Ha!Milton is not a musical, says tone-deaf comedian Milton Jones as he launches tour show. York, Sheffield and Ilkley await

Shirt alert: Which bright idea will Milton Jones try out next on tour?

MILTON Jones, the shock-haired master of the one-liner, has been toying with using his latest tour title for a while.

Cue Ha!Milton, heading for the Grand Opera House, York, on September 7 on his September 3 to December 15 itinerary. “To be honest, people have been encouraging me to use my name in a title for a long time. This one’s been around for seven/eight years,” he says.

“This is not a musical,” he clarifies, wanting to “make it clear that it’s not a spoof of Hamilton”, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s multi award-winning Broadway and West End hit. “I am tone deaf and have no sense of rhythm, but at least I don’t make a song and dance about it.”

In his “whole new show of daftness”, the 59-year-old Kew comedian from BBC Radio 4 solo series and TV panel shows has “more important things to discuss.  “Like giraffes…and there’s a bit about tomatoes,” he says.  

Giraffes and tomatoes, Milton? “You know what it’s like. You don’t want to be painted into corner when you’re asked for a title and some details a year ahead of a tour without making a rod for your back,” he says.

“I have 200 new jokes, but if it has a story, it’s about my life being tone deaf, starting with a Nativity play, with me playing Angel A and everyone else calling me ‘Angela’.

“I’m also including an AI machine, something called an ‘overhead projector’! It’s nice when you uncover it and you release observational gizmo nostalgia.”

Whereas music fans want bands to play the old hits, comedy audiences demand fresh material. “People want similar, but not the same jokes, and as long as you can provide that, that’s OK,” says Milton.

“To some degree I’m fortunate because I travel at such speed in my shows that people don’t always remember the jokes, but for my own sanity I don’t want to go dead behind the eyes by sticking to the same lines throughout the tour.

“Apparently, I go around the house muttering words, constantly looking at words and images and turning them upside down and then coming up with new things. In fact, soon I’ll be going out for a jog because physical exercise is one of the few things that turns my brain off by putting my body under stress.”

The poster for Milton Jones’s Ha!Milton tour, bound for York Barbican on September 7

Putting a show together, built around quickfire gags and puns, is “not just a case of whether a joke is good or bad, but of how you package it so they don’t see it coming,” says Milton.

“What I like doing is putting something in someone’s head, where they think of one punchline but then it veers off into another one.”

What’s more, Milton does not merely rattle off pun after pun. “You have to try to pace the show overall because, after 15 minutes, people can’t take more of the same,” he says.

“So you have to change the angle of attack, whether it’s with the overhead projector, or with a narrative story or a cartoon, to pace the show and find ways to keep it fresh. That’s why you do work-in-progress shows to do that.

“What you don’t want is for the audience to be ahead of you, so you have to keep making the formula different for the next joke.”

Milton tours regularly and favours long itineraries when doing so. Why? “Possibly because I enjoy it! That’s rather a basic answer, but one of things about Covid, when all of us were at home, we were thinking, ‘how are we going to get out of it, if we are going to get out it?’, and I really missed touring,” he says.

“It takes so long to put together a tour that I might as well do as many dates as possible before doing another one.”

What happens when a new idea pops into that punning cranium? “I can hold about three things in my head, and if I think of something and don’t write it down, normally I’ll run into it again,” he says.

“You think you have brilliant ideas in the night, but then when you look at them in the cold light of day, often they’re not so good. Or sometimes you have a bad idea but you improvise something from it, and you wouldn’t have got to that point without coming up with the first thought. The point is to try something out so at least you’re one step up the ladder to something working.”

Come September 7, let’s see what has become of Milton’s first thoughts on discussing giraffes and tomatoes…

Milton Jones: Ha!Milton, Grand Opera House, York, September 77.30pmBox office: atgtickets.com/york. Also Sheffield City Hall, December 4, sheffieldcityhall.co.uk; King’s Hall, Ilkley, December 8, bradford-theatres.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond from March 9 onwards. Hutch plays his cards for List No. 11 for 2024, from The Press

2023 Strictly champ Ellie Leach’s Miss Scarlett, front right, with her fellow colourful characters in the new whodunit comedy Cluedo 2, on tour at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Alastair Muir

A WHODUNIT comedy, mischievous theatre as a team game, a wicked return, cocktail-bar tales, political satire and one-liners and a very muddy pig are Charles Hutchinson’s clues to the best upcoming shows.

