Broadway Theatre Catford 25th October 2013
Although expecting a full dose of Milton Jones, the show started with Milton pretending to be his own grandpa, scootering on stage to deliver some one-liners. It was funny, because the jokes were funny, but the character seemed a bit unnecessary, and did not add anything to performance. It may have been a conduit for the (very loose) flow of his jokes – remembering so many one-liners must be exceedingly difficult, so to have some kind of narrative, however flimsy, may help memorise the set.
Chris Martin was the support act. He is part of a prolific and plentiful generation of stand up comedians that is undermining the spectacular efforts of the alternative comedian movement by offering tepid and mundane observational comedy. Michael Macintyre’s sets consist of observations that are prima facie uninteresting, but his delivery and the extent to which he seems to be enjoying himself on stage add a great deal, so the jokes are very difficult not to laugh at. Chris Martin (and Russell Howard and Russell Kane and Jason Manford and Jack Whitehall and Sarah Millican and so on ad, unfortunately, infinitum) write a lot of material but it has no depth. It is barely observational and it is easy to watch, hardly making the brain do any work at all – perfect stuff for a tired professional couple who are staying in on a Saturday night and Strictly’s finished. It’s almost as if these comedians are tailoring their material to these boring Saturday night stand up shows that pay them so much money.
Martin was still doing jokes about the horsemeat story. The ‘scandal’ was funny at the time, very funny in fact, and Twitter exhaustively documented every single possible permutation of every joke that could be made about it. There were some funny punchlines, but the set as a whole was strained and a bit slow. The set’s structure was clunky, joke wedged with joke and a forced link to glue it all together, ‘speaking of animals…’ ‘but seriously, British people are so…’ etc. A well-tailored suit is one on which the seams are barely visible; same for a good comedy set. We do not want to have our attention unintentionally drawn to the awkward segues; it deadens the comic effect.
Milton himself was excellent. The set-ups seem conventional (“If you’d said to someone 60 years ago that you could have 3d television…”) but it is impossible to tell where the joke is heading (“…they would have said ‘That’s cheap’”).
He delivered his jokes with a fairly consistent deadpan attitude, which made it even harder to guess where the punchline was headed, and he covered such a wide range that it is quite an effort (in a good way) to listen to this barrage of one-liners. Occasionally he interacted with the audience in an oddly (and unconvincingly) aggressive way, but he was quick-witted enough to make the exchanges entertaining. Milton Jones offers a unique brand of comedy, even compared to other one-liner comedians, and his set was well-written and, importantly, very funny.
- Will You Join Milton Jones in the Afterlife? (the-ripple.co.uk)
- Milton Jones: On the Road (belindamaude.wordpress.com)