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Rob Auton: The Sky Show
Published on Thursday, 22 August 2013
4

4 stars

The Banshee Labyrinth (venue website)
Comedy
3-12, 14-24 Aug, 4:00pm-5:00pm
Reviewed by Liam McKenna

 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.
 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

Rob Auton is going to need a bigger venue. Earlier today it was announced he’d won “Best joke of the Fringe”, and clearly a lot of people had heard about this. Fresh from an interview with Vanessa Feltz on Radio 2, Auton looks out in bewilderment to address the jam-packed room. People are actually being asked to leave because they’re causing a fire hazard. “Is this a dream?” he asks.

But his show goes beyond one good joke. Auton is, by his own admission, not a gag merchant. He’s more a poet and comic storyteller. “The joke isn’t even in this set,” he confesses awkwardly, revealing an even weirder story behind this sudden burst of popularity.

Hence the dream-like state Auton finds himself in, which completely suits his show’s awe-inspiring subject: The Sky. He claims to have the biggest poster in town; “you just have to look up.” And it is this careful pondering poetry that carries the show like a cool breeze.

Auton has a superb imagination, full of optimism and innovation. His imagined transformation of a certain tabloid newspaper into something bold, more positive and with arguably “more views than news” is so simple and effective that it’s hard to believe no one’s thought of this before. But you can say that about all the best ideas.

Like the sky, watching Auton is a spectacle in itself. He muses on the beauty that surrounds us. He is wide-eyed, and full of questions that have plagued mankind. “Where does the sky begin?” he asks. He questions how the famous people of history dealt with the hot weather. Did Shakespeare and Mozart sunbathe? Did Jesus ever look out his window and wonder if he’d need a coat? What films would be different if the sky didn’t exist? The audience nods and laughs along, grateful that Auton has taken the time to contemplate these things.

Auton has expert comic timing. He draws laughs from the faintest drop of the head, leaves sentences hanging; lets the audience fill the gaps. He also reveals a vulnerable side. He tackles the human condition, the uncertainty that leads to religion (“just a typo” on a leaflet) and tells captivating stories through powerfully driven performance poetry.

A story about a dream coming to fruition brings the show to a moving end, crammed with beauty and vivid imagination – you can tell by the hushed, awed silence throughout that the audience is hanging on every word here. It’s amazing how much material Auton has amassed from the sky, and I for one look forward to seeing what theme he tackles next.

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