ROB Auton, York stand-up comedian, writer, podcaster, actor, illustrator and former Glastonbury festival poet-in-residence, returns north from London with his tenth themed solo show.

After the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleep, hair, talking, time and crowds, Rob turns the spotlight on himself, exploring the memories and feelings that create his life on a daily basis in The Rob Auton Show.

"The first one I ever did was The Yellow Show, though I think I should have done a show called The Rob Auton Show at the start, not when I'm scraping the barrel for a title!" he says, ahead of tonight's (Thursday, February 29) gig at Hull City Hall and tomorrow's show at The Wardrobe, Leeds.

"But having done a show about crowds, I thought 'it's time to turn the mirror on me', and I've moved far enough on from childhood and university days to have plenty in my rear-view mirror and feel mature enough to look back on."

Rob built up the show's content over 35 work-in-progress shows all over Wales and at last summer's Edinburgh Fringe. "The reason I love doing those shows is you've got to get the roughest one out of the way as early as possible, starting out last January. You're listening for the reaction, for someone to prick a hole in the black piece of paper for the first glint of light to shine through," he says.

"I was playing Corby, sitting in the dressing room, a bit worried, when suddenly I thought of something, and in the show that became the one moment where they laughed."

The subject: "Remembering when my family and I went to Lightwater Valley [the adventure park at North Stainley, near Ripon] in 1997...on the day Diana died."

Rob relishes putting a show together. "I just love the craft, and that's why I love doing a daily podcast. I like to sit down and work on something, crafting it, rather than having it handed to me on the plate," he says.

"For the work-in-progress shows I was picking out moments from my childhood: first memory, first girlfriend, first job, and what I'm finding is that when I speak of my first memory, of the footstool in my granny and grandpa's house, it makes people connect with their own memories. That's where the gold lies because they can then relax into the show."

Memories within a family can differ. "I'd say things to my parents that I remembered happening in my life, but they'd say they didn't recall them!" says Rob, who grew up in Barmby Moor.

What's more, "there's that thing with a story that it changes every time you tell it, and then how do you explain what the brain lets in, something that's said and then stays with you for years?"

Better out, than in, as the saying goes. "Just vocalising all these thoughts that have been rattling around my head for years feels really good and how strange some of them are," says Rob.

"Going back to that footstool made from orange and black plastic weaved material I don't know why it's such a specific memory, but then there are the emotions that go with it, being a grandchild in the room, feeling warm and secure."

Tapping into emotions is the key, Rob believes. "I'm massively into the ethos that if you can make people feel something, they will remember it. Maybe make them feel optimistic. That's my goal," he says.

A graphic designer by training, at Northumbria University, with a past in thinking too far outside the box in the London advertising industry, Rob has a way with a ballpoint pen as much as words, often combining the two in his satirical or surrealist poster prints (on sale at £15 a pop post-show, along with assorted books full of Auton philosophy, poetry and pictures and new I'm Here For The Human Experience T-shirt).

The visual is important to Rob, but so too is the visual in the verbal. "Totally! It's that thing of painting pictures in words and using words as efficiently as possible, dropping things into people's heads that aren't there already, doing that in a specific way and in the exact words that come into my head," he says.

"Neil Young talks about being like a transistor radio, picking up things like antennae do, and then giving them to the world. You have to be alert to capture it, and I'm definitely in the market for picking up new ideas every day. That's how I make a living, taking things I hear and working them into the show."

Coming next from Rob will be the Eyes Open And Shut Show, now being knocked into shape for this summer's Edinburgh Fringe. "When I start working on something new, it's like I have a bell in my head that goes off," he says. "Your brain morphs into something else and becomes alert to what you're on the lookout for: new things, trying to make something fresh and interesting.

"That's what's exciting about doing shows, stepping into that arena where anything can happen. I just try to stay faithful to the fact that people want to see that risk: the knife edge of something being funny or not. I'll always take that risk."

The York-based Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Rob Auton in The Rob Auton Show, at Mortimer Suite, Hull City Hall, tonight (February 29) 7.30pm; The Wardrobe, Leeds, tomorrow (March 1), 7.30pm. Box office: Hull,; Leeds,

By Charles Hutchinson