Comedian Milton Jones on his James Bond inspired show at Scarborough Spa

Forget James Bond, Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt – there’s a new spy in town. And he’s not dressed in a neat tuxedo or head-to-toe camouflage. He’s wearing a garish Hawaiian shirt.
Milton Jones plays Scarborough Spa on Tuesday November 8Milton Jones plays Scarborough Spa on Tuesday November 8
Milton Jones plays Scarborough Spa on Tuesday November 8

That’s right, Milton Jones – Mock the Week’s resident oddball, Radio 4 regular and king of the surreal one-liner – is back on tour, and this time he’s an international man of mystery.

The wild-haired joke-teller might not be the obvious choice for a secret agent, but in Milton: Impossible the 55-year-old comic will be taking his audience through an action-packed story via hundreds of his trademark, exquisitely-crafted pieces of wordplay.

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I caught up with the Live at the Apollo star ahead of his UK tour to check he’s had the proper training.

The new tour is called ‘Milton: Impossible’. What made you decide on the spy theme?

‘Basically, I came up with the title before the show! I thought: “That sounds good!” So I made a rod for my own back by theming it. But sometimes it’s easier to write to a theme than have a completely blank page.

"The show is based on “Mission: Impossible”, but “Mission: Impossible” has a huge budget and lots of special effects. My show is just me and some hats and about 250 jokes. It’s low-tech instead of high-tech.”

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So, like your last two tours – ‘Milton Jones is Out There’ and ‘The Temple of Daft’ – this show has a narrative element to it?

"If you’re going to do a show for over an hour you can’t just tell bits. That’s what I do on Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo, which is fine, but you want something with the veneer of satisfaction. This show’s got an interrogation scene, a car chase with a swivel chair, and I end up escaping on top of a Vince Cable Car. It’s as daft as ever

Your last tour played to more than 100,000 people, and you’ve appeared on Mock the Week more than 40 times. What’s more fun to do: a live show or a TV appearance?

“They’re both good in different ways. Going to small place on a Saturday night where they’re all determined to have a great laugh – I don’t think that can be beaten. With radio or television, you’re as good as the edit, and it’s out of your control. That may well work in your favour, or it may not. With Mock the Week, when I think I’ve done a bad show, I’ll watch it back and think, ‘oh, it was all right’, but when I think I’ve done a really good show I’ll watch it back and think, ‘oh, it was all right’. It all evens out.”

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How do you cater for different generations in the same audience?

“I am aware that if I make a reference to Instagram or something I’m going to lose everyone more than 50. But that’s fine because overall my references are quite general and even if you didn’t get it, the joke’s only going to last 20 seconds, so there’ll be something else along soon enough.”

You have another Radio 4 series in the works. What’s next after that?

“I don’t have anything else planned. But who knows what will turn up? Sometimes the unexpected things that come along are the most interesting – other quiz shows, a corporate event abroad – things you wouldn’t have predicted. Doing Celebrity Mastermind or something.”

What was your specialist subject on Celebrity Mastermind?

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Potatoes. I mean, if I’d have taken it seriously I’d have done something like Arsenal. I’m employed as a comedian. It’s entertainment. If I get to do it again I’ll choose carrots.”

Milton Jones is at Scarborough Spa on Tuesday November 8. Tickets:

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