Whodunit, with what and where, of the week: Cluedo 2, York Theatre Royal, March 12 to 16, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

STRICTLY Come Dancing 2023 champion and Coronation Street star Ellie Leach is making her stage acting debut as Miss Scarlett in the world premiere British tour of Cluedo 2, marking the 75th anniversary of the Hasbro boardgame. Next stop, York.

This follow-up to the original play (based on Jonathan Lynn’s 1985 film Clue) is an original comedy whodunit, set in the Swinging Sixties, with a script by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran (Birds Of A Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart and Dreamboats And Petticoats) and direction by Mark Bell (Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong). Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Ash Hunter’s Macbeth and Jessica Baglow’s Lady Macbeth in Amy Leach’s revival of Macbeth at Leeds Playhouse. Picture: Kirsten McTernan

Something wicked this way comes…again: Macbeth, Leeds Playhouse, until March 23

AMY Leach reactivates her 2022 Leeds Playhouse production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth with a wickedly good cast, now led by Ash Hunter, who returns to Yorkshire after his terrific Heathcliff in Emma Rice’s Wuthering Heights at York Theatre Royal.

“Macbeth investigates the nature of belief, love, ambition and desire, asking us to root for two humans who drive each other to do utterly terrible things,” says Leach. Box office: 0113 213 7700 or leedsplayhouse.org.uk.   

Let the games begin: Gemma Curry, left, Claire Morley and Becky Lennon in Hoglets Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Mischief at York Theatre Royal Studio

Shakespeare shake-up of the week: Hoglets Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Mischief, York Theatre Royal Studio, March 9, 10.30am

EVERYTHING is kicking off as the fairies in the forest start a fight, but which side will you be on? Team Titania or Team Oberon? York company Hoglets Theatre presents an interactive, fun, larger-than-life production for young children, based on Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Expect wild characters, raucous singalong songs, puppets, stunts and some frankly ridiculous disco dancing from director/writer Gemma Curry and fellow cast members Claire Morley and Becky Lennon. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Comedian Matt Green: “Trying to make sense of the world”. Picture: Karla Gowlett

Political satire of the week: Matt Green: That Guy, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, March 10, 8pm

THE debut national tour by That Guy (@mattgreencomedy) is a stand-up show full of jokes both political and non-political after he achieved millions of views for his online satirical videos launched in lockdown.

Green is touring his first show “since the madness of Covid/Johnson/Truss/Lord-knows-what-else began”, trying to make sense of the world in another year of elections and culture wars. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Jake Bugg: Playing our city on his Your Town Tour

Singer-songwriter of the week: Jake Bugg, Your Town Tour 2024, York Barbican, Tuesday, doors 7pm

ON his 15-date tour, Nottingham singer-songwriter Jake Bugg is performing two sets per night, first acoustic, then electric, as he rattles through his biggest hits, plus songs from 2021’s top three-charting Saturday Night Sunday Morning.

Two nights earlier, founder member Graham Gouldman leads art pop and soft rock innovators 10cc on their Ultimate Ultimate Greatest Hits Tour 2024 at 7.30pm. Ticket availability is limited. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Peppa Pig’s Fun Day Out: Songs, muddy puddles and snorts at the Grand Opera House

Children’s show of the week: Peppa Pig’s Fun Day Out, Grand Opera House, York, Wednesday, 1pm and 4pm, and Thursday, 10am and 1pm

PEPPA Pig is joined by her family and friends as they head to the zoo and the beach for a special party, with the promise of a fun-packed day. Prepare to sing with colourful scarecrows, feed the penguins, build big sandcastles and even swim in the sea in a show packed with songs, dancing, muddy puddles, giggles and snorts. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Facing the shift from hell in the worst bar in town: Sophie Bullivant, Abi Carter, Holly Smith and Laura Castle in Rowntree Players’ Shakers

Comedy play of the week: Rowntree Players in Shakers, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, March 14 to 16, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

WELCOME to Shakers, the worst bar in town where everyone wants to be seen. Carol, Adele, Niki and Mel face the shift from hell. The lights are neon, the music is loud, and shoes must be smart. No trainers.

Jane Thornton and John Godber’s 1984 comedy exposes the sticky-floored world behind the bar on a busy Saturday night. Here come the girls, the lads, the yuppies and the luvvies, all played by Sophie Bullivant, Laura Castle, Abi Carter and Holly Smith under the direction of Jamie McKeller, who worked previously with Bullivant and Castle on Godber’s Teechers in 2023. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Rebecca Vaughan in Dyad Productions’ Austen’s Women: Lady Susan, scheming at Theatre@41 for two days

Solo show of the week: Dyad Productions in Austen’s Women: Lady Susan, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, March 15, 7.30pm and March 16, 2.30pm

FROM the creators of I, Elizabeth, Female Gothic, Christmas Gothic and A Room Of One’s Own comes a new Austen’s Women show, based on Jane Austen’s first full-length work from 1794, performed by Rebecca Vaughan.

