Milton Jones: Caught in a rabbit's headlights
Milton Jones is Britain's undisputed champion of punning. For the past few years, his club sets have consisted of nothing but proper, stand-alone, solid gags, one after the next. Would this approach be able to sustain a whole show for over an hour and a half?
The answer is yes. The calibre of these one-liners is such that one could happily listen to another hour of them. Appearing dressed in a giant pantomime hat, a boiler suit and giant foam hands, he wins the audience over instantly. His wide child-like grin and his approach to stand up, which can best be described as silly, mean that he is immediately likeable – it soon becomes obvious that nobody is going to be the butt of any jokes.
His jokes aren't edgy or cynical - they all are based on wordplay, some of it very surreal indeed. That isn't to say that his material needs to be more edgy, far from it Jones's show is a massive achievement, he has done the impossible – an hour and a half of one liners. The relentless stream of gags is punctuated by some short and rather bizarre sections in which he reads from a diary about his trip to the middle ages or about a sea voyage where the captain of a his ship is a moth, but the jokes in these short sections are essentially still based on intelligent puns and wordplay.
Of course, some jokes are better than others, but at the joke-rate Jones is working at, he crams more great punch lines into a minute than any other comedian working today. If a joke doesn't go down well or illicits a groan rather than laughs, he simply hits the audience with three great jokes in thirty seconds. Any jokes that fall on dead air are quickly buried without trace and expelled from the audience's memory.
Jones only let himself down with his attempts at interacting with the audience. Primarily, these were superfluous and were a strange deviation from a style of stand up that is far from the chatty style of many stand ups. It seemed as if he was only doing it because it is expected in a comedy club, as if he wanted to prove his stand up mettle and show that there is more to Milton Jones than outstanding well crafted one liners but perhaps there isn't and their needn't be. These were definitely the weakest parts of the show and nobody could have criticised him had he stuck to his set.
If you have seen Milton live in the past three years or if you have listened to his radio show, many of the jokes will be familiar. For some comics this would be a problem, but these jokes merit a second listen and familiarity doesn't dampen the enjoyment at all. Some may disparage him for his lack of new material but it is refreshing to see a comedian who has spent a number of years carefully honing his work and delivering it with such aplomb.
Milton Jones: Caught In A Rabbit's Headlights @ the Glee Club, Cardiff, 8 November 2007
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