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.”

More Things To Do in Ryedale, York and beyond when comedy bites. Here’s Hutch’s List No 3, from Gazette and Herald

Deaf comedian Steve Day: Playing on the Hilarity Bites bill at Milton Rooms, Malton

A DEAF comedian and history-charting musicians, a classic thriller and a feminist fairytale, a community choir festival and a prog-rock legend make Charles Hutchinson’s list of upcoming cultural highlights.

Ryedale comedy gig of the week: Hilarity Bites Comedy Club, Steve Day, Ashley Frieze and Carl Jones, Milton Rooms, Malton, Friday (23/02/2024), 8pm

THE first Hilarity Bites bill of 2024 will be headlined by Steve Day, who describes himself as “Britain’s only deaf comedian and if there are any others he hasn’t heard them”! Actually, a couple of others have started since he wrote that joke, but it is only a joke after all.

On the bill too are guitar-toting funny man Ashley Frieze, with his charming, daft and warm brand of music-infused stand-up, and Midlands storytelling comedian Carl Jones, a football fanatic who interviews comedy cohorts for his ​Premier League nostalgia podcast When Football Began Again. Box office: 01653 696240 or

Chris Green and Sophie Matthews: 600 years of music crammed into 90 minutes at Pocklington Arts Centre

Musical tour of the week: Green Matthews: A Brief History Of Music, Pocklington Arts Centre, Friday, 8pm

STRING player Chris Green and woodwind player Sophie Matthews take in 600 years of musical history in 90 minutes, spanning the Middle Ages to the 20th century in a whistle-stop tour of Western music.

Featuring long-forgotten songs, tunes and jokes too, Green and Matthews paint a vibrant and vivid picture of our musical DNA, mixing the familiar and the obscure, the raucous and the reflective and the courtly and the commonplace. Box office: 01759 301547 or

Skylights: Lighting up York Barbican in November

Gig announcement of the week: Skylights, York Barbican, November 2

YORK band Skylights will play their biggest home-city show yet this autumn, with tickets going on sale on Friday at 10am at in a week when latest release Time To Let Things Go has risen to number two in the Official Vinyl Singles Chart.

Guitarist Turnbull Smith says: ‘We’re absolutely over the moon to be headlining the biggest venue in our home city of York, the Barbican. It’s always been a dream of ours to play here, so to headline will be the perfect way to finish what’s going to be a great year. Thanks to everyone for the support. It means the world and we’ll see you all there.”

Rick Wakeman: Return Of The Caped Crusader at York Barbican

Catch him while you can: Rick Wakeman, Return Of The Caped Crusader, York Barbican, Saturday, 7.30pm

PROG-ROCK icon and Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, 76, is to call time on his one-man shows to concentrate on composing, recording and collaborating, but not before playing York. “I always planned to stop touring by my 77th birthday,” he says. “For those of you who wish to send me a card, it’s 18th May!”

Saturday’s show opens with Wakeman’s new arrangements of Yes material for band and vocalists, followed after the interval by his epic work Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. Box office for returns only:

Jessa Liversidge: Directing Easingwold Community Singers’ performance at the York Community Choir Festival

Choirs galore: York Community Choir Festival 2024, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 25, 6pm; February 26 to March 1, 7.30pm; March 2, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

THE 8th York Community Choir Festival spreads 31 choirs across eight concerts over six days at the JoRo. On the opening evening, Easingwold Community Singers will be premiering director Jessa Liversidge’s arrangement of The Secret Of Happiness  from the American musical Daddy Long Legs, with permission of composer and lyricist Paul Gordon.

Choirs range from York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir to The Rolling Tones, Sounds Fun Singers to York Military Wives Choir, Selby Youth Choir to Track 29 Ladies Close Harmony Chorus. Six choirs from Huntington School perform next Friday, taking up all the first-half programme. Box office: 01904 501935 or

Todd Boyce, left, and Neil McDermott in Sleuth, on tour at Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Jack Merriman

Thriller of the week: Sleuth, Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday

TODD Boyce, best known for playing Coronation Street’s notorious baddie Stephen Reid, will be joined by EastEnders soap star Neil McDermott in Anthony Shaffer’s dark psychological thriller about thrillers, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.

