The very definition of weird and wonderful
Now here’s a comic I really like, who reminds me of the art-school mischief of Simon Munnery and the gentle poetic leanings of Tim Key. And, like both of those comedic auteurs, Rob Auton does what he wants, presumably well aware that not everyone will like it.
York-born Auton has done a show about the colour yellow, last year he did one about the sky, and this year, it’s faces. Which may sound a bit rehab-y, but instead it’s more because Auton is someone who has retained a little innocence in adulthood, and that’s no bad thing.
Faces has the feel of a scrappy school project that’s got out of control, as he sticks very literally to the theme of faces –those he sees, those he thinks about, what they are, how they change; he even leads us on some facial warm-ups with him as Mr Face-ivator – all with an arty backdrop of faces painted on to a sheet.
But an odd profundity emerges from the show, as he considers who we value in our lives, and the invasion of images all around us which we grow accustomed to. He sticks family photos into a World Cup sticker album, as if to extinguish the possibility of having to deal with yet more famous strangers being inflicted on us. There are faces in the audience he recognises from last year, he says, looking genuinely chuffed.
For someone who won “Joke of the Fringe” last year, the comedy comes more from slow-burning musings than hard punchlines (as you can probably tell), such as his thoughts about how a person would look like if their face didn’t grow along with the rest of their body (see photo).
Auton cuts a rakish figure, and, face-wise, is a seriously handsome bugger himself. He also has some of the worst mic-craft I’ve ever seen of a comic, though in the tiny Banshee Labyrinth he can get away with it. He treats the micstand as if it were an unruly ironing board, not a performance aid.
And then the end section: a heartfelt monologue that begins fantastical and ends as an unashamed outpouring about the miracle of life, and our most basic wants and needs. Written down it looks cynical, especially given the fact that some comics do reach for the heartstrings purely for manipulation. But anyone could tell that Auton is genuine in his piece, and few would begrudge him the rapturous applause it earned.
Review by Paul Fleckney