Comedy Review: Milton Jones - Royal Hall, Harrogate ✭✭✭

Milton Jones
Royal Hall, Harrogate

Review by James Eaglesfield

When it comes down to it, there are two types of comedian: the storyteller and the one liner. Milton Jones, who is best known for appearances on panel shows like Mock The Week (though to be fair this claim can be made by most UK based comedians), is a master of the latter. Audiences coming to his latest UK tour had better brace themselves for a packed pun-fest with little room to breathe.

Beginning the evening in the guise of his own Grand Father, which opens up a different rich vein of humour, Jones rattles off in his trademark style from the very start. His word play is extremely clever and he clearly sees the world in a very odd way, though I suspect over exposure to Christmas cracker jokes as a child may have had more than a slight influence.

The audience at a sold-out Harrogate Royal Hall were given brief pauses to keep up and laugh after each line but aside from that Jones maintained a punchy pace as he mixed his bizarre thoughts with some slightly-painful groaners and more clever humour in an extremely enjoyable performance.

Before Jones returned to the stage for the second half as his eccentric self, proceedings were given a change of pace with the more conversational style of Chris Martin. This was a much needed break as keeping up with Jones can be a little bit draining on the brain. Martin’s brand of observational comedy and anger towards very specific sections of society wasn’t particularly cutting edge but was highly entertaining and didn’t leave the audience feeling that he was simply filling in time until we got the headline act back on stage.

Following the interval, it was 100% Milton. With the concept of a sniper defying hot-cross bun suit and the use of an overhead projector, Jones rattled through quip after quip. And if you didn’t like one of his jokes? Not to worry, another one was just around the corner. In that respect there was definitely something for everyone, though you could potentially miss out on a fantastic line due to still contemplating the previous one.

Sadly though Jones was let down by his technical team. The levels from his mic were poor meaning that often words became incomprehensible, more so when he was performing as the mumbling pensioner at the top of the show. With a one-line comedian where every word counts this is a killer. Sound was generally an issue though as the timing for a gag that relied on a burst of music being played following a key comic line was embarrassingly slow and spoiled the entire effect.

In addition, Jones’ style doesn’t lend itself to the compulsory audience interaction. It’s not that he’s particularly bad at it, but it’s shoe-horned inclusion in the show seemed less than natural as it broke up the quick-fire flow rather than feeling seamlessly integrated.

Those troubles aside, if the laughter levels were anything to go by the audience had a great time and even I laughed out loud repeatedly which is a less than common occurrence. Whilst none of the humour requires rocket scientist levels of intelligence to grasp, an evening with Milton Jones does require you to listen and engage your brain. A novel experience for some.

One surprise though; during the entire evening there wasn’t a single swear word. Whilst I’m no prude, it made for a pleasant change. So for all pun fans, this is one show you can safely take the family to.

Three stars ✭✭✭

Milton Jones is on tour until 23 November 2013.