Milton’s balancing act

Abigail SaltmarshStand-up comedian, writer, radio and TV performer and now author – it's all about keeping as many irons in the fire as possible, says Milton Jones.Abigail Saltmarsh

It's all a balancing act - but one that brings comedian Milton Jones great satisfaction. As the one-liner specialist heads to Norwich for a performance at the Playhouse he admits he is so busy these days that it's hard to imagine just how he has found time to tour.

'I think I have to be doing all these things at the same time - if I don't there are plenty of other comedians out there who will,' he says.

'I have to keep doing this because I never know how things will change in six months from now.

'Besides, I think I would also get bored if I was just doing the same thing all the time.'


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Milton, who is probably best known his award-winning radio shows, has just finished recording another Radio 4 series that will go out at the end of January.

His radio career began with three successful series of The Very World of Milton Jones, followed by The House of Milton Jones.

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He has now just made four episodes of Another Case of Milton Jones - his eighth radio series - to be broadcast at the end of January.

'It is hard work coming up with new stuff all the time,' he admits. 'Jokes do take a lot of writing, especially for a whole show or series.'

Milton's style is quirky and packed with one-liners. This unique technique has won him various awards and nominations over the years, starting in 1996 when he won the prestigious Perrier Newcomer gong at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

But it is a style that is unique in that it suits audiences of all ages - in fact, he frequently sees children seated in the auditorium during his shows.

'People of all ages come along because they have heard me on the radio,' he says. 'When I've performed at The Playhouse before or done the odd gig in Norwich with the Comedy Store, it is a very mixed audience, with kids and older people coming along too.

'In fact, when I look out I often think: 'My audience is made up of people who should be first into the life boat!''

He goes on: 'It's nice having children there though. I don't swear during my shows and quite often they will shout out a question or two.'

Milton has also been busy with his TV work, making appearances on popular shows such as Mock the Week.

Over the years, his small screen appearances have included Comedy Cuts (ITV2), Music Hall Meltdown (BBC4), 28 Acts (BBC3), The World Stands Up (Comedy Channel), The Comedy Store (Channel 5), Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment (Channel 5) and The Stand Up Show (BBC1).

He also performed twice last year on ITV's For One Night Only with Joan Rivers and Tom Jones.

'Mock the Week is the show that is the real bun fight. You do a two-and-a-half-hour recording for a half an hour show - so they effectively just show the highlights. It really is a challenge - a dog fight. I know a lot of the other comedians and they are really quiet people but then suddenly as soon as recording begins they are all talking over each other and trying to get in there with their jokes!'

Milton has also just launched his live DVD with Pozzitive Television called Milton Jones, The Universe Tour. Part One - Earth.

And his first novel, Where Do Comedians Go When They Die? has also just come out.

'It is about a comedian and the trips he makes. About a third of it is me, a third is other people and a third is made up to make the story work,' he says.

'It follows the arc of his career from when he starts out to the jaded Christmas performance he gives 10 years later.'

Set in the late 1990s/early 2000s, it considers the life of the comedian and comedy itself.

Now, in these gloomy times, stand-up comedy is more popular than it has ever been, Milton says.

People are looking for something simple to laugh at and it's interesting to think how performances might develop from here.

'Comedy is no longer 'alternative' so who knows what will happen next? Someone will probably break out with something new and the whole thing will start again,' he adds.

But for Milton himself, being a comedian in 2009 means juggling as many balls as possible and continuing to challenge himself.

'I started out as an actor and that is something I'd like to get back to as well, perhaps playing the odd character on telly,' he admits.

'But otherwise it is about doing all these different things that I am doing now - and just keeping on spinning all those plates at the same time.'

Milton Jones is appearing at the Norwich Playhouse on Tuesday, November 17, at 8pm. The show is sold out, but to inquire about any possible returns call 01603 598598 or visit www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk

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