Edinburgh Fringe 2022
The Crowd Show
The Crowd Show is a show suitable for anybody who wants to be in the crowd for this show. 'A genuine original. Poetical, philosophical, humane, completely charming and funny to boot. (Guardian).
Hi Rob, thanks for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping?
My pleasure, yes all good here thanks. I found a good new muesli recently so that’s me sorted in the breakfast department for a while.
What does it mean to be heading back to the Fringe and Assembly Festival this summer, any nerves or is that a stupid question to ask?
Not nerves really just a healthy amount of concern that I want to do a good show. Trying to think of everything I can do to make it a positive experience for all involved. It’s like organizing a party or a dinner, not that I do that much but you don’t get nervous in that situation, just put the work in and make sure you’ve done all you can. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst etc.
What makes the festival so special to you?
This will be my 11th fringe, that’s more than some and not as many as others but it’s enough for me to have built up a relationship with the city of Edinburgh. I have different memories from different streets and bars, conversations on certain corners, special meals. Sitting on certain curbs after certain shows. I find it special because it gives me a chance to do what I really enjoy doing for a month.
Do you recall your first Fringe experience?
Yes I was doing a show called The Big Comedy Breakfast in the Apex Hotel on the grass market. It was on at 11.30 am every day, we shared a dressing room with Lionel Blaire who was the ultimate show-business professional. He really stormed it that month.
The Rob Auton Daily Podcast won a Gold Award at the British Podcast Awards, did you imagine your podcast would be so well received?
First and foremost I wanted to make something that I liked and thought was good. I worked hard to make sure each episode was as effective as it could be. Some were better than others but on the whole I was pleased with how they turned out. If I can make myself like something I’ve got half a chance of other people liking it too I guess. I do my best to focus on my job and if people like the result as much as I do then that connection is great. I was really chuffed to win the award, I’m not going to try to make out I wasn’t bothered but when I was making the podcast I wasn’t hoping I’d win an award.
Can you tell me a little bit about The Crowd Show, what was the inspiration behind this new show?
The Crowd Show is a show about crowds, people, eye contact, togetherness, Torquay, chanting, overhearing things in galleries. I use these shows as an opportunity to go off on one about a specific topic. Topics I’ve covered so far are Yellow in 2012’s Yellow Show then the sky, faces, water, sleeping, hair, talking, time and this one is crowds. I started writing it in 2019 with a view of doing the 2020 fringe with the crowd show but that view soon disappeared. After the past few years I wanted to write a show about people and how people are at the heart of everything I do really.
"It's best not to get to down on yourself when it goes badly or too congratulatory if it goes well."
With a show like this how important is it for you to have flexibility with your material once your show it’s running?
I think it’s always important to follow your instincts in the room. It’s not like a play where I can’t pick up on the happenings in the room. My favourite part of performing is when the show takes on life of its own and will never happen again. It’s always worth following a lead in the room but also I’ve made this show quite packed so I’m going to have to be quite disciplined to get it all in. People have come to see a show after all. Messing about for a bit is great but sometimes I milk it too much and I lose momentum. Got to keep it tight but not restrained.
Where did your passion for comedy come from and how much has your approach to your shows changed since your debut?
We had to do presentations at university at the end of every term, I enjoyed them more when I made people laugh. I think it’s because they seemed to enjoy it more. It gave me confidence and made me want to try to make people laugh more.
What has been your most memorable experience on stage?
Once I had to go on stage at a club night at 2am, I was following an audience dance-off for a magnum of prosecco. I remember that. I did a show with a group of 20 finish GCSE STUDENTS making up half the audience once. They were on a school trip, their teacher wanted to see some comedy so he brought them to my show and didn’t make a noise the entire time. I remember a show at Bestival when the show was so full people were climbing trees and watching from branches.
Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer anyone making their debut at the Fringe this year?
If you’ve just had a good show and you bump in to a colleague don’t say how good your show was just say “yeah it was alright thanks, how about you?” It’s best not to get to down on yourself when it goes badly or too congratulatory if it goes well. It’s important to stay focused on the job in hand and don’t take any notice of anything apart from your show every day. If you have a tough show and someone comes up to you after and they say they enjoyed it, don’t say “ah no I wasn’t on it today, you should have been here yesterday.” Just say thanks a lot I’m pleased you liked it.” I’ve really been down on my shows after when people are just trying to encourage you. Keep it positive as much as possible. Drinking alcohol has potential to make your show worse, eating well and sleeping has potential to make your show better, I really wish it was the other way around though. Be nicer to people who are flyering.
And finally, what do you want your fringe audiences to take away from The Crowd Show?
I want them to take away a determination to find the best in people and to attempt to feel positive about the human race we find ourselves in. I also want them to think that they have laughed and made a new memory.