Created entirely from letters, this one features the devil-may-care Lady Susan, the coquettish, scheming black widow, hunting down not one, but two, fortunes. Then add oppressed, rebellious daughter Frederica; long-suffering sister-in-law Catherine; family matriarch Mrs De Courcy and insouciant best friend Alicia in this darkly comic tale of Georgian society and the women trapped within it. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Shock in shirts: Comedian Milton Jones will be displaying his sartorial eloquence in his Ha!Milton tour show

Gig announcement of the week: Milton Jones, Ha!Milton, Grand Opera House, York, September 7; Sheffield, City Hall, December 4; King’s Hall, Ilkley, December 8

MILTON Jones, the shock-haired master of the one-liner, will take his 2024 tour, Ha!Milton, on the road from September 3 to December 15. “This is not a musical,” says Jones, in a nod to the title.

“I am tone deaf and have no sense of rhythm, but at least I don’t make a song and dance about it. This is a whole new show of daftness. You know it makes sense.” Topics will include giraffes…“and there’s a bit about tomatoes”. Box office: miltonjones.com; York, atgtickets.com/york; Sheffield, sheffieldcityhall.co.uk; Ilkley, bradford-theatres.co.uk.

In Focus: Navigators Art & Performance, GUNA: Views and Voices of Women, City Screen Picturehouse, York

Collaborative banner by Navigators Art workshop group, including first-time artist
s, for York International Women’s Week 2024

YORK collective Navigators Art & Performance presents GUNA: Views and Voices of Women, at City Screen Picturehouse, Coney Street, York, from March 10 to April 5.

Run in association with York International Women’s Week 2024, this exhibition explores and celebrates the creativity of women and non-binary artists.

On show in the cafe and the upstairs gallery is an array of paintings, textiles, collages, photographs and more by 20 emerging and established York makers, curated by York artist Katie Lewis.

Navigators Art & Performance’s poster for GUNA: Views and Voices of Women

“Women have used textiles as an art form to tell their stories and express views for centuries,” says Katie. “Many of the artists are using recycled fabrics that give further meaning to their work.”

The official launch night event on March 11 offers the chance to meet the artists over a complimentary drink from 6pm.  All are welcome, with no need to book; more details at  https://www.facebook.com/events/6804352783003925

The exhibition is free to enter every day during cinema hours. City Screen is fully accessible.

Suffragette City, by Katie Lewis

NAVIGATORS Art & Performance will co-host GUNA: An Evening of Music, Spoken Word, Performance Art and Comedy to complement the exhibition and further celebrate the creativity of women and non-binary artists in The Basement at City Screen on March 23 from 7pm to 10.45pm.

GUNA is a version of the ancient Greek word for ‘woman’, leading to a line-up of
poets Danae, Olivia Mulligan and Rose Drew; performance artist Carrieanne Vivianette; global songs and percussion from Soundsphere; original music from Suzy Bradley; comedy from Aimee Moon; and a rousing appearance by the multi-faceted singer, author and artist Heather Findlay.

“The venue is small and our shows often sell out, so book soon,” advises Navigators’ organiser, Richard Kitchen. Full details and TicketSource booking are available at https://bit.ly/nav-guna

REVIEW: Live At The Theatre Royal Comedy Night, York Theatre Royal, July 1

Ed Byrne: Unexpected cameo…on the phone

ED Byrne did appear at the debut Live At Theatre Royal Comedy Night after all. On late substitute Milton Jones’s mobile phone in an impromptu exchange where Jones had the last word, over and over, setting up Ed for his genial jibes like Federer putting away a backhand passing shot.

“Byrne out” had struck this gig when the whimsical Irishman’s own phone had pinged him with the message of our times: “You Need To Self-Isolate” , until 23.59pm on July 7.

Byrne was indeed at home, doing passing-the-time things, by way of contrast with this fast-moving, no-interval comedy bill, kept on its toes in brisk fashion by host Arthur Smith, who was largely in rather jollier mood than his usual lugubrious, Grumpy Old Man schtick, as casual as his summer shorts.

