Clocking up the miles is vitalpart of becoming a stand-up

COMEDY is a serious business, says comedian and Mock The Week regular Milton Jones – a business where you’ve simply got to put in the miles.

Wednesday, 24th November 2010, 10:03 am

“Originally you start charging up and down the M1 for not much money, and gradually you think you will cut down on travelling but you never do”

And it’s not like you get to see the places, says Milton who heads to Chichester Festival Theatre for Belly Laughs Live on Friday, November 12 alongside Jo Caulfield.

“It’s like you go to Manchester for two hours and then you come straight back again,” Milton says. “In terms of the hours you do, it’s like you are a paid driver. You judge the week on the number of miles you have done.

“Ideally you arrive in a place a bit early and find out something funny about the local area, but in reality you arrive ten minutes before and you just rush on stage and say ‘Hello Oxford!’ when you are actually in Cambridge. In between it is miles and miles of driving.”

But it’s not just part of the job; it’s crucial to it: “It’s all about hours clocked up on stage.

“There is no way around it. You can think you are being really funny, but the only way to find out how funny it is is to get on stage in front of a live audience. It’s like learning to play an instrument except that you have to do all your practising in public!

“You’ve got to put in those hours to develop your own voice (as a comedian). There will be the opportunity for a fair amount of failure along the way.

“It takes a long time. I tried to be an actor originally, and then just started trying to do stand-up. It was not until I stuck my hair up and put on a silly shirt that I got better at it.”

It’s about finding that voice and also, to an extent, your comedy character: “Some acts are more characterful than others, like The Pub Landlord. But really it’s about a combination of being someone and not being someone on stage. I don’t think anybody is ever completely themselves on stage. You just become a cartoon version of a part of yourself.”

“And with time, you will change – or perhaps tone down some of the early stuff:

“People now know where I am coming from. When I started I used to have to weird it up a bit, but now people realise that I am coming from that direction!”

Tickets on 01243 781312.