First memory, first girlfriend, first job, York comedian Rob Auton discusses Rob Auton in The Rob Auton Show. UPDATED

Rob Auton: Memories

ROB Auton, York stand-up comedian, writer, podcaster, actor, illustrator and former Glastonbury festival poet-in-residence, returns north from London with his tenth themed solo show.

After the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleep, hair, talking, time and crowds, Rob turns the spotlight on himself, exploring the memories and feelings that create his life on a daily basis in The Rob Auton Show.

“The first one I ever did was The Yellow Show, though I think I should have done a show called The Rob Auton Show at the start, not when I’m scraping the barrel for a title!” he says, ahead of tonight’s(28/2/2024) gig at The Crescent, York, with further Yorkshire shows this week in Hull tomorrow, Leeds on Friday and Hebden Bridge on Saturday.

“But having done a show about crowds, I thought ‘it’s time to turn the mirror on me’, and I’ve moved far enough on from childhood and university days to have plenty in my rear-view mirror and feel mature enough to look back on.”

Rob built up the show’s content over 35 work-in-progress shows all over Wales and at last summer’s Edinburgh Fringe. “The reason I love doing those shows is you’ve got to get the roughest one out  of the way as early as possible, starting out last January. You’re listening for the reaction, for someone to prick a hole in the black piece of paper for the first glint of light to shine through,” he says.

“I was playing Corby, sitting in the dressing room, a bit worried, when suddenly I thought of something, and in the show that became the one moment where they laughed.”

The subject: “Remembering when my family and I went to Lightwater Valley [the adventure park at North Stainley, near Ripon] in 1997…on the day Diana died.”

Rob relishes putting a show together. “I just love the craft, and that’s why I love doing a daily podcast. I like to sit down and work on something, crafting it, rather than having it handed to me on the plate,” he says.

“For the work-in-progress shows I was picking out moments from my childhood: first memory, first girlfriend, first job, and what I’m finding is that when I speak of my first memory, of the footstool in my granny and grandpa’s house, it makes people connect with their own memories. That’s where the gold lies because they can then relax into the show.”

Memories within a family can differ. “I’d say things to my parents that I remembered happening in my life, but they’d say they didn’t recall them!” says Rob, who grew up in Barmby Moor.

Breaking (but not actually) breaking his duck: York comedian Rob Auton making his Edinburgh Fringe debut with The Yellow Show in 2012

What’s more, “there’s that thing with a story that it changes every time you tell it, and then how do you explain what the brain lets in, something that’s said and then stays with you for years?”

Better out, than in, as the saying goes. “Just vocalising all these thoughts that have been rattling around my head for years feels really good – and how strange some of them are,” says Rob.

“Going back to that footstool – made from orange and black plastic weaved material – I don’t know why it’s such a specific memory, but then there are the emotions that go with it, being a grandchild in the room, feeling warm and secure.”

Tapping into emotions is the key, Rob believes. “I’m massively into the ethos that if you can make people feel something, they will remember it. Maybe make them feel optimistic. That’s my goal,” he says.

A graphic designer by training, at Northumbria University, with a past in thinking too far outside the box in the London advertising industry, Rob has a way with a ballpoint pen as much as words, often combining the two in his satirical or surrealist poster prints (on sale at £15 a pop post-show, along with assorted books full of Auton philosophy, poetry and pictures and  new I’m Here For The Human Experience T-shirt).

The visual is important to Rob, but so too is the visual in the verbal.  “Totally! It’s that thing of painting pictures in words and using words as efficiently as possible, dropping things into people’s heads that aren’t there already, doing that in a specific way and in the exact words that come into my head,” he says.

“Neil Young talks about being like a transistor radio, picking up things like antennae do, and then giving them to the world. You have to be alert to capture it, and I’m definitely in the market for picking up new ideas every day. That’s how I make a living, taking things I hear and working them into the show.”