What happens? A young man arrives at the impressive home of a famous mystery writer, only to be unwittingly drawn into a tangled web of intrigue and gamesmanship, where nothing is quite as it seems. Box office:

Emma Rice: Writer-director of Wise Children’s Blue Beard, playing York Theatre Royal from next Tuesday

Play of the week: Wise Children in Emma Rice’s Blue Beard, York Theatre Royal, February 27 to March 9, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

BLUE Beard meets his match when his young bride discovers his dark and murderous secret. She summons all her rage, all her smarts and all her sisters to bring the curtain down on his tyrannous reign as writer-director Emma Rice brings her own brand of theatrical wonder to this beguiling, disturbing tale.

Applying Rice’s signature sleight of hand, Blue Beard explores curiosity and consent, violence and vengeance, all through an intoxicating lens of music, wit and tender truth. Box office: 01904 623568 or

Rob Auton: Star of The Rob Auton Show, full of firsts, from memories to girlfriends to jobs

Comedy gig(s) of the week: 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

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

After the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleep, hair, talking, time and crowds, Auton turns the spotlight on himself, exploring the memories and feelings that create his life on a daily basis. Box office: York,; Hull,; Leeds,

Three shows in three nights at Theatre@41: Elysium Theatre’s Reiver tales, Frankie revelations in Howerd’s End and Ria Lina

Elaine MacNicol in The Widow’s Path in Elysium Theatre Company’s Reiver: Tales From The Borders, on tour at Theatre@41, Monkgate, and the Grey Village Hall, Sutton-on-the-Forest

ELYSIUM Theatre Company presents Matthew Howden, Elaine MacNicol and Steven Stobbs in artistic director Jake Murray’s touring production of Reiver: Tales From The Borders at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight at 7.30pm.

The Reivers were lawless families who terrorised the Anglo-Scottish border for 400 years from Newcastle to Edinburgh, Carlisle to Dumfries, until King James I broke their power. Living by blackmail, extortion, protection and theft, they grew to become some of the most powerful families of their time: the Nixons, the Armstrongs, the Charltons, the Maxwells and many more.

Steeped in the folklore and history of the northern borders, writer Steve Byron weaves three tales of ordinary people caught up in the Reivers’ web, a farmer, a lawman and a young woman, as they take a stand against their murderous ways in a world of violence and injustice.

In Blackmail, an innocent farmer is forced to take a stand against the bullying threats of a powerful Reiver family. In Godforsaken Place, a southern lawman exiled to the north by the corrupt London authorities tries to save a Reiver child from a terrible fate.

In The Widow’s Path, a Scottish woman sold into servitude as a child pursues the murderers of her husband. She will not rest until she has overturned the Reiver order to gain her revenge.

As law and order do battle with corruption and greed, will good triumph over evil, or will evil win the day?

Simon Cartwright’s Frankie Howerd and Mark Farrelly’s Dennis Heymer in Howerd’s End. Picture: Steve Ullathorne

Tomorrow night, at 7.30pm, Mark Farrelly’s play Howerd’s End goes to the heart of York-born comedian Frankie Howerd’s secret. A secret called Dennis Heymer, his lover, friend and anchor, with whom he had a clandestine relationship from the 1950s until Frankie’s death in 1992.

From the writer of Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope and The Silence Of Snow: The Life Of Patrick Hamilton comes a show packed with humour in a glorious opportunity to encounter Frankie in full-flight stand-up mode, but also unafraid of the truth.

Howerd’s End portrays a shared, defiant journey through closeness, love, grief and all the other things that make life worth living. Come and say farewell to a legend… and learn the art of letting go as Farrelly’s Dennis is joined by Simon Cartwright’s Frankie in a touring production directed by Joe Harmston.

Ria Lina: Riawakening makes it three nights in a row at Theatre@41 on Friday at 8pm. In the aftermath of a global pandemic, comedian and scientist Ria Lina has undergone a Riawakening and now sees the world differently.

In her debut tour show, she tackles the issues of coming out of a pandemic, the new normal, divorce, dating in a new digital world, motherhood and what it really means to be a woman today.

