Milton’s in paradise

Image by Karla Gowlett
Image by Karla Gowlett
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Blame it on being in the comedy business for more than 15 years and notching up more than 130 dates on his current Lion Whisperer tour but Milton Jones isn’t sure whether he has been to Blackpool before.

“I get the idea that I have been but I don’t think that I actually have,” he says. “I know there’s a lot of work going on isn’t there? But I think I’ve just read about it – and seen pictures of The Tower.”

He blames it the side effect of touring.

“You get to see a lot of dark rooms and after a short while they all begin to look alike so you can’t quite remember where you are and what you’ve seen.”

Not that he’s complaining.

“It’s a lucky job because when you reach a certain fame you get to see places like Australia, China, Dubai and other countries much loved by expatriates who want to bring in comedians from the old country,” he says. “I’ve been invited to New Zealand and again to Australia next year and it’s just too far to get back from after the gig so I’ll get the chance to sight see. In this country I could tell you more about the motorway service stations than the actual towns.”

As for how he started out he reckons it was because “messing things up at school gets you more attention than doing them properly” but says he was actually more interested in becoming a comedy actor.

“Being a comedian wasn’t a viable job proposition in those days,” he says. “Now it’s blossomed – it’s mainstream television on a Saturday night rather than being consigned to a tiny comedy club somewhere. You can even do a degree in stand up comedy.”

But although being more interested in the likes of Leonard Rossiter and Ronnie Barker he turned to comedy proper.

“Not getting any acting work was a clue to my future,” he says. “Most actors sit around waiting for the phone to ring and I couldn’t afford to do that.”

So he took to the circuit to gain experience, get a thick skin and hone his own style of act.

“Learning stand up is like learning to play an instrument except you are actually doing it in front of a live audience,” he says. “You learn on your feet and you learn what it’s like to fail. A lot of funny people give up because of that and a lot of not so funny ones stick at it because they’ve got thicker skin.”

His own style is witty and punchy one liners which are accessible to all ages and are delivered in a seemingly effortless style.

But each joke can take a day to hone into shape.

“I’ll get an idea and play around with it but it can take a day to come up with 10 seconds of finished material so you can imagine how long it takes to compile a whole routine,” he says.

Although people clearly recognise him off stage he admits he’s not the kind of comic who insists on being funny all the time.

“I suppose with me it’s a bit like going to the office,” he says. “It’s my job but in a way I’ve become the actor I always wanted to be. The Milton Jones you see on stage is partly a fictional creation. I’m not like that at home.”

n Milton Jones is at the Grand Theatre with Lion Whisperer on Sunday night. Tickets from the box office (01253 74339) or click on www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or visit the Grand Theatre information sales point in the Houndshill Shopping Centre.