Having dozens of the best stand-ups on stage in one venue is great news for comedy fans and, let’s face it, it is an attractive proposition for the comics too.

South London pun-master Milton Jones is looking forward to the festival atmosphere at both Balham Comedy Festival and Greenwich Comedy Festival.

He told us: “Usually there is a chilled out atmosphere at Balham. Certainly at Greenwich there will be a bar with cider and it tends to not be too rough as there is quite often another tent and things happening.

“I wouldn’t say it is a family atmosphere, but it is certainly a chilled atmosphere.

“People are up for a pleasant evening, rather than a raucous evening.

“Obviously festivals like Reading and Leeds are a different kettle of fish because it is all kids and throwing cups of wee at the stage.”

A comedian’s life is often more lonely hours on the road and in hotel rooms than on the stage so it is no doubt a welcome change to play a gig not only close to home but in the company of peers.

Jones, who grew up in Kew, said: “On tour I talk to thousands of people but not until the next night do I talk to more thousands of people, and quite often not many in between.”

As well as catching up with colleagues, it is also a chance for the 52-year-old Mock the Week regular to assess the state of the comedy landscape.

He said: “You have to keep abreast of what people are talking about and what’s an old idea and what’s a new idea and what crowds are reacting to.

“I have seen people take two, three, ten years off and it is hard to come back.

“Although comedy appears to be the same, it is constantly dating. What is funny ten years ago isn’t so funny anymore.

“It is by keeping abreast of what other people are doing that you keep a subconscious marker on where the edge is. It’s important to do that.”

That extends to staying in touch with the fellow one-liner comedians that he is frequently compared to.

He said: “Hopefully I am seeing Tim Vine tomorrow. He’s another person I get compared to a lot. We’ll just have a laugh.

“Us one-liner comics keep an eye out for each other: A, for whose lifting our jokes and also keeping an eye on what the other person is doing.

“I won’t go down that route if you’re going down that route. I do the same with Stewart Francis and I keep in touch with Gary Delaney as well.

“People always assume we’re enemies for some reason, I don’t know why. Our minds think in similar ways I guess.”

Jones’ point A, is a pertinent one for comedians famed for their one-line gags. As he said, ‘no-one really copies a story’. He is one of several high profile comedians whose funny lines have reportedly been lifted.

He said: “Certainly when you are starting off and someone more famous nicks your joke, that is terrible because everybody always assumes that the famous person made it up.

“And it is probably the writer of the famous person that nicked your joke rather than the famous person.

“That is very soul destroying.

“There are two types of theft: there is nicking it word for word but there is also driving the car into the garage, taking the serial numbers off and giving it a respray. Taking the idea of a joke and making it your own.

“That is obviously harder to track down but within the business we all know who does it.

“We will not work with that person or take them aside in the dressing room. I have seen fists fly. It is pretty self-policing.

“It is just when someone gets beyond the dressing room, is doing their own tours and stuff, and their writers are nicking stuff that it is much harder to police.”

In the 20 years since he won the best newcomer Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, Jones – with his wild hair, loud shirts and surreal yet deadpan style – has perfected his craft.

He said: “I have a better instinct for what will work and what won’t. My hit rate is better but it is still hard work.”

And yet, with regular appearances on both TV and radio, he’s also producing more than ever.

He said: “Having done more television recently in the last five years or so, I have had to triple my output in terms of new stuff.

“Television just eats it up, also touring as well. I have to write an hour and a quarter every other year which for a one-liner person is a heck of a lot. It is very hard to maintain the quality.”

His presence on television has also made Jones recognisable on the street, albeit less so when he is not in his stage get-up.

“I was in the chemist not so long ago and there was a film actor in there and he looked at me and I looked at him and I thought ‘oh he’s recognised me from the telly’.

“He came towards me and I thought we were going to have a nice media chat and he said ‘do you sell hand soap?’”

Milton Jones plays Balham Comedy Festival (balhamcomedyfestival.com) which is at The Bedford from July 8 to 16, and Greenwich Comedy Festival (greenwichcomedyfestival.co.uk) which is at the National Maritime Museum from July 26 to 31.

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