Arts Q&A: Comedian Rob Auton on Bob Dylan, Spike Milligan and Tom Waits

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, comedian Rob Auton

Rob Auton now turns his attention to talking in The Talk Show, which he brings to Belfast's Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in May

1. When did you think about a career in comedy and what were your first steps into it?

If I was at school, standing up on stage would be play time for me. If I thought, “Oh, will this show be good for my career?” I would struggle. It's something I do and enjoy. When I started doing it I realised I really enjoyed it and have wanted to keep doing it ever since. My first steps into it were walking towards a microphone for the first time with some sheets of paper in my shaking hand.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

Radiohead at Glastonbury in 2003, Daniel Kitson's A Show for Christmas at Battersea Arts Centre in 2014 and Martin Creed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2017.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Tom Waits, due to his ability to make people dance and cry at the same time.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island?

Bob Dylan, Biography. There's three discs and all are as good as each other. He was the person who made we want to write things down.

5. And the book?

Fear by Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, Thich Naht Hanh. There's some very good breathing exercises in it that might help me deal with being alone on a desert island.

6. Top three films?

Forrest Gump, because it makes me experience a spectrum of emotions that I want to feel; Four Lions, due to the dialogue and The Truman Show as it made me look at the Moon differently.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Pass. It was unmemorable.

8. Favourite authors?

Ivor Cutler, Spike Milligan and Stanley Donwood.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

Swimming – team Rob.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Millington in Yorkshire on a bright sunny day in winter.

11. Pet hate?

People who aren't children and ride their bikes at speed on the pavement in London.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? I can't answer that question accurately as it changes, but the first time I had a bacon and egg sandwich for dinner at my Nan's house was pretty special.

Dessert? I like making banoffi pie, but the results are varied.

Drink? I once had some bottles of Estrella from an ice bucket at a wedding on a hot day and those were pretty spot hitting.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

God, because he gives me strength to answer overly personal questions.

14. Is there a God?

Not today.

:: The Talk Show is a comedy/theatre/spoken word show about talking by award-winning writer and performer Rob Auton. He will be performing it at The Sunflower, Belfast on May 11 as part of The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. For tickets and full programme details visit

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