Ahead of his gig here next week, the zany comedian tells Andrew Johnston why he's been taking inspiration from a movie legend for his latest show.
One-liner specialist and Mock the Week favourite Milton Jones is embarking on a new quest - concept punnery. The 250-jokes-per-night comedian's latest tour, Milton Jones and the Temple of Daft - which visits Belfast next week - eschews his regular milieu to string the quips together into a storyline. As the title suggests, it has been inspired by Indiana Jones, the style of whom Milton adopts in the show.
"This is about my great-uncle, Sir Randolph Digby Jones," the 50-year-old funnyman explains. "He's an explorer. Basically, previous tours have been lots of jokes in different forms. This is more like one of my Radio 4 shows. It loosely - and I say loosely - follows a kind of adventure-archaeology type story. It started off with me noticing that I had the same surname as Indiana Jones, and it has gone from there."
Milton even dons the movie action hero's trademark headgear. "I do wear a hat at one point," he chuckles, "but not for the whole thing, because people would never see my hair."
The London-born comic enjoys gigging in Belfast. Indeed, he enjoys gigging anywhere audiences appreciate his singular style. "Generally speaking, the further you travel, the more pleased people are to see you," Milton says, even if being far from home has its downsides.
"There's nothing worse than talking to hundreds of people, then being the last person out of the car park, going to a hotel, and then the next time you talk to someone properly is when you talk to hundreds of people the next night," he grumbles. "That's a recipe for madness."
Some might say madness is Milton's stock-in-trade, and he does admit that his maverick approach has seen him become somewhat pigeonholed. "On Mock the Week, I sit in the one-liner chair," he says, "and if it's not me, it's Stewart Francis or Gary Delaney - you know, it's the 'odd' bloke. I'm sort of grateful for where it's got me, but if I go for an audition for another show, 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. So, I suppose Temple of Daft is me trying to move things on."
On the subject of Mock the Week, Milton says the programme is as challenging to put together as it is fun to watch. "The way it's set up, it's always seven people trying to get through a door for two," he sighs. "I can't tell you how many times I've had a joke that would have fitted, and I just couldn't get a word in. But I suppose from an outsider's point of view, that's where the dramatic tension is, because you've got all these people trying to get a word in. It kind of makes for absorbing viewing."
And for those people who complain that it's all scripted, Milton insists it's not quite as cynical as that: "We do get some stuff beforehand, but the list is so long that it's every story that happened in the news that didn't involve someone dying over the last week."
Still, Milton feels equally at home with live performances, where his zany wordplay and outlandish appearance have seen him carve out a unique niche on the stand-up circuit.
"I did used to use wax," he notes of his wild hairstyle, "but under lights, that's not so good - it wilts. So, now I use something called Backcomb Dust, which is far drier and keeps your hair higher. I usually say, 'The higher the hair, the thicker the crowd'. Hopefully, in Belfast, I won't have to have it too high!"