So, here was the alternative Smith and Jones show, plus Rhys James in his first gig since times BC (before Covid) and Maisie Adam, the Pannal humorist familiar from panel shows, still defiantly sporting her half-shaven lockdown hair.

Maisie Adam; Hair-larious set back in God’s Own Country

James, looking impossibly boyish as he hits 30 this year, is from the time-honoured school of cheeky chappy comedy, full of wry observations and a winning line in self-deprecation, not least over sharing a name – albeit spelt differently – with England’s full back Reece James. He found his feet back on the comedy turf rather better than his namesake in his Euro 2020 debut against Scotland.

Maisie Adam, enthusiastic football player in a Brighton women’s team and fabulous storyteller, was loving being back home in Pannal, visiting Ripon and taking the train across the Knaresborough viaduct.

Like James, she was adjusting to a return to audience interaction after a surfeit of streamed gigs into the silent digital ether, an experience much like howling into the wind, and how she relished the sound of laughter, so vital to a comic’s timing and rhythm. Such delightful, sometimes daft, often astute company, the fearless, forthright Maisie is on the unstoppable rise, you better Adam and Eve it.

In the absence – save for that surprise phone cameo – of ‘edliner Ed Byrne, comedy paradise was found in Milton, the joker with a quip in every soundbite, a pun-slinger always one step ahead of the audience guessing games.

Milton Jones: Late substitute struck comedy gold

Hair wilder than Doddy, Hawaiian shirt as over-excitable as a teenager’s first holiday away from the parental grip, Jones had a hit rate of word-play gags so consistent, so precise, it was the equivalent of reducing a dartboard to only the bullseye and still never missing.

Behind the deadpan delivery, his abundant sense of mischief, gift for mimicry, smart political sensibility and unerring radar for what’s funny without the need for offence, all wrapped inside his endless joy in a one-liner, were such welcome light relief after so many months of darkness.

In Damian Cruden’s two decades of artistic directorship, comedy nights were strangely absent from the York Theatre Royal calendar, but chief executive Tom Bird is now taking a different tack, and you can surely expect more bills to follow the lead of the Smith and Jones show.

More Things To Do in and around York as ‘Byrne out’ strikes tonight’s comedy gig. List No. 39, courtesy of The Press, York

Shock of the new: Milton Jones looks startled at the prospect of replacing Ed Byrne at short notice for tonight’s comedy bill at York Theatre Royal

AWAY from all that football, Charles Hutchinson finds plenty of cause for cheer beyond chasing an inflated pig’s bladder, from a late-change comedy bill to Ayckbourn on film, York artists to a park bench premiere.

Late substitution of the week: Byrne out, Jones in, for Live At The Theatre Royal comedy night, York Theatre Royal, tonight, 7.30pm

ED Byrne will not top the Live At The Theatre Royal comedy bill tonight after all. “We are sorry to announce that due to circumstances beyond our control, Ed is now unable to appear,” says the official statement.

The whimsical Irish comedian subsequently has tweeted his “You Need To Self-Isolate” notification, running until 23.59pm on July 7.

Well equipped to take over at short notice is the quip-witted pun-slinger Milton Jones, joining Rhys James, Maisie Adam and host Arthur Smith. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Naomi Petersen and Bill Champion in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Girl Next Door at the SJT and now on film too. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“Film of the week”: Alan Ayckburn’s The Girl Next Door, from Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until Sunday

THE SJT’s film of Alan Ayckbourn’s latest premiere, The Girl Next Door, is available on the Scarborough theatre’s website, sjt.uk.com.

Directed by Ayckbourn, his 85th play can be seen on stage in The Round until Saturday and now in a filmed recording in front of a live audience until midnight on Sunday.

One day in 2020 lockdown, veteran actor Rob spots a stranger hanging out the washing in the adjoining garden, but his neighbours have not been around for months. Who is the mysterious girl next door? And why is she wearing 1940s’ clothing?

Ray of sunshine: Edwin Ray as Tick/Mitzi in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert at Leeds Grand Theatre. Picture: Darren Bell

Musical of the week ahead: Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, Leeds Grand Theatre, July 6 to 10

PRISCILLA Queen Of The Desert returns to Leeds for seven socially distanced performances in a new production produced by Mark Goucher and, for the first time, Jason Donovan, star of the original West End show and two UK tours.

Loaded up with glorious costumes, fabulous feathers and dance-floor classics, three friends hop aboard a battered old bus bound for Alice Springs to put on the show of a lifetime.

