Milton Jones interview

He's the king of the surreal one-liner who's been lighting up Mock The Week since Frankie's departure. We spoke to Milton Jones about gag-pies, jumpers and new material.

Milton Jones

You're on a big tour at the minute – are you seeing your usual crowd full of "the people who should be first onto the lifeboats" or have times changed now?

It's a real mixture. Students who watch Mock the Week, Radio 4 listeners and children staying up past their bedtime. I like the fact that whole families can come together. It makes it like going to the panto, or to court.

There was a time when your Oxfam jumpers made you look (deliberately) like an oddball but in fact you've become a hipster's fashion icon – do you think your loud shirts will follow suit and become a student favourite?

The idea was always that even if they didn't remember my name at least they would remember what I was wearing. I would be delighted if students would wear shirts like mine. But not if it puts the prices up. Remember it's all new material.

We hear you once had a run-in with Clarkson during a gig – any plans to avenge yourself by challenging the big man to a race-off on the Top Gear track?

Yes I would like to challenge him to a duel. I would be in a 4x4. And he wouldn't have a car at all.

You once said 'the thicker the crowd, the higher the hair' – are you a bit worried that all your TV exposure might have the unfortunate side effect of turning on an idiot magnet?

We are all idiots if you think about it long enough. I just feel sorry for the ones who don't know it yet.

Life on the road obviously has its high points, but have you started to feel the pinch of criss-crossing the country and talking to people who (hopefully) won't talk back?

I'm enjoying it. I would be gigging anyway so I would still be traveling. Its just all the other comics I miss. I'm a bit behind on circuit gossip as a result. The audiences are not as nasty but that doesn't mean they keep quiet. Some of my longest conversations of the last few months have been from the stage.

As you've mentioned before, the life of a comic's not like that of a musician – no one wants a greatest jokes tour. You've not made your life easier by being a one-liner merchant who's a regular on TV and radio. Is it ever a struggle for material?

It means I've had to write more. But the incentive is bigger. I might even be getting better at doing it. So far I have been plundering my back catalogue, but it will catch up with me in the end. Then you'll be sorry.

Talking of material, you've commented that some people, who we won't name, are more like karaoke machines or jukeboxes than comedians. Have you suffered badly from gag-pies?

Many times, and one liner guys are more at risk than others. Still worse things happen in the world. Doesn't feel like it at the time though.

There's a lot of competition in comedy - you've said most comics only laugh at each other if a gag goes wrong. Why can't you all just be slumber-party attending friends, eh?

It's not a nasty thing. Its sheer empathy. I think we take equal joy in seeing a fellow comic get out of difficult situation brilliantly. When we watch each other we're all thinking 'what would I do there?'

You've got lots more telly work lined up we hear – what are you most excited about in the coming months?

I've written a pilot of a sitcom with Dan Evans which Channel Four are making in the autumn. This will stretch me in a different direction. I'm very keen not to fall over.

Thanks, we'll let you go...

Milton Jones is on tour - for dates and ticket information visit miltonjones.com

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