Monday 9 December 2013

Milton Jones, Union Chapel

On Saturday night I ventured northwards to Islington to have my sides split at Union Chapel. The comedy evening featured a range of comedians including headliner and one of my faves, Milton Jones.

I've been to Union Chapel before, and think it's an absolutely super venue. Previously I'd seen Sir Tom Jones performing his gospel album, for which the converted church was the perfect setting. Whatever you're seeing there, Union Chapel is intimate, relaxed and usually has reasonably priced tickets.

Whilst on the way up there on the bus, two tube lines shut down, meaning the streets, buses and roads were heaving. This unfortunately meant we arrived at the gig about 20 minutes late, and so we missed most of Joe Lycett. But from what I heard from the people around us, he'd had a very successful set, and I did like his last skit about loans and interest rates (Yeah, maybe that was a "had to be there" kind of joke...)

Union Chapel was packed out, so I was surprised to get such great seats; up at the back, but directly opposite the stage. The night was organized by The Invisible Dot, who had brought in comedian Charlie Baker as host. His boisterous and brash jokes certainly had us chuckling, not to mention the skilled musical interludes between him and the house band. They played and sang jazzed up versions of all the Christmas classics, but then again, Charlie’s rendition of “(Cock In The) Eye of the Tiger” would take some explaining!

After the first break came Colin Hoult, who you might know from Being Human or Life’s Too Short. He took us through the horror film “The Rite” and all the reasons we shouldn’t see it, and re-inacted when his family used a ouija board, only to find they were being haunted by a gorilla. His humour was dark and witty, but with some great family impressions thrown in.

I knew of Josie Long before my night at the Chapel (remember the careers advisor in Skins?) but it was great to see her do her stand-up. Having had a landmark birthday last year, her set focused around MSN’s online list of “What To Do Before Your Thirty”, intertwined with some great anecdotes. She’s brilliant with audience interaction, and confessed that her ideal gig would be a thousand specifically tailored jokes and a thousand single, big laughs. I’d love to see Josie perform again.

Then came the act we’d all been waiting for. Dressed in his signature white trainers, jeans and Hawaiian shirt, with bird’s nest hair and deer-in-the-headlights eyes, Milton Jones was everything we had hoped for. I love his play on words and his pace when joke telling, and it's a joy to follow him on Twitter. You’ll be convinced it’s going one way, and you’ve got him sussed, but then from out of the blue he hits you with a completely unexpected punch line.

“I did a gig in Ireland recently and at the end, they all threw shamrocks at me. Turned out, they were real rocks.”

You’re still laughing at the first joke when he’s telling you the fourth. Some were incredibly clever, and others just plain stupid, but I was enjoying them all the same. Most of the one-liners were new, though there were a couple of the classics, like :

“When I was young I had a condition which meant I had to eat soil three times a day. Good thing my older brother told me about it really.”

Like Josie, Milton is also great with a crowd.

Milton : “I was bullied at school…”
Audience : “Awwwwww”
Milton : “… by pirates. You’re not helping.”

Though he was only on stage for half an hour, we must have heard a hundred jokes. He sloped back off stage just like he’d sloped on, leaving us all mopping our eyes and trying to hide our embarrassing snorts.

Great comics, great gig, great venue. I can’t wait to return to Union Chapel in the New Year.

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