Monday, 9 March 2015

INTERVIEW - Milton Jones

SHARING the same surname as fictional film hero Indiana Jones has given comic Milton Jones the inspiration for his latest tour.
The 50-year-old, famed for his attention-grabbing shirts, wild hair and one-liners has become a household name and a regular on TV, most notably with the BBC panel show Mock The Week and on Radio 4 with several of his own series.
But in a career that has spanned more than 20 years it's fitting that he's back doing what he loves best - stand up.
His latest offering is The Temple of Daft, a semi homage to a certain Indiana Jones.
As part of the nationwide tour he is coming to the Broadway Theatre in Catford on Wednesday March 11 and the Fairfield Halls in Croydon the following night.
But if his fans are expecting an evening purely of his hilarious and often surreal quips they may be disappointed.
This show, which he describes as a mix of “panto, music, imagery and comedy” will be different as he will introduce an element of storytelling in which the audience follows the madcap exploits of a less than successful archaeologist.
It is uncharted territory for Milton but one which he says he has enjoyed exploring.
"Basically, my previous shows have just been lots of jokes in various different forms," he says. "This is a bit like one of my radio shows in that it has a story to it. I've never done it for a tour before!
"It loosely – and I stress loosely – follows a kind of archaeological adventure in which I search for treasure. It started off with me realising that I had the same surname as Indiana Jones, and I began constructing the show from there."
It will also be a chance for the father of three to show off his acting skills - a career he left before he stumbled into stand up.
"There are plenty of characters who re-occur throughout the show and I play them all so it’s more physical and I run about the stage more than I normally do," he says.
"I started as an actor so it's not completely abhorrent but the physicality of not having a mic between me and the audience is weird."
But if the style of the show is slightly different his fans can rest assured there will be some familiar elements to it including music, his use of overhead projectors, his bright shirts and of course the hilarious gags.
“I do dress up - I wear a hat like Indiana Jones – and I wear the shirts although the sleeves are torn off,” he chuckles. “I have them round my shins like garters which is a fashion statement in itself.
"I've had to buy back up costumes though - in Liverpool one man tried to walk off with my hat.... I got it back though.”
Milton admits the different approach meant it was a "harder" show to write but says he's pleased with the result.
"I had to get a director in to help me who took me out of my comfort zone," he says.
"This is the third tour I’ve done in five years and it’s been pretty labour intensive. It was also harder to write and I’ve been looking down the back of the sofas in my brain for jokes.
“It also took me a little longer to settle in to it but it's a better show - it's got more of a satisfying feel with a beginning, middle and end, rather than a scatter gun approach.
"But I think it's good to be pushed to do something different. It keeps things fresh and interesting.
"Besides, just doing one liners you would see blood coming out of peoples’ eyes after 20 minutes ....” he chuckles.
“I’m really pleased with the result though and so far so good."
With as many as 250 jokes to remember in a show Milton admits that sometimes some slip his mind and some get waylaid by heckles.
“It’s not nasty when I get heckled – which does happen – and more often than not it’s just someone who’s a bit drunk and hasn’t quite judged the situation or realised they are speaking out loud,” he says.
“I actually quite like the interaction and try and get them to undermine themselves – even saying ‘pardon’ can undermine them,” he chuckles.
“Even if things go wrong – such as sound cues going off in the wrong place - I try and make a joke out of it and incorporate it into the show as it makes it more fun.
“I don’t have a crib sheet so I have to learn everything and there have been moments when I’ve left bits out by mistake. As long as they aren’t the plot bits it’s OK!”
What he doesn’t do is swear, something that sets him apart from his some of his peers.
“To begin with it was harder to get a style that didn’t involve swearing,” he adds. “I’m a Christian and didn’t want to blaspheme but I also didn’t want my show to be one you couldn’t bring the kids to.
“It was hard to begin with but it has widened my audience base. So when I'm in Croydon and Catford I'll look out and see everyone from a 10 year old boy to his grandmother – which is great!”

Milton Jones and the Temple of Daft is at the Broadway Theatre, Catford on Wednesday, March 11 and at Fairfield Halls, Croydon on Thursday, March 12. Visit or for tickets.

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