Milton's Paradise Jones at the Brighton Comedy Festival

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Milton Jones is one show in which I can abandon my reviewers’ notebook and pen. Not just because it can be a barrier to simply sitting back and enjoying the top-drawer material, but what on earth can I write? He did an daft joke that seems silly, but is actually highly inventive. Then another. Then another. Then another.

For that’s all you get with this gifted one-line merchant. In Milton’s Paradise Jones, he’s tried to dress it up a bit for the sake of theatre, but it’s really just daft gags all the way.

Talking of dressing up, that’s how he starts. In cloth cap and reflective waistcoat (it’s for a joke, obviously), he appears as his grandfather – one of many, given that ‘my other grandfather…’ has become something of an unlikely catchphrase.

Not that it’s much of a character, just a way of delivering some typically leftfield punchlines in a slightly wobblier timbre, and an excuse to wheel on a tartan shopping trolley that contains some of Jones’s props.

Yes, prop comedy. In this day and age. But in these capable hands, a box of detergent becomes a beautiful visual pun with not a hint of the desperation that once did for the whole genre. That’s how good he is.

The ‘character’ is soon discarded, and Jones, in vivid orange floral shirt, continues to yomp through the wonderfully deranged gags. Many involve wordplay, of course, but they also play with ideas, the subtle twisting of meanings and intent ensuring these are rarely mere puns. As evidence, the beginning of his flipchart-based routine gets laughs without words at all.

Another set piece involves a phoney slide show of his supposed round-the-world trip, which imposes a structure of sorts on all the airport and geography jokes Jones has in his sizeable repertoire.

To add a touch of fluidity to the otherwise rigid gag-gag-gag pattern, Jones isn’t afraid to banter with the audience, either, using some of the standard ‘what’s your name/job?’ questions to springboard into gags. Yet he also sets up running jokes with ome punters to add an air of spontaneity to the night. The Brighton audience prove remarkably frisky, but he parries their spirited backchat with verve – which isn’t always the strong suit of master joke craftsmen like him. Precision-engineered one-liners and audience rapport is a rare, but deadly, combination.

A small handful of the more easily memorised jokes will no doubt be cracked around watercoolers the morning after any Milton Jones gig; but there are far more wonderful gags here than you could ever hope to remember, so just relax and admire the dedicated workmanship that’s gone into them.

Review date: 17 Oct 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Dome

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