, Milton gives us a surreal jaunt through his blustering and brilliantly sharp imagination as he takes on the subject of exploration and adventure. He is best known for trouncing the opposition on TV panel shows like Mock The Week and all those dreadful ‘banter’ shows on Dave etc. I hate banter comedy but know and love Jones from his many radio shows so was eager to see what he had to offer on stage.
On he wandered as his own great grandfather Digby Jones, the explorer and world traveller, hidden by a beard and weighed under by a backpack the size of a small hatchback car. He blasted us with a dizzying stream of travel-based one liners before the backpack was opened and he did a fifteen minute comedy set completely based around flags of the world. This is a comedian at the height of his powers we were witnessing, at home and totally at ease with material that a lesser comedian would die on their comedy backsides with. It was a joy to watch; colour me impressed.
Jones then left the stage and support act Chris Stokes took over. It was always going to be an uphill struggle to follow the main act, who had the audience in the palm of his hands, and Stokes has his work cut out for him. After a shaky start of fairly standard material, his youthful looks, his divorce etc., he found his feet with his exploration of being a smart-arse geek. The audience jumped on board and he thundered through the last third of his act with all the swagger and smarts of a comedian twice his age and years ahead of his current experience. We were won over and he left to thunderous applause, well deserved.
Milton Jones reappeared for the second half and we were faced with a giant screen and a tiny pirate wigwam, what could it mean? What he had in store for us was, frankly, a tour de force of razor sharp machine gun frequency one liners which, through his masterful steerage, we suddenly realised was, in fact, part of a rip roaring adventure tale that took us from a mundane train journey, all the way to the South Seas via the tiny pirate wigwam and a surreal slideshow of childlike drawings of broccoli-headed dinner ladies wielding many a kitchen utensil.
His fertile imagination peopled this adventure tale with dozens of characters, each with a head full of more of Jones’s signature one liners. The one liners came so thick and fast we were left breathless as he threw quality comedy gold out at us with the casual abandon of a man who knew he didn’t need to horde his gags. Seriously, there was enough material to fill three other stand ups’ entire acts in just fifteen minutes of Jones on stage. It was marvellous to watch and the audience lapped it up.
After his tale was told, and he left the stage, the audience shouted him back for an improvised encore and he once again battered our ears with jokes until we laughed ourselves hoarse.
All in all, it was a brilliant evening of highest rate comedy by a man who inhabits that odd place of simultaneously being a storyteller and joke-smith in equal measure.
If you get the chance to see this odd but brilliant man take it! (And a note book, as he told us, and was totally right, we would not remember any of the jokes in the morning.)
Milton Jones continues his national tour and is appearing on TV and radio throughout the rest of the year. Catch him if you can.
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