YORK stand-up comedian and poet Rob Auton was having difficulty being heard on the phone. His voice kept disappearing into a muffled abyss.

Then it dawned on the interviewer: "Rob, could your hair be getting in the way?" Rob's hair is the talking point of his latest investigative slice of offbeat comedy, The Hair Show, and in the name of research he has left his hair and beard to their own devices since September 2016. They won't be reacquainted with scissors and a razor until the final performance is over in May.

"This is a show for anyone who has, or has had, hair and hairs," says the poster for the hermit-hirsute Rob, who will cast an introspective eye over the world of hair at The Crescent, York, tonight (March 9) as he returns north from his London base.

In the past, he has contemplated the colour yellow in The Yellow Show, the sky in The Sky Show; then the face, water and sleep. "I love thinking about different things in depth, and the thing about The Hair Show is that it's had much more of an effect on my life than any previous show," says Rob, his mane now swept back out of the way.

"I've been growing my hair since September 2016, and when you walk into a pub with not just a big beard but wild hair too, there's quite a reaction, and that's been interesting!

"I'm looking forward to cutting it off, as it's frustrating not being able to communicate on the phone, or having to wash your face after every meal because of food getting in your beard.

York Press:

Bright idea: Rob Auton in The Yellow Show

"It's been an experience, especially finding people's attitudes changing to me as the hair's grown, like people now not wanting to sit next to me on the train or moving away from me on the Tube. Though the people who do talk to me seem more friendly, like in supermarkets. Maybe I'm a novelty! Drunks now come up to stroke my beard."

Rob began performing The Hair Show last March, developed the show more for the Edinburgh Fringe and, like his hair, it has continued to grow and grow. "The bigger the beard has got, the show has got better and better because every night something new slips out and I build on it every time. It's still a work in progress; it's never finished."

Auton's show tonight brings him back to the city where he was born, the son of a plumber, in Fulford Hospital. He was brought up in Barmby Moor and educated at Woldgate School in Pocklington before doing an art foundation course at York College, when The Gallery nightclub fought for his attention.

Art nevertheless prevailed. "The first thing I realised I had an ability at school was art and drawing, and doing that art foundation course got more into music more, and for me, art, music and comedy, are connected; they're the same," he says.

"I went to university in Newcastle to do graphic design and my course was all about concepts, coming up with ideas. Each term I had to stand in front of the class and give a presentation and I'd try to make mine funny. I decided to move to London to get a job that required ideas and I thought advertising would be ideal."

The path was not the smoothest, but work experience led to writing adverts for the House of Fraser. "But I got really frustrated because I just wanted to make things entertaining and started filling notebooks with ideas I had. The creative director said he was holding a firework night with poetry, and that's when I read my poems for the first time."

York Press:

Zzzzzz....Rob Auton in The Sleep Show

Rob was instantly at home, going on to perform at the Bang Said The Gun stand-up poetry nights in London. "The best thing was that my instincts were right; the things I thought would be funniest were the things that people laughed at the most, even though I was so nervous I hadn't eaten on the day of my first gig."

The year was 2007, and Rob now has an ever-expanding portfolio of themed shows. He is already breaking in the next one, The Talk Show, albeit with the incongruous hair a distraction at his preview in Tring earlier this week. "Talk-show hosts don't look like me; they're all short back and sides, so I'll have to think how I'm going to look by the time I go to the Edinburgh Fringe," he says.

"Being The Talk Show, it's about talking, but it's also about stuff I really want to talk about," he says. "It's like a painting: when you start, you go in one direction and then it goes in another direction and you have to go with the flow. I want the show to be different every night, to have fun with it, to go off-piste, to take risks and I'll definitely be doing that.

"You have to throw it to the wind, that's when a show starts to really cook and the audience goes with it. It's trial and error; that's what all my shows have been."

Rob Auton: The Hair Show, presented by Burning Duck Comedy Club/ Say Owt Slam, at The Crescent, York, tonight (March 9), 7.30pm. Box office: wegottickets.com/event/408799.