Rob Auton has a different take on life from mainstream comedians. He’s more of a poetry ponderings in motion man with an extra zesty twist just to spice things up and make you think.
We all wrote letters to Santa when we were kids but ‘what if Santa wrote a letter to us?…what would HE ask for?’
And what if a newspaper was written solely about the SKY, a bit like a tabloid but ‘with no nudity or murder…more views than news’…?
Rob is compulsive viewing and a genius poet of our time. SUSIE DANIELS breaks into his mind…
If your mind opens up like a map where would all roads lead?
There would definitely be two roads going in completely different directions. One road where I’m cleaning my teeth and thinking, ‘this is amazing’ and another where I’m wading through treacle.
Are you the voice of reason or ridicule?
I don’t think I ridicule very much. I try to have a reason to go on stage. My aim is to say things that have a reason.
I definitely talk about the reason for sleeping and needing to drink water instead of doing things like taking the mickey out of stuff. I think it’s funny.
Do you think of yourself as a comedian?
I think I definitely want to make people laugh and think about stuff in a different way. I do find things ridiculous. When I see stuff I see how ridiculous it is. The ridiculous thing is we walk and how we don’t have things in common. I’m a writer and a performer and I really enjoy making people laugh.
With the shows I put together I try to create an open space where people feel funny – it’s the reason I’m doing comedy.
Does your inspiration come from experience?
My graphic design course was all about ideas and I thought, ‘what job is there where people need people with ideas?’ so I got a job as a creative copywriter.
I was working in advertising and realised I had an aptitude for it. I did art for companies like House of Fraser and designed ridiculous cartoons.
I started to fill my notebook with ideas kicking against the brief.
How did this lead you into comedy?
My director, Martin Galton, said he was doing a poetry night with fireworks he and asked me to come along.
I really enjoyed reading poetry that night and it made me think, ‘these odd, weird thoughts I’m having, if I write it as poetry it can be entertaining’, so I started to do more stuff. Martin set up comedy and poetry showcase Bang Said The Gun and someone said they were taking Bang to The Fringe for the Big Comedy Breakfast in 2009. I wrote about the colour yellow!
What else did you learn from your time advertising?
In the world of advertising I was almost at odds with it. It is a business and kind of gobbles people up.
Three points you need in advertising that were hanging as a statement on the wall in my office: Grab Attention, Say Something Relevant, Leave an Impression.
If you had to market yourself what would be your Unique Selling Point?
I hate the idea of being a brand. Singer Iggy Pop said, ‘be yourself in a consistent way’.
I want to make people feel safe in a space and be able to make their own mind up about what they’re doing.
You’re going to feel as much as you’re going to laugh in my show. Someone reviewed my Sleep show and I’m still figuring out the review!
Will you bring out a Little Book of Rob pondering life or is that what you already do?
If I could bring out a religion it would be Autonomy. Steve Jobs said, ‘when you realise that all stuff is made up by humans it’s really freeing to know that’.
All big thinkers are just thinking and some people are buying into their ideas and some don’t.
I just want to look at things in my show and say how I feel about them. I love reading but try and think from my heart about everything. I think the internet is making everything so small because there’s so much information.
What’s happening this year for Rob?
The tour of the Sleep show in July, gigs at the Stand. The Hair Show is coming out.
One thing I’m looking at in the hair show is that the hair on the top of my head is leaving the building so I’m growing it on the bottom of my head on my chin!
I can only get so down about my hair. I started to lose my hair and get really down about it so as I’m getting older I think ‘So what? Don’t I want to get older?’ Of course that’s what I want to do!
What do you believe in?
People power! I love The Beatles, John Lennon and I believe in peace.
When you see the state of the world today I feel my shows are a place for me to say something.
Where is your happy place?
I love being on stage and I love writing so that is my happy place. It’s so intense doing the gigs and coming off stage and coming down trying to get to a level. I don’t think I’m bipolar, I just get very sad and I want my shows to be full of hope.
My Sleep show is all about trying to grip onto your waking rather than sleep life. I write a letter from Father Xmas to myself.
What makes you laugh?
I love mishearing things or reading something out of something like Rothko paintings.
The thing with singer David Bowie is he was just doing his art and not giving any tricks away so as long as some people take something away from my show I’m happy.
I was in the supermarket the other day and heard two Cockneys having a conversation and one said to the other at the barbecue section, ‘shall we get some pork?’ and it sounded like the other one said, ‘no, we won’t eat pork because it’s got religion in it’ (laughs).
Rob Auton plays The Stand Comedy Club in Glasgow on May 10