Miles Western plays Bernadette, Nick Hayes, Adam/Felicia and Edwin Ray, Tick/Mitzi, in this heart-warming story of self-discovery, sassiness and acceptance. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or at leedsgrandtheatre.com.

Solo show: Polymath Phil Grainger puts his songwriting in the spotlight in his Clive concert in Stillington

Gig of the week outside York: Clive, alias Phil Grainger, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

CLIVE is the solo music project of Easingwold singer, songwriter, musician, sound engineer, magician, actor, Gobbledigook Theatre director and event promoter Phil Grainger.

As the voice and the soul behind Orpheus, Eurydice and The Gods The Gods The Gods, Clive finds the globe-trotting Grainger back home, turning his hand to a song-writing project marked by soaring vocal and soulful musicianship. Expect a magical evening wending through new work and old classics in two sets, one acoustic, the other electric. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/512182.

Emily Hansen’s Pilgrim 14 as Mary Magdalene in a rehearsal for A Resurrection For York at Dean’s Park. Picture: John Saunders

Open-air theatre event of the weekend: A Resurrection For York, Residents Garden, Minster Library, Dean’s Park, York, Saturday and Sunday, 11am, 2pm, 4pm

THE wagons are in place for A Resurrection For York, presented by York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust, York Festival Trust and York Minster.

Philip Parr, artistic director of Parrabbola, directs a community cast in an hour-long outdoor performance, scripted by Parr and 2018 York Mystery Plays director Tom Straszewski from the York Mystery Plays cycle of the crucifixion and the events that followed. Tickets are on sale at ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/york/residents-garden-deans-park/a-resurrection-for-york/.

Autonomous, by Sharon McDonagh, from the Momentum Summer Show at Blossom Street Gallery, York

Exhibition of the week and beyond: Momentum Summer Show, Westside Artists, Blossom Street Gallery, by Micklegate Bar, York, until September 26

YORK art group Westside Artists, a coterie of artists from the city’s Holgate and West areas, are exhibiting paintings, portraits, photomontage, photography, metalwork, textiles, ceramics and mixed-media art at Blossom Street Gallery.

Taking part are Adele Karmazyn; Carolyn Coles; Donna Maria Taylor; Ealish Wilson; Fran Brammer; Jane Dignum; Jill Tattersall; Kate Akrill and Lucy McElroy. So too are Lucie Wake; Marc Godfrey-Murphy; Mark Druery; Michelle Hughes; Rich Rhodes; Robin Grover-Jaques, Sharon McDonagh and Simon Palmour.

The Park Keeper director Matt Aston, left, actor Sean McKenzie and writer Mike Kenny at Rowntree Park, York. Picture: Northedge Photography

Theatre premiere of the week ahead: Park Bench Theatre in The Park Keeper, The Friends’ Garden, Rowntree Park, York, July 7 to 17 (except July 11)

AFTER last summer’s trilogy of solo shows, Matt Aston’s Park Bench Theatre return to Rowntree Park with Olivier Award-winning York writer Mike Kenny’s new monologue to mark the park’s centenary.

Performed by Sean McKenzie, The Park Keeper is set in York in the summer of 1945, when Rowntree Park’s first, and so far only, park keeper, ‘Parky’ Bell, is about to retire. That can mean only one thing, a speech, but what can he say? How can he close this chapter on his life? Will he be able to lock the gates to his kingdom one last time? Box office: 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or via parkbenchtheatre.com.

Andy Fairweather Low: Booked into Pocklington Arts Centre for next February

Gig announcement of the week outside York: Andy Fairweather Low, Pocklington Arts Centre, February 11 2022

ANDY Fairweather Low, the veteran Welsh guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and producer, will return to Pocklington next February.

Founder and cornerstone of Sixties’ hitmakers Amen Corner and later part of Eric Clapton and Roger Waters’ bands, Cardiff-born Fairweather Low, 72, will perform with The Low Riders: drummer Paul Beavis, bassist Dave Bronze and saxophonist Nick Pentelow. Box office: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Jane McDonald: Lighting up York Barbican in July 2022 rather than July 4 this summer

Rearranged gig announcement of the week in York: Jane McDonald, York Barbican, July 22 2022

WAKEFIELD cabaret singer and television personality Jane McDonald’s Let The Light In show is on the move to next summer.

