Rob Auton is not a man to shy away from a bad review – he has a section of his website dedicated to ‘praise and criticism’ of his shows.
‘I have great delight in reading the reviews of the shows because some people get it and get on board, and some people don’t,’ says the poet-cum-stand-up.
‘That’s fine. I would prefer some people to get it and really get it and other people to be like: “I’m not really sure”. On my website I try to put the criticism in as well, I like it when people have an opinion about it.’
The performer is currently taking his Water Show on his biggest ever tour, but he admits that his curious style may not be to everyone’s taste.
‘I’ve never really said I’m a comedian or a poet, I’m just a writer and performer, but unfortunately that isn’t a section in the Edinburgh comedy guide brochure.
‘I think as an artist or performer, I’m not trying to make something that’s for everybody, I’m trying to be a creative person and say how I feel about the world.
‘Life isn’t just a barrel of laughs all the time, and I think that comes over in the work sometimes and it can be a bit bleak, sometimes, but not always.
To have that balance and get people engaged I think the show needs ups and downs, I really love shows like The Office, and programmes like that. My favourite parts in those programmes is when the laughter stops – those heartfelt moments.’
However, as he’s recently signed to Avalon Management, an agency with many of the biggest names in comedy on its books, someone clearly thinks he’s doing something right.
‘Just having that feeling that you’ve got a few people vouching for you makes a difference from it just being me. Avalon said they wanted to open some doors for me, and it’s all right for them to open the doors, but I’ve got to keep delivering to keep those doors open.’
I’ve never really said I’m a comedian or a poet, I’m just a writer and performer, but unfortunately that isn’t a section in the Edinburgh comedy guide brochureRob Auton
Before launching this career in 2008, Rob worked as an advertising creative ‘because I thought that would be a good place for someone who likes having ideas to earn a living’, until he realised that business interests overruled much of his ability to express himself in his work.
It was when he was invited to take part in a poetry night run by a colleague that the penny dropped.
‘I did it and I kind of got the taste for it.
I’ve never got over it really, it was something I could really feel positive about. It’s just that feeling that you’ve connected with someone through what you do, whether it’s film or music, or art in some way, you feel like your on the same wavelength as someone, as if I’m trying to prove to myself that I’m not completely mad, you know?
‘Sometimes I walk around and I have ideas that I think are funny – funny enough for me to write them down exactly as they come into my head and then get up and say them to see if anyone else finds them funny. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. I guess that’s the nature of the beast.’
Having explored the colour yellow in 2012’s The Yellow Show, the sky in 2013’s The Sky Show and faces in 2014’s The Face Show, Rob has now turned his attention to water.
Explaining how he chooses his themes, he says: ‘I wanted to write about things that were important to me, the yellow show was a bit of a tester for myself, so I thought what else do I like but take for granted, but also get a lot of pleasure from. Next it was the sky, then faces. It’s all about just trying to explore a subject I haven’t explored before but it a massive part of my life.
‘With water, every single day as long as I’ve been alive, water has been a massive part of my life. I find it really exciting to explore, it’s more for to be able to go off on one.
‘That word water, it’s the word in the centre of a spider diagram, then me just going: hat can I say about water? And trying to make it entertaining for people, to create humour and maybe make a couple of people go: “Oh yeah!” when they turn the tap and it might make them laugh.’
The Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham
Thursday, March 17