Caro Meets Comedy Interview Spoken Word Interview

Rob Auton: The Water Show

By | Published on Thursday 11 February 2016


Some artists are quite hard to categorise, and although you’ll find Rob Auton’s shows listed in ‘comedy’ and sometimes spoken word, I am not altogether sure the term ‘comedian’ quite fits. As he says: “I am a writer and performer of some of what I write”.

He is, however, very funny, and very talented – our review of his 2013 show is a testament to that – and I am very interested in his work. I put some questions to Rob, to find out more about what he does, and about ‘The Water Show’, which he performs at Soho Theatre next week.

CM: Hi Rob. It sounds as though the show might be about water. Can you elaborate a bit, though? What can we expect from it?
RA: You can expect a man trying to come to terms with his need for water and how much he and other living things depend on it. There is a bit about ducks in it and quite a bit about cucumbers and plumbing.

CM: What made you decide to focus on water?
RA: I want to write about things that are important to me that play a massive part in my life but that I very rarely think about. Water is one of those things. My new show is about sleep.

CM: For those who haven’t seen you perform before, how would you describe your style of comedy?
RA: I hope some of what I do is funny, but not all of it. I want to share what I have written to see if people get anything from it. I stand up at venues and say things I have thought of that I think are worth sharing. Sometimes I think something is worth sharing and I find out pretty quickly it wasn’t. Other times people respond through laughter. Some are funny and some are not, it depends who is in the room.

CM: How do you go about creating your stand up shows? Do you sit down and write them?
RA: I try to figure out what I want to say by writing it down, and then I say it to people and find out if I what I am saying causes any type of reaction. I want to try to make a connection with people through my work. To share how I feel about the world to see if anybody else feels the same way.

CM: You also do poetry/spoken word, don’t you? Do you use that kind of stuff within your stand up, or is that a different kind of performance?
RA: It all comes from the same place. There are some things that I have written that I wouldn’t do at a comedy night and there are some things that I wouldn’t do at a poetry night. I enjoy performing at both comedy and poetry nights and in theatres at night. With the hour long shows it is a mix. I would say my stuff is writing that I say or read out. If people get something from it, then great. I don’t know whether it’s comedy or poetry or theatre, it’s what’s inside of me that I want to get out, and at the moment I am doing it through words.

CM: What was being Glastonbury’s ‘poet in residence’ like? What did it involve?
RA: It was an interesting experience. It was the first time I had been to Glastonbury on my own. I had been before but always with friends. It involved sitting in a portacabin writing about things that I had seen at the festival such as a man sitting against a fence pointing at the sun and trying to lick it. He was in a difficult place I think. I hope he recovered.

CM: What made you decide on this kind of career in the first place? Was performing something you always wanted to do?
RA: No, I didn’t always want to perform. I don’t even like being the centre of attention on my birthday, so it’s strange that I stand up in front of people. Sometimes I have ideas that make me laugh or think and I want to share them to see if other people find them funny too. I love painting and drawing and writing. I guess a gig is like having an exhibition for stuff I’ve written down. The stage for me is the place where I can go off on one. Whether it be about the colour yellow or the sky or faces or water or sleeping.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the books you have published?
RA: Yes, certainly. My first book was published in 2013 by Burning Eye Books and it is called ‘In Heaven The Onions Make You Laugh‘. It has 110 pages and they are all different. It is a collection of writing and drawings. Some stories and shorter ideas. One piece is about milk. It looks like this.


This milk tastes like it’s off
But it’s on
My Cornflakes

That piece has its own page! My second book is published by the same company, it is called ‘Petrol Honey‘.

CM: What’s next for you? Anything new in the pipeline?
RA: I am writing another book and starting to preview my new show about sleep. I am doing festivals over the summer, and going up to Edinburgh with the Sleep Show in August. I am also doing a lot of gardening. I’m going to make a wormery now.

Rob Auton performs ‘The Water Show’ at Soho Theatre 15-17 Feb. See the venue website here for more info and to book tickets, and this page here for details of further tour dates and previews of the new show about sleep. Finally, see this page here for info on the monthly spoken word nights at the Bloomsbury theatre he co-organises.

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Photo: Molly Naylor