Photo of Rob Auton and Sophie Duker

Live Comedy: Rob Auton and Sophie Duker
Huntingdon Hall, Worcester – 15th June 2024

The night’s proceedings were ushered in by – “Your favourite comedian under 5’3” – Sophie Duker with her latest “work in progress”. The premise was the notion of seeking supportive help through Therapy (sic). It is clear humour comes in many forms. Duker’s relationship with her Mother and Father has produced the need to not only explore the comedy but also the very need for counselling. There was a serious message behind the observations but the comedy was at the forefront. Tellingly, when Duker asked if anyone in the audience had undertaken therapy, the volume of agreement was noticeable. How times have changed. No doubt Duker willcontinue to polish her show before Edinburgh Fringe over the coming weeks. For me though, the stand-out line of the night was when Duker approached a member of the audience again and confused them with another audience participant: “Oh, I’m sorry but you all look the same to me.”

The second act of the evening did not present, look or sound like any other comedian.

Despite attending a state school Bob Auton had an inner confidence which was apparent from the outset. His slightly shambolic persona, that of a Geography teacher who has given up teaching in the classroom but can always fill the hour with ease: as he can still make the kids laugh. The slightly nonplussed, distracted and self-conscious delivery is compelling. It is as if he has thought of these observations for the first time. However, the faux start and new introduction proved Auton knew his way around his act.

Just like Huntingdon Hall with their ability to book entertaining, original and inventive acts.

The “work in progress” meant Auton ventured into the spotlight with his show written on a supermarket A4 pad (sic). That’s not to say that well-rehearsed spontaneity didn’t spread its insurrection. “I’m from York, so I bought a t-shirt with “I Love N. Y.” and put a line through the N with a permanent marker.” You have to be confident to deliver these lines. Again, it was clear throughout Auton had the full confidence of the crowd.

The surreal nature of the comedy was whole-heartedly embraced by the audience. His sketch which involved mass-meditation concluded with a whole Huntingdon Hall audience sat with their eyes shut. Apart from those “that did not trust the comedian.” Trust me, the routine about metal –detecting whilst wearing steel-toe capped boots was memorable for the imagery and the laughter which was as insistent as your detector discovering a field full of aluminium can-pulls.

Auton was happy to break down the “fourth wall”; wilfully interacting with the audience in the determined search for comedic gold. Discovering Mary & Joseph in the top balcony must have convinced many that there is a God?

Many know the quote by Sylvia Plath, “I speak to God and the sky is empty.” However, how many know the quote…

“So, if down there is the ground and up there is the sky, what’s all this in the middle?” – Rob Auton

It will be interesting to see whose quote stands the test of comedic time?

By: The Swilgate Scuttler

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