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I TALK TO Rob Auton

"I don't want to write about temporary things. I want to write about things that are going to be around in ten years time."

Credit: Julian Ward

His 2018 hour, The Talk Show was the second best-reviewed comedy show at last year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe and following a nationwide tour, Rob Auton is returning to the festival with his eighth hour in as many years, The Time Show.

In the past his shows have explored the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleep, hair and talking and this year after hearing that the daylight saving hour could be binned, Rob was in disbelief on just how easy it would be to change time forever and decided to write an entire show about time.

During our chat he talks about the possibility of ever taking a year off, what audiences can expect from his new hour and he talks about his cameo in ITV's Cold Feet.

You made your debut at the Fringe in 2012 but haven't had a year off since then. Do you ever thing you will?

Good question. I like to think that one year I'll have a year off from the Edinburgh Festival but I don't know when that'll be. I've just been absolutely loving it to be honest. The first year I did it was 2009 when I was doing The Comedy Breakfast which was just 15 minutes and then I did it in 2011 but 2012 was the first hour and I've done it every year since then.

You just get into a routine with it really. But as my life changes I'll probably definitely have to say goodbye to the Fringe at some point and take a year off.

Do you find it easy coming up with a new hour every year?

I wouldn't say I find it easy, but I definitely throw myself into it. I think when you do that and you commit to doing it, you just do it don't you? It becomes something that you have to do but also I want to do it. It's something that I love doing and with the subjects that I give my self, it's a pleasurable experience for me because it makes me think about specific subjects - and they're always subjects that I'm interested in.

The first show I did was about the colour yellow because I bought a yellow raincoat and it made me feel slightly happier every time I put it on. I called it The Yellow Show and once you've filled in that form to say you're doing it, there's no going back!

And I think that's good. It's good to sign up to things that there's no going back from. I'm absolutely bricking it about the Fringe at the moment but I'm really excited about it as well. That's my favourite type of emotion that, when you're nervous but also excited and a bit giddy about it. You have to put all that doubt out of your mind and focus on the show. I love performing, I love writing and that's it really.

I put myself through the pain of getting a preview in as early as possible, in January, and doing a really bad one as soon as I can and then build the show from there really. So hopefully by the time you get to August you've done it enough that you have a much better idea of what you're doing.

What can people expect from The Time Show?

Time is another one of these subjects that is just around us all the time. It's been with me since I was born, I've asked people what the time is and they've told me, it's a massive part of my life. But I've never really thought about it that much.

Basically the show is me coming to terms with time. Thinking about the people that set it up, with these seconds and minutes and hours and how engrained it is in our culture, when really it's been made up by people.

I talk about the shape of numbers and how people have designed those. I like to pull things apart really and the fact there's a zero and a letter 'O' - didn't someone think that they look the same and one of them should change?

It's also about me looking at what I've been doing with my time. How I want to spend my time. Really, I just want it to be an uplifting show that gets me into gear and makes me want to make the most of my time on earth really.

All my shows are about the amount of stuff that we have in common and that's what I want to focus on. I know we have a lot of differences, but there are so many different opinions and beliefs in this country at the moment that you can ask a stranger what the time is and believe what they say.

I don't want to write about temporary things. I want to write about things that are going to be around in ten years time. Politics fades so quickly.

After seeing my show I want people to grip onto life and the time that we've got and realise how lucky we are to have it and try and have a go and make some memories. I've been telling myself that I want to make one memory a day.

How have the previews been going?

Up and down but on the whole I've been absolutely loving them. The thing is, when you start you've got to take that hit of a lot of your material not working and your show having no structure. The more you do it, the more it reveals itself to you.

It's like painting a painting, the first preview is one brushstroke and you can't after one brushstroke just walk away from it and think "I'm giving up on this painting." You've got to keep working and hopefully by now, which I think it is, it starts to come together. But it won't be as good as it can be until after Edinburgh and after I've toured it. The more you do something, the better it gets.

You appeared in Cold Feet earlier this year. What was that like?

It's interesting, because stuff like that are things that my parents can appreciate. Their neighbours telling them "I saw Rob in Cold Feet last night, he's doing well isn't he?"

I've been trying my guts out since 2007 to get people to listen to what I've been doing. I'm on Cold Feet for about 30 seconds and that's what people are talking about. I loved it though. It was such a good experience to be on that set and see how professional Jimmy Nesbitt and all that lot were. They were really nice to me.

Outside of the Fringe, what are you working on?

I want to submit some ideas for some children's books. I love to draw and write so I'm in the process of doing that. I've got another bit of acting coming out which will be on Netflix, but I can't say what it is. That was an absolute thrill for me. I'd love to do more acting. It's all about testing myself and seeing if I can do it.

And I'm hoping to do a nationwide tour of The Time Show and that's one of the best thing about doing this as a job. I get to see a few different parts of the country and seeing different people.

Finally, how would you sum up this year's show in just five words?

Optimistic. Hopeful. Punctual. Spacious. Deliberate.

Rob Auton: The Time Show runs from 31st July - 26th August (not 13th) at 2.50pm at Assembly George Square Studios (Five). Book tickets here.


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