Rob Auton on The Rob Auton Show

Comedian Rob Auton on his self-reflective live show which arrives in Glasgow in March

Words: Louis Cammell

While working in advertising in 2007, would-be stand-up Rob Auton was invited to read aloud from his notebook of personal doodles and musings. 17 years later, he has published three hilarious, moving poetry books.

The latest was in 2021 and was quintessential Rob Auton. I Strongly Believe in Incredible Things showcased his strength for taking the everyday and reminding the reader not just to laugh but to cherish it. His latest hour-long live show, The Rob Auton Show, was a hit at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We catch up with him as he prepares to take it on tour.

Tell me about The Rob Auton Show?

This show feels like the one I should have started with, really. Back in 2012 or so, instead of doing a show about the colour yellow or the sky. But I didn’t have the toolkit to do it back then. After a decade of doing solo shows, it’s like I finally felt equipped to look back at my childhood. The show has a lot of firsts in it. First memory, first girlfriend, first gig. And I think that’s one of the good things about getting older. You get further away from some of your past so you can see it more clearly. Almost like driving away from a city and looking in the rear view mirror and going, ‘oh, right. That’s what it looks like.’

So, this is the tour of your most recent Fringe show. How was Edinburgh?

Fringe was good this time, thank you. I made the decision to go into a bigger room, so it was a bit of a gamble, but it paid off and it was a really nice space. The best thing about making a show, for me, is starting with very little, working on it really hard, and making it good enough to take to Edinburgh and then on tour. And even to keep making it better there.  

This year I figured out where to have the confidence in like the slowness in it and things like that. That made me have faith in it because they kinda came with me on it. I’m always just learning to try to put myself in the correct mindset. It’s almost like doing a really big ski jump or something and just trying to get yourself into that focus mode to try and give yourself the best chance of setting off and landing.

A lot of people loathe starting things. They put it off forever. But it seems that’s the part you enjoy most. 

Absolutely. I love the start of things. Yeah. I love the start of shows, all of the optimism that comes with the start of things. My favourite bits of films are the beginnings, you know, when it starts and you’re going, this could be brilliant. Before it’s not and you turn it off after ten minutes. It’s good to get excited about new things. I’ve got that Rick Rubin book at the moment, and he’s always just talking about ‘start the new thing.’ I think you’ve gotta put yourself in a position where you are in the mindset of, ‘I’ve gotta make something happen’. You’ve gotta have your receptors up. 

Rick Rubin is fascinating. Do you tend to dive deep into the habits of other creative people and that kind of thing?

I’d like to say yes, because I buy a lot of those books, but they sit on the shelf, you know? Apart from this Rick Rubin one, which I am ploughing through. But I want to be a better writer so I’ve got to become a better reader.

Your subject matter is always quite quotidian, quite everyday, yet you manage to end your shows in a way that puts a ball in people’s throats.

I always try to make the endings of my show quite strong, just so it almost tricks people into thinking that they’ve seen something that is better than it was. Like Phoebe Waller Bridge [who created Fleabag] said, making people laugh loosens them up. So make them laugh first and then say something serious. 

There’s a bit in the show where I talk about breaking my sister’s friend’s Super Nintendo when we borrowed it. I’d hidden it under my bed. And I didn’t know what to do, so I just went into my bedroom and got my cricket bat. I went into the living room and then just started smacking myself in the face with it. And she can’t remember it. [What] was such a key memory of my childhood, my sister couldn’t remember.

So I made that into a bit of the show about how our memories don’t all look the same, do they? And about the ridiculousness of trying to handle things when you were a child but you haven’t got a clue. I still haven’t got a clue, you know?

Would it be fair to say there’s a running theme of hope and celebration in your work? Specifically, it’s often about the beauty of being able to convene together and feel strongly about things.

I’ve got to stay sensitive to everything really, yeah. I keep returning to the theme of I’ve been born onto a planet and I can’t believe it, look at all this stuff. I’ll never stop saying, what the hell is going on? And whether that’s a sunrise or a crisp packet on the top of a railing, or the stuff you see on the news. It’s hard, especially right now, because it is just all so overwhelming. But I want to keep myself open to be overwhelmed, because if I shut myself off, then I feel like I’m kind of done. I want to stay excited about being alive. I want to tap into the miracle everyday.


Rob Auton performs The Rob Auton Show at The Stand, Glasgow, on Thursday March 07. Tickets are available via or

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