Fearless and provocative, Ria is the only Filipina comedian working on the British stand-up circuit and has appeared on Live At The Apollo, Have I Got News For You, House Of Games, The Last Leg and Celebrity Mastermind.

Tickets are on sale at Durham company Elysium Theatre’s Reiver: Tales From The Borders also visits the Grey Village Hall, Sutton-on-the-Forest, near York, on October 28 at 7.30pm; tickets, 01347 811428. Ria Lina plays The Wardrobe, Leeds, on October 19, 7.30pm; box office,

Ria Lina: York and Leeds gigs on Riawakening tour

Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings to open tour at The Wardrobe in Leeds on Feb 1

Jon Boden: Playing The Wardrobe in Leeds with The Remnant Kings

JON Boden & The Remnant Kings open next month’s five-date tour at The Wardrobe, Leeds, on February 1 at 8pm.

Joining boundary-stretching folk heavyweight Boden will be fellow Bellowhead musician Sam Sweeney, Leveret’s Rob Harbron, Ben Nicholls, from Kings Of The South Seas, and M G Boulter.

Lead singer and main arranger for the reactivated progressive folk juggernaut Bellowhead – who played Harrogate Convention Centre on their Broadside 10th Anniversary Tour on November 25 – Boden founded The Remnant Kings in 2009 to perform his album Songs From The Floodplain.

Those initial performances combined the album’s post-climate change concept with other songs that might survive the apocalypse, taking in folk songs, Bach, pop and jazz, all rubbing shoulders with his own compositions. All this was augmented by the use on stage of two wax cylinder players, playing specially recorded material.

The Remnant Kings went into hibernation for several years while Bellowhead hit top gear but were reunited and relaunched to record Boden’s 2017 album, Afterglow, followed by the more traditional Rose In June in 2020, before contributing to Last Mile Home, the final album of Boden’s post-apocalyptic trilogy, in 2021.

Tickets are on sale at Doors open at 7pm.

The artwork for Last Mile Home, the third album in Jon Boden’s post-apocalyptic trilogy

Comedian Maisie Adam’s Harrogate homecoming has her buzzing on first tour

“The hair is fun, the live performance is way funnier,” said the London Evening Standard of Maisie Adam’s haircut, the one to rival David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane for multiple choices across one barnet. Picture: Matt Crockett

MAISIE Adam took her first stage steps in youth theatre sessions in the Harrogate Theatre Studio.

Born in Pannal just outside the spa town, this former head girl at St Aidan’s High School would later return to the top-floor Studio in her fledgling days on the comedy circuit to perform at the Harrogate Comedy Festival.

Now, comedian, actor and writer Maisie is looking forward to tomorrow’s homecoming when she graduates to Harrogate Theatre’s main stage on her first UK tour, Buzzed.

The gig has sold out, as has tonight’s date at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, although tickets remain available for The Leadmill, Sheffield, next Thursday.

“It’s super-exciting,” says a suitably buzzing Maisie, 28. “It’s wonderful any time I go back, but going there with this show, in that specific venue, will be special. Whenever I’ve performed there, it’s always been in the Studio, but this time, being in the big room, feels very touching.

“I’ll be channelling Tim Stedman,” says Maisie Adam, who every winter visits Harrogate Theatre’s pantomime, led by the boundless comic buffoonery of Stedman’s village idiot, pictured here in Snow White

“Me and my family go to the pantomime every year to watch Tim Stedman. He is pantomime! He’s fantastic. That’s the level of comedy you have to bring to the stage, so I’ll be channelling Tim Stedman!”

Post-Harrogate Youth Theatre and the National Youth Theatre, Maisie trained at East 15 Acting School in Southend, graduating with a BA in Acting and Community Theatre. However, after initial plans to act and write, including a Laurence Marks sitcom-writing mentorship in 2015, a return home to Yorkshire and temp jobs led to her comedy road-to-Damascus conversion in 2016.

Wholly inexperienced, Maisie did a full hour’s set in her stand-up debut gig at Ilkley Literature Festival as her first show took shape under the title of Living On The Edge.

