‘Did the people who set time going really think time would stand the test of time?” Rob Auton’s The Time Show is full of playful paradoxes such as this. With its multiple related meanings, time lends itself to wordplay. Between its colossal role in our lives and our uncertainty as to what (or whether) it is, there’s fruitful terrain for comedy. Or poetry, in which Auton also trades. His lilting, reflective shows aren’t just about laughter, they’re about lyricism and naive wonder, too.
We’re in wistful territory then: The Time Show is so full of wist it spills over. There’s enough for you to take some home. It finds Auton checking the audience’s watches while pondering how we all (billionaires and criminals; leavers and remainers) agree about this thing called time. Why? And “what is time without numbers? Maybe it’s like painting without numbers.” More expressive. Freer. Up to us.
Give or take the odd moment when he meanders off topic, it’s a pleasure to share this ruminative space with Auton – although why he clutches his script throughout, I don’t know. As he interrogates the fashionable injunction to “live in the moment” (all of them?), imagines a diary entry by his newborn self, and pictures every instant of his life as individual bubbles in a bubble wrap, it starts to feel less like The Time Show was designed to make us laugh than to reassure downbeat Auton that life is worth living. It’s a tender and twinkling hour spent marvelling at the little round face on our wrists, and what it means. You don’t usually want to be clock-watching at a comedy show, but here, it’s precisely the point.