By Noel Kelso
Milton Jones is a celebrated UK television and radio comedian probably best known to Australian audiences for his regular appearances on topical quiz show Mock The Week where his clever and surreal one-liners prove even more entertaining than his blazingly bright Hawaiian shirts. He has won numerous awards for his comedy including Time Out’s ‘Best Newcomer ‘ and Chortle Magazine’s ‘Best Headliner’ awards and is author of a partly biographical novel Where Do Comedians Go When They Die?: Journeys of a Stand-Up.
As he makes his Australian debut at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Squirrel caught up with him for a few questions.
Noel: As this is your first time performing solo in Australia, many people here will only be familiar with your material through seeing you on ‘Mock The
Noel: How would you describe your live show to those unfamiliar with it and convince them to come and see it?
Milton: Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Clever in places. But mainly stupid.
Noel: What inspired you to first get started in comedy?
Milton: I wanted to be an actor, but no-one else wanted me to be one. So Idecided to try and pull faces for a living.
Noel: Your BBC Radio 4 show ‘Thanks A Lot, Milton Jones’ derives much of the humour from everyday situations gone awry when your character becomes involved. Do you have the same ‘can do’ attitude in real life?
Milton: I used to, until there was a petition from my family and local residents.
Noel: Has performing comedy always been something which appealed to you or were you originally intending to follow a different career path?
Milton: As I say I wanted to be an actor. All other doors were closed to me on the grounds of incompetence.
Noel: Which comedians – past of present – do you admire?
Milton: Rowan Atkinson. Emo Philips. My many Grandfathers.
Noel: Your comedy style comes across as that of someone who is perplexed by the way the world works and you just want answers – however odd and surreal they might be. Do you have a similarly questioning character off-stage?
Milton: Listen this is pretty much the same question as question 3 isn’t it? (see I a have questioning character)
Noel: Also – your performance style appears less confrontational than many of your contemporaries. Was that a conscious decision or is it something which arose naturally from your personality?
Milton: Oh shut up you pig.
Noel: Returning to your appearances on ‘Mock The Week’ – do you enjoy the competitive nature of that style of comedy and do you feel it gives that extra push to inspire more innovative comedy?
Milton: I would prefer it if I had 3 minutes to answer all the questions on MTW on my own, then I could go home and not have to compete with the others. Then at least I could always get a word in.
Noel: How do you find the writing process for your live shows differs from that used when writing a radio series – if at all?
Milton: Well when I’m writing radio I can use sound effects and read it off a script because the audience at home can’t see me – heh heh. But when I’m doing a live show I can pull faces.
Noel: You are known for wearing bright shirts when performing. Are these purely an affectation for the stage or do you actively seek out these fashion items? (I myself have quite a collection of hideous shirts which I wear with pride)
Milton: It’s a signpost to go with my stupid character. Id don’t know what your excuse is.
Milton Jones is appearing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 27 to April 20 at The Supper Room, Melbourne Town Hall