Ask A Comedian: Rob Auton

Ian Chaddock

BY Ian Chaddock

11th Jan 2024 Humour

4 min read

Ask A Comedian: Rob Auton
Award-winning comedian and writer Rob Auton returns with his tenth stand-up show, this time all about his life. Ian Chaddock asks him about his funniest experiences…
What stand-up special or comedy film made you fall in love with comedy?
Airplane was the first film that I remember really laughing at. My dad was laughing at it as well so that really upped my enjoyment of it. It didn’t make me fall in love with comedy though I don’t think.
I think that came in 2004 when I saw a recording of Ivor Cutler live from Bloomsbury Theatre. That was the best and funniest thing I’d seen, with regard to someone being funny. Maybe I was more ready for it then. Life in general is a bit funnier when you’re a child so maybe I didn’t need the humour quite as much as when I was an adult.
What do you remember about your first time doing stand-up?
It was 2007 when I used to work in advertising and my old creative director was having a fireworks party in his back garden. He said some of his friends were going to be reading some poems at the party and I asked him if I could read some stuff out from my notebook that I’d written. I’m not sure if it was poetry, more ideas I’d had that I found funny and I wanted to say them in front of people.
"They laughed at some of it—enough to make me want to do it again! "
For me, stand-up isn’t about me trying to make people laugh, it’s more about me seeing if they find funny what I find funny. I was so nervous I was pretty much unable to eat anything for two days before it. They laughed at some of it—enough to make me want to do it again! I felt really encouraged and that was the most important thing, I think. 
What’s the weirdest heckle you’ve ever heard and how did you reply?
I started making some prints of various lines from my shows—a bit of text and a drawing. The last time I was in Chorley in the first half of my set, when I do some older bits, a guy shouted out, “I’ve got that on my wall!” Then someone else shouted it at a different bit. It went on and ended up with people saying, “I haven’t got that on my wall.” It was a funny night.
Rob Auton. Image © Julian Ward
Also, that night someone left me a ring doughnut and a sausage in a bag by the microphone. It was there when I got on stage and refers to a bit I have about whether a Tic Tac can fit through a Polo, I think. Crazy. 
What has been your funniest live show experience?
At the Edinburgh Festival in 2022 I had Deborah Meaden from Dragon’s Den in the audience. I had a bit about a business idea I’d had and managed to pitch it to her in the show. That was a funny moment. There’s been a lot but this question has made me want to keep more of a log.  
As well as stand-up, you’ve worked on TV panel shows, radio shows, books and podcasts. Which of these other formats do you find works best for comedy?
I think radio is a special place for comedy. It’s something about giving your ears all the power and your brain working harder than when you watch telly. The same goes for podcasts really, but radio still has that magic of thinking about other people listening to it at the same time.
"Nothing beats being in a room full of people who are facing a stage and laughing"
I like formats that make people focus on the words because that is what my work is based around. Nothing beats being in a room full of people who are facing a stage and laughing though, I don't think. 
What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you in your life?
That’s a funny question isn’t it? It’s a good one to think about. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Me and my wife were in Madrid and we were rowing on a lake. I rowed into a fountain and the boat started to fill up with water. That was pretty funny. I think I’m lucky that I’ve had quite a funny life so far. Well, part of it is funny anyway.  
What’s your new stand-up comedy show  The Rob Auton Show  about and what can people expect from your tour in January, February and March? 
The Rob Auton Show is my tenth show in a series of shows on a theme. My first show was about the colour yellow and it was called The Yellow Show. My second show was about the sky and then I did shows about faces, water, sleeping, hair, talking, the time and crowds in The Crowd Show.
"It’s the most personal show I’ve done"
With this being the tenth one of the series I wanted to make it all about me, so I wrote The Rob Auton Show. The show is a mix of comedy and other passages that are a bit more poetic, I think. It’s the most personal show I’ve done and, basically, it’s me looking at my life, and sharing stories from it that made me laugh or made me think about my life. My first memory, my first job in a kitchen, my first girlfriend. I loved doing it in Edinburgh and I’m looking forward to saying this material to people on tour.  
Rob Auton will perform a week-long run at London’s Soho Theatre in January (22–27) before touring the UK with his show The Rob Auton Show in January, February and March 
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