Radio 4 listeners will be familiar with Milton Jones’ surrealist sense of humour and endless stream of one-liners. Your cultural correspondent was curious as to whether his particular style of comedy would work in an extended format – he need not have worried, as he could barely stop laughing for the whole show. Milton Jones edges sideways on the stage dressed as Great Britain, in order to give Brexit and Scottish Independence a wry sideways glance – geddit? Support act Chris Stokes offered up twenty minutes of amiable comedy to an already contented audience, with stories of everyday life – from his Black Country childhood, to the breakup of his marriage, from injured pigeons to dog walkers. Stokes is an ideal comedian to put in front of Jones’s audience – very different to Jones but likeable, inoffensive and funny.
The second half of the show is a well-crafted hour plus of comedy from Jones. Scattered props and some slides on a big screen create a space in which Jones can run around. A birdhouse houses an old dial phone. A wheelie bin filled with many large flags, which Jones uses for a bit of business about nations speaking to each other. Built entirely around one-liners, there is always a punchline but it is never going to be the one you expect, and that is why Jones excels. Behind his demeanour of a very silly man is a brain that can connect words and notions in a unique way. There were times in the act where Jones makes a point of pausing so that half the people in the room can catch up with his wit.
Jones breaks up the show with some improvisation, asking the audience to come up with subjects for him to deliver lines on. Coming up with a strong, hour long set and memorizing its material is very impressive. Being able to come up with clever one-lines on the spot is remarkable. Dealing with a persistent heckler was equally impressive. The random heckles, followed by a giggled ‘I’m sorry’ from one audience member, provided a good ten minutes more material. The persistence of these interruptions was beginning to grate but Jones handled this all with ease and grace.
On the way home after the show, your correspondent tried to remember any of the brilliant one-liners and could not – testimony to his ability to combine trickery with language with a weird juxtaposition of ideas that are unlikely to ever occur to anyone else.