Rob Auton: The Sleep Show

What is sleep to you? A distraction? A reward? A perversely sweet taste of that undiscovered country? Whatever it is, it’s a massive part of your life: around a third of your time is spent sleeping — 27 years of an average life spent dreaming nonsense or not at all. Armed with a soft Yorkshire brogue and a knack for startling insights, Rob Auton has composed an hour of comedy packed full of fascinating insight and wistful meditations on the subject of sleep

An hour in Auton’s company is as entertaining and perspective-altering as the very best of dreams

For the past five years, Auton’s standup shows have each adopted a single, one-word theme — first ’Yellow’ in 2012, then ‘Sky’, ‘Face’, ‘Water’ and, now, ‘Sleep’. Where most comics go for breadth, Auton prefers to plumb the depths of a single, seemingly mundane but universally relatable topic. This approach, when conducted by a poet and thinker of Auton’s calibre, is mesmerising. In The Sleep Show, the audience is taken down a mind-expanding rabbit hole, granted privileged access to surprising, invigorating new perspectives on something we do every single night.

Auton finds such moments of profundity via his childlike perspective. That’s not to say there’s anything juvenile about him; rather, Auton’s simply retained the ability to see the world with genuinely curious eyes, unfiltered by the cynical tunnel vision of regular adulthood. He refuses to take anything as a given, to accept something just because that’s the way things are; and that commitment to irreverent deconstruction is the source of the show’s most fascinating — and most hilarious — moments.

And, make no mistake, Auton’s show is very funny. Yes, The Sleep Show is intelligent, perceptive, and deeply profound — all of that’s true. But it’s also hilarious. Auton has a talent for crafting surreal one liners, as well as the occasional wonderfully awful pun; he nudges you along the path of a melancholic thought which makes you laugh as it blindsides you with an unsettling truth.

The Sleep Show is bizarre and beautiful; thought-provoking and life-affirming. An hour in Auton’s company is as entertaining and perspective-altering as the very best of dreams.

Reviews by Jamie P Robson

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The Blurb

This show is about sleep. It is suitable for those who have slept. Following on from 2012's The Yellow Show, 2013's The Sky Show, 2014's The Face Show, 2015's The Water Show, award-winning writer and performer Rob Auton returns with 2016's The Sleep Show. ‘Just sad’ (Vanessa Feltz). ‘We need him’ (Scotsman). ‘Entirely compelling to watch’ (Daniel Kitson). ‘A genuine original. Poetical, philosophical, humane, completely charming and funny to boot.’ (Guardian). ‘Like watching a kid caught in the stage lights of his first Nativity’ (

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