People have said to me, ‘On one level it’s quite clever, and on another level it’s not clever at all,’” says Milton Jones, analysing his own comedy.
“I think that’s a compliment,” he laughs. “I’m not sure. You could take it either way.”
During the past 20 years Jones has established himself as the master of one-liners. Nonsense has always played a crucial role in his streams of non-sequiturs.
Even his on-stage appearance screams ‘absurd’: The wild hair, wide eyes and garish Hawaiian shirts, which help the 53-year-old stand-up stand out among the T-shirt and suit-wearing comics on Mock The Week, which Jones has been on since 2009.
But, in his latest tour Milton Jones Is Out There - at the Grand Theatre, Friday, March 9 - he questions the importance of his own nonsense in our increasingly divided times.
Could we see an end to the silliness and pun-foolery?
Answer: absolutely not, he assures us.
“As well as me doing loads of trademark jokes and little sketchy pieces, the show sees me thinking: With all that’s going on in the world, maybe I should be doing something more serious rather than talking nonsense,” he said.
“I seem to have a crisis of confidence in terms of: Is nonsense of any value? And of course that results in more nonsense rather than less.’
In the show, he talks about becoming the Prime Minister, but promises fans it’s not a show full of political opinions or content.
“It’s all fairly jokey,” he said. “There is one pseudo-political joke, which is as near as I get.
“With my stuff, people remember the joke rather than the point.
“Though my aim with the tour is to add in a couple of moments of pathos, really questioning whether I’m on the right track.”
The on-stage Milton is a persona, adding an extra filter for any opinions - yet while they share a name, Milton doesn’t state that his stage alter ego is a character.
Is that deliberate?
“No,” he assures. “I think if I was starting again I would give him a name.
“He evolved as I tried out things - he was working so I stuck with it. But there are levels to him.
“I can pull things back and talk about my real life, to some degree.
“I think most comics are accentuated versions of themselves, to some degree. I am, apparently, quite clumsy and I don’t approach things particularly rationally.
“I quite often see the other side of things.
“The differences are, hopefully, I’m not socially obtuse!
“I’m quite conventional - I’m married, I have three kids, a house… - so it’s almost an escape from normality. I don’t have to be responsible. I don’t have to pay car tax.”