For so long booked in as the chance to “Get The Lights Back On” at York Barbican on July 4, the Government’s postponement of “Freedom Day” from June 21 to July 19 at the earliest has enforced the date change for a show first booked in for 2020. Tickets remain valid; box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Ed Byrne out, Milton Jones in, as York Theatre Royal makes late line-up change

Byrne out: “Unable to appear due to circumstances beyond the Theatre Royal’s control”

OFF with his ‘Edliner! Comedian Ed Byrne will not top the Live At The Theatre Royal comedy bill in York on Thursday after all.

“We are sorry to announce that due to circumstances beyond our control, Ed Byrne is now unable to appear,” says the York Theatre Royal .

No Byrne’s night in York, but well equipped to take over at short notice is quip-witted pun-slinger Milton Jones.

Shock of the new: Milton Jones looks startled by his late call-up for the Live At The Theatre Royal comedy night

The shock-haired, excitable-shirted absurdist with the quiver of arrow-sharp one-liners will be joined by Rhys James and Maisie Adam, introduced by lugubrious host Arthur Smith. 

“If you have already booked your tickets, you do not need to do anything and we look forward to seeing you on Thursday,” says the box office. “If you need to contact us about your booking, please email boxoffice@yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or call 01904 623568 between 12 noon and 3pm. Our team will be happy to answer any questions and help in any way they can.”

To check ticket availability, go to yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

REVIEW: Anything’s possible in a one-liner when Milton Jones spies a gag

Hair-raising: Milton Jones on a spying mission at York Barbican

REVIEW: Milton Jones: Milton Impossible, York Barbican, February 22

THE whole point of camouflage is not to be spotted, but in his new guise as an ex-MI5 spy, Milton Jones’s gaudy military fatigues looked like they hadn’t slept for days.

As for his fuchsia, frilly dress shirt, it would have guaranteed he had absolutely no fuchsia in spying, if blending into the background were a requirement. Definitely a case of Milton Impossible.

Mind you, Jones’s attire was not the only sartorial talking point of Saturday’s triple bill. Support act Tom Houghton was gently settling into revelations of being the Honourable Tom – now that his ex-Army chief father, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, was a Lord and the Constable of the Tower of London – when he was distracted by a Technicolor nightmare of a shirt making an even louder exit down the stairs.

“You’ve missed nothing,” said Houghton, lobbing a comedy bomb after the escapee. “Except fashion”. Boom, off went the bomb, as if he were sentencing him to the Tower for a fashion crime.

Cheeky, charming, posh-boy fledgling comic Houghton went on to define the rules of rugby – a game of backs and forwards and going backwards and forwards – with a wit that outwitted the well-worn tea towel trying to explain the laws of cricket.

Tom, a hawk: Tom Houghton was quick to spot fashion crimes in the York Barbican audience

“I always love to help underprivileged children,” said Jones drily later, but Houghton, one quarter of the improv comedy troupe The Noise Next Door, needs no leg-up through entitlement. Check out his upcoming tour at The Basement, City Screen, York, on June 12 or The Carriageworks, Leeds, the next night.  

Before Hon Tom, Milton’s waspish “grandfather” had opened the show, entering with a trampoline as his mobility aide, and combining a flat cap with a dressing gown for a dressing down on the real meaning of assorted familiar road signs.

If you could imagine a hopelessly ill-prepared learner driver trying to wing his written test with wild guesswork, Milton’s grandad goes even further. Rather than being merely daft or surrealist, however, the new meanings actually make weird sense, and the world would be a happier place if they were true.

Although, in this city of cycling, cyclists might not have enjoyed his dig at them not recognising the meaning of a red light.

Post-interval, Jones returned, his shock of hair madder than ever at 55, to go with the aforementioned psychedelic dress code. Seventy-five minutes of the matador of piercing one-liners ensued, ostensibly on his spying past, but ranging far and wide, his timing deadly, his manner deadpan. (Ideal qualities for a spy, you might say).

From his last tour, the Kew comedian revived his droll Brexit commentary through the novel format of national flags engaging in sparring conversations, each seeking the last word, and no Jones show would be complete without a run of “my other grandfather” gags.

Before the tour, Jones joked: “At a difficult time for our country, I believe there’s a chance this show could unite the nation. Admittedly quite a small chance.” True, but Milton is comedy paradise found, and you wish more could see the world through his eyes. It is a lovely place to be, warmly knowing but not devoid of a child’s sense of wonder, playful, not cynical, absurd yet spot on.

If you missed Milton Impossible in York, your next mission, and you really should accept it, is to make it to Hull City Hall on March 18 or Leeds Town Hall the next night, 19.30 on the dot. Box office: hulltheatres.co.uk; leedstownhall.co.uk.

Charles Hutchinson