REVIEW: Milton Jones – Waterfront Hall, Belfast

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You may not be familiar with the name Milton Jones, but if you’ve watched enough TV comedy panel shows you will certainly recognise his wide eyes, bright shirts and mad hair. He is one of the great one-liner comedians around.

The thing that always worries me about going to see a famous comedian, especially one with such a regular TV presence as Milton Jones, is the niggling thought that all you will hear is the same material that you have heard on TV already. I understand that this is unavoidable at times, a comedian can’t come up with new jokes for every show, but as his is a brand new tour, my hopes were high.

I was not disappointed.

The first of the two support acts comes in the form of Milton’s “Great Uncle Randolph Digby Jones,” a famous worldwide explorer.  It is interesting to see a comedian who is primarily known for his quips and one-liners to do something like character comedy. I use the phrase character comedy loosely, a balaclava and a fake beard being the height of the character. With a thoroughly amusing set about flag & country humour, featuring him pulling out a Union Jack, followed by quickly saying “always a bit of a risk,” we knew that we were in good hands for the evening.

Following on from this was Nish Kumar. Nish, based in London but whose family comes from India, spent most of his set discussing his bad experiences of being from such a multi-cultural family, and the ups and downs of his ethnicity. I felt that his political jokes may have been a little more based for the mainland leg of the tour, as here in Northern Ireland, if politics go beyond Stormont then a lot of people don’t really care. It did feel like he was using a race to get the most laughs of his set. I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing this, but in the comedy circuit at the moment, it feels a little overused and that it’s mostly been heard before. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t well received, and he received a hearty round of applause at the close of his set.

After a short interval, the lights went down and it was time for the main man. It was refreshing as the show went on that there was a story, of sorts, featuring a woman called Amber, exploding tortoises and a seductive dinner lady made entirely of food. Making sense? Good, it’s not supposed to.  With quick, smart jokes, asking the audience for subjects to joke about, and a daring escape from Teacher Paradise, the paradise being a school with no children, Milton keeps the audience in the palm of his hand, moving from his pirate wigwam to the overhead projector (yes, an overhead projector) he keeps the story going, while keeping the jokes coming. It’s clear that Milton has done some research on our wee country, with the biggest laugh of the night coming after the joke of a women travelling on a train to Larne, quickly followed by the question why.

You realise the absurdity of Milton’s sense of comedy when he points out the fact that at one stage the whole audience was applauding two imaginary rabbits as they walk off stage. All in all, Milton is a very funny and intelligent comedian, knowing what works and what makes us laugh, even at times if what that is, is the sheer ridiculousness of the whole show. Craig McCullough, GiggingNI.com