On Saturday, I went to Greyfriars Charteris Centre for a sellout and one of two comedy gigs headlined by Milton Jones. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Greyfriars Charteris Centre is up from the Pleasance Courtyard but isn’t there and was used by Just the Tonic Comedy Club for the night. The plans are to make this a regular thing, and that’s fantastic news.
Edinburgh local Connor Burns was Compère for the night, JoJo Sutherland the warm-up act and then, after a break (which I wasn’t expecting), the star Milton Jones.
Connor Burns, I hope, goes on to represent Edinburgh as an amazingly successful comedian. He’s just back from New York, and I hope that’s a good sign.
I didn’t think I’d warm to Connor and came to that conclusion moments into his introduction. It was a case of scanning the audience and looking for some targets. Oh, this tactic is not unique to Connor, not generally beloved by audiences, but typical because it does break the ice and entertainers need the feedback.
We were a tough crowd and, as later pointed out, an old crowd, with the vast majority of us over 50. I felt as if we were like a warship’s bulkhead, a solid and unmoving obstacle at which Connor was trying to chip away at. And I appreciated the chipping as much as the bulkhead would.
However, Connor Burns won me around over the course of the night. He did look for niggles to tease us with, but he wasn’t ever mean and never went in search of shock and scandal.
JoJo looks like one of those helpful people who might step in and calm angry parents in a schoolyard fluster. Imagine my surprise to discover that she swears like a trooper.
You don’t need to imagine my delight to discover that she’s frank, funny and insightful.
The story, and I hope it’s true, is that around 50, JoJo decided to take a new turn in life, ditched a husband and got on with being a full-time comedian. I love that. Looking at her Just the Tonic blurb, I see that she was the warmup act for Jonathan Pie, and I predict if I’d researched that before grabbing the tickets and told friends, I would have arrived at the gig with a legion in tow.
I’m going to look for JoJo Southerland in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2024 schedules.
I didn’t research, delay, or even slow my hand when the Just the Tonic newsletter told Edinburgh that Milton Jones was coming. I rushed to buy my ticket.
I’m glad I did.
This fellow crazy hair gent shambles onto the stage, points gentle fun at Conner Burns, and then sets about delighting the audience.
Milton Jones generally tells one-liners, and perhaps some examples can illustrate what I mean;
“My aunt Marge has been so ill for so long that we’ve started to call her ‘I can’t believe she’s not better’.”
“Hopefully, I’ve got a book coming out soon. Shouldn’t have eaten it, really.”
“One of my earliest memories is seeing my mother’s face through the oven window. As we played hide and seek and she said: ‘you’re getting warmer’.”
There’s a catch, though, and a welcome one as these jokes sometimes come back to be woven into another apparently one-liner told later in the sketch. It’s delightful.
Milton also had a bit of trouble with the inertia of the audience. Not only were we generally old and stubborn, we were almost exclusively from Edinburgh, and so the usual trick of getting place names and locations from the audience and making jokes about them produced little in the way of material.
I had a great night, and despite being surprised by an intermission, I think it was a good idea. I suspect it was mainly to give the audience time to go back downstairs to the bar and spend more money.
I didn’t drink there, so I can’t tell you how expensive it was.
I hope Just the Tonic successfully brings (more) high-profile comedians to Edinburgh on regular and outside Festival dates.