Coming next from Rob will be the Eyes Open And Shut Show, now being knocked into shape for this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe. “When I start working on something new, it’s like I have a bell in my head that goes off,” he says. “Your brain morphs into something else and becomes alert to what you’re on the lookout for: new things, trying to make something fresh and interesting.

“That’s what’s exciting about doing shows, stepping into that arena where anything can happen. I just try to stay faithful to the fact that people want to see that risk: the knife edge of something being funny or not. I’ll always take that risk.”

Rob Auton, The Rob Auton Show, Burning Duck Comedy Club, The Crescent, York, February 28, 7.30pm; Mortimer Suite, Hull City Hall, February 29, 7.30pm; The Wardrobe, Leeds, March 1, 7.30pm; Hebden Bridge Trades Club, March 2, doors 7.30pm, sold out.

Box office: York,; Hull,; Leeds,; Hebden Bridge,

Rob Auton: the back story

Rob Auton in The Hair Show

Name: Rob Auton.

Occupation: London-based York cult comedian, podcaster, writer, actor, illustrator and 2014 Glastonbury festival poet-in-residence.

Raised: Barmby Moor.

Educated: Pocklington schooldays; York College; Northumbria University, Newcastle.

First job: “The Crab Cake Kid”/kitchen worker in York restaurant at 16.

First job after university: Graphic designer for advertising firm in London.

First stand-up gig: 2008.

Edinburgh Fringe headline debut: The Yellow Show, 2012.

Shows: The Yellow Show; The Sky Show; The Face Show; The Water Show; The Sleep Show; The Hair Show; The Talk Show; The Time Show; The Crowd Show; The Rob Auton Show (sold-out month-long 2023 Edinburgh Fringe run; Soho Theatre, London, main house, January 22 to 27; now on tour, culminating in Machynlleth Comedy Festival show in Wales on May 6).

Accolade: Won Dave’s Funniest Joke of the Fringe at Edinburgh in August 2013, aged 30. The joke? “I heard a rumour that Cadbury is bringing out an oriental chocolate bar. Could be a Chinese Wispa.”

Appeared on: The End Of The F***ing World (Netflix/Channel 4); Miracle Workers (TBS); The Russell Howard Hour (Sky One); Cold Feet (ITV); Random Acts (Channel 4); Stand-Up Central With Rob Delaney (Comedy Central); Auton clip went viral with more than 11 million views on Facebook alone. Look out for cameo in latest series of Rose Matafeo’s Starstruck (BBC One).

On the radio: Stewart Lee: Unreliable Narrator (BBC Radio 4); Front Row (BBC Radio 4); Sara Cox Show (BBC Radio 2);Jonathan RossShow (BBC Radio 2); Craig Charles (BBC Radio 6 Music) and Afternoon Edition with Nihal Arthanayake (BBC Radio 5 Live).

Poetry collective: Member of Bang Said The Gun, stand-up poetry collective founded by Dan Cockrill and Martin Galton.

Podcast: The Rob Auton Daily Podcast, since 2020. Gold winner for Best Daily Podcast at 2020 British Podcast Awards. Two million listeners.

More podcasting: Chief squirrel correspondent on Shaun Keaveny’s new podcast Daily Grind. 

Books: Three collections of writing and drawing, Take Hair, Petrol Honey and In Heaven The Onions Make You Laughfor Burning Eye Books; I Strongly Believe In Incredible Things, poetic prose, short stories and ballpoint pen drawings detailing and celebrating everyday wonders, for HarperCollins’ Mudlark, 2021.

Spoken word album: At Home With Rob, on Scroobius Pip’s record label Speech Development Records.

Coming next: The Eyes Open And Shut Show, 2024 Edinburgh Fringe, Assembly Roxy, Upstairs, July 31 to August 25, 2.15pm. Box office:

“This is a show about eyes when they are open and eyes when they are shut,” says Rob. “With this show I wanted to explore what I could do to myself and others with language when eyes are open and shut. After writing ten shows on specific themes, I wanted to think about what makes me open my eyes and what makes me shut them.”