Acting involves subsuming yourself to play another character, sometimes using it as a shield for shyness, in a team environment, whereas stand-up comedy is all about being yourself on stage, on your own, maybe even playing an exaggerated version of you, performing your own words.

“I think it’s that whole thing of fear,” starts Maisie. Not in comedy, but in theatre. “When you’re doing comedy, you’re in control. If it goes well, you get all the cheers. If it goes wrong, you can’t blame anyone else.

“If you’re continually doing the same play, you can get bored, but with stand-up, it’s different every night,” says Maisie. Picture: Matt Crockett

“But with acting, you could be a really good actor, but if the script isn’t good, or the other actors aren’t particularly good, or the director isn’t, or the show just isn’t working, you’re not in control.

“With comedy, there’s definitely that thing of being an extension of yourself, and there’s loads you can do with that, because it’s a chance to improvise.

“The more you do comedy, the better you get at it – and it’s fun as well! If you’re continually doing the same play, you can get bored, but with stand-up, it’s different every night, the venue, the audience, the interaction.”

Maisie made rapid advances on the comedy circuit with her anecdotal material and convivial manner. Within months of that Ilkley debut she won the UK’s largest stand-up contest, So You Think You’re Funny?, followed a year later by the Amused Moose National Comic Award for Vague, her 2018 debut Edinburgh Fringe show about being diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy at 14.

Television appearances on Have I Got News For You, A League of Their Own, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Mock The Week and The Last Leg have piled up, and a podcast with fellow comedian Tom Lucy, That’s A First, has been running since 2019.

“The worst thing that can happen with comedy is that you feel safe and secure,” says Maisie. “If that happens, you’re not doing it right.” Picture: Matt Crockett

She loves the unpredictability of stand-up, the need to stay on her toes and keep her comedy radar tuned. “The worst thing that can happen with comedy is that you feel safe and secure. If that happens, you’re not doing it right,” says Maisie.

“You should want anything to happen on the night, and as long as you have a loose structure, knowing that ‘x’ and ‘y’ will be happening, then you can move things around and be open to anything.”

Buzzed, her follow-up to her 2019 show Hang Fire, has been extended from the regulatory 60-minute maximum at the Edinburgh Fringe – or 70 minutes as the Guardian review said – for the 2022-2023 tour. “It was 60 minutes,” says Maisie. “It was just that when you have other shows going on before and after you every day, that day the shows were running ten minutes late.”

Buzzed now opens with a 30-minute “very spontaneous, anything-can-happen” first half, then a break, followed by the full Buzzed show. One that the Guardian reviewer said was “bursting with puppyish pleasure”.

“Don’t tell me about reviews,” steps in Maisie. “I don’t read them. You’re being judged by someone who’s never done comedy but just goes and watches. That would be like me ‘reviewing’ Wimbledon. I mean, I enjoy watching tennis but why would I need to review what was good about someone’s tennis performance?!”

Leeds United: One of the two great loves of Maisie Adam’s life

While on the subject of sport, Wikipedia’s Maisie profile sums up her personal life as: Lives in Brighton. Engaged to Mike Dobinson as of December 2021. Also a Leeds United fan.

Mr Dobinson or the maddening LUFC, Maisie, who do you love more? “I think they’re of equal status! They’re the two loves of my life. 100 per cent.” One is much better for her mental health, however, she adds.

Her relationships, whether in love or with houseplants, feature in Buzzed and so does the footballing aplomb of 5ft 11inch Maisie. “I played at a relatively high standard as a kid. I got to county level,” she says. “I still play in a league in Brighton, but more of that in the show.”

Why settle in Brighton, Maisie? “I just needed to be nearer London, but the idea of living in London filled me with dread.”

Maisie Adam: Buzzed, Leeds City Varieties, tonight, 8pm, sold out; Harrogate Theatre, tomorrow, 8pm, sold out; The Leadmill, Sheffield, October 13, doors 7pm; Pocklington Arts Centre, February 17 2023 and The Wardrobe, Leeds, March 3 2023. Box office: Sheffield, 0114 272 7040 or; Pocklington, 01759 301547 or; Leeds, 0113 3838800 or