Are your work presentations funny? It’s a slippery slope, warns comedian Rob Auton
Posted by  badge Boss on Aug 19, 2023 - 10:23PM
Rob Auton is embarking on his 10th year at the Edinburgh Fringe as we speak (Picture: Julian Ward)

While some comedians may armed with a darkly comic story of their past trauma, Rob Auton had the colour yellow.

It’s a chirpy colour alright, energetic almost: much like what Rob thought he was like on stage, until he got confused by reviews praising his ‘sloth-like’ delivery, and deadpan jokes.

‘I only kind of found out that I was deadpan on stage by seeing a video of myself,’ Rob said in an exclusive chat with

‘I thought I was quite upbeat, quite snappy, which is ridiculous, isn’t it? And then I’d get a review and it would say something like, “His sloth-like delivery”.’

But don’t be fooled, Rob’s brain is going like the clappers, even if he looks calm as a peach on the outside. ‘It’s like a duck’s feet under water,’ he explained.

There’s something refreshing about a comedian who isn’t trying to be too loud or clever. He’s not hurling names of z-list politicians to a side-eyeing audience in an attempt to seem up with the times, and he’s not trying to make a point. He’s simply, well, funny.

This year, Rob is talking about himself (Picture: Julian Ward)

But Rob didn’t always see the stand-up arena as his calling. Initially, it was presenting PowerPoints at university.

‘I realised if I injected some humour into the presentations, people would stay engaged for longer.’

Naturally then, at the start of each presentation (of which there were many) Rob would hand over to an alter ego like James Earl Jones, who would then go through the slideshow as Darth Vader. As you do.

‘People would really laugh. So I thought, I’m enjoying this. And then that was where I got the bug for it, definitely.’

Down in London after university, Rob worked in advertising. But much of the time he just scribbled thoughts down in a notepad at his desk. He then spontaneously read these out at a fireworks party with his co-workers, and that became his first gig.

‘It was called poetry, but I don’t know if it was. But that was it, that was my first gig. And then I just started doing more and more and more. Now I’ve been going it since 2007.’

Each show, Rob chooses a topic to focus on. Previous subject matters include the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleeping, and hair, to name a few. Sound’s boring? It’s definitely not. Because while his topics seem broad and potentially mundane, Rob’s brain works in weird and wonderful ways, and he can mine a joke from just about anything.

This time, for Rob’s 10th Edinburgh Fringe show, he thought it would be apt to choose himself as the topic. But don’t worry – there’s no childhood trauma chat here.

‘It’s not like any kind of harrowing stories or anything like that. I mean, one is just where I used to work in a restaurant and they put me in charge of making crab cakes. And they used to call me the crab cake kid, because I was good at them.’

Rob will be leaving political jokes to ‘brilliant people’ like Matt Forde, then. ‘I’m almost too sensitive to think about that stuff to much,’ he said. ‘It just depresses me.’

But just because Rob doesn’t talk about zeitgeisty soundbites from Twitter, or confess his inner most secrets and bang on about anal – yawn – it doesn’t mean he’s not thought about what he’s putting out into the world.

‘I do look at the state of the world, and that is probably what pushes me to want to celebrate things like the sky, and all that we’ve got in common, like having faces and drinking water, and sleeping and talking,’ he said, with sudden earnest.

‘If I am privileged enough to be able to stand on stage and share my ideas, I want people to leave feeling uplifted, and feeling like we’ve got more in common than we did when they first came in.’

‘Basically I’m just trying to grab time and moments before they go.’

Aren’t we all?

Rob Auton brings his brand new show, The Rob Auton Show, to Assembly Roxy, Upstairs as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from August 2 to 26 at 14.25pm, then on tour. For more info and tickets, visit