Milton Jones – The Wordsmith

The king of the one-liner talks bad shirts, Mock the Week and his new show, Temple of Daft

My new tour The Temple of Daft loosely, follows a kind of adventure-archaeology type story. When people see you on telly, they want to see the same sort of thing when they see a live show, but obviously not the same jokes. Moving to a narrative was a way of keeping the same style.

Im amassing jokes from the moment my last tour beings, and then once it finishes, I begin to go to little out of the way places to test them. Generally speaking, the further you travel, the more pleased they are to see you. I’ll go with bits of paper and ideas, and it will be throwing mud against a wall and seeing what sticks.

Once youve got a show thats up and running, its more a physical battle. I try and see as many people around the country as I can, friends and relatives. Because there’s nothing worse than talking to hundreds of people, and then being the last person out of the car park, go to a hotel, and then the next time you talk to someone properly is when you talk to hundreds of people the next night. That’s a recipe for madness.

The new show will have between 200 and 250 jokes in, but that doesn’t mean that’s all I’ve written; I’ve written another 100 that I’ve put in the bin, at least another 100, probably, maybe three times as much, and that’s the hard work. But, I wouldn’t have got to that place had I not tried the first one.

On Mock the Week, I sit in the one-liner chair, and if its not me, its Stewart Francis or Gary Delaney – you know, its the odd bloke, so that has gone in my favour. I’m sort of grateful for where it’s got me, but if I go for an audition for another show, albeit a sitcom or something, it’s quite often as the crazy neighbour. You think well, I’m glad I’ve got this audition, but it’d be nice not to have to do that role forever.

Doing Mock the Week is a bit like doing an exam in that we actually get some stuff beforehand, but the list is so long that basically it’s every story that happened in the news that didn’t involve someone dying over the last week. So, there is no way I can cover all of it. You just hope, like an exam, that the bit you’ve revised comes up, because it records for nearly three hours for a half hour show. You hope that the 10 minutes you zoned out for isn’t the 10 minutes that appears on television.

I usually buy my shirts retro shops. It’s tricky with shirts because people think, ‘Oh zany shirt!’ but actually the zaniest of shirts is too much. What I like are shirts that people go, ‘Oh that looks… hang on, is that good or bad?’ It needs to be quite subtle, in a way, and I’ve got 100s of them. But yes, they are usually from Oxfam or retro shops where the old lady says, ‘Oh, that looks just you, that does,’ and they’ve no idea who I am.

Milton Jones comes to Birmingham Symphony Hall on June 5 for his brand new show Temple of Daft. For tickets visit

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