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Romesh Ranganathan: Rom Com

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

For a man who hates talking to strangers, Romesh Ranganathan proves rather good at it.

His low-level misanthropy is a constant thread in this supremely accomplished debut, as he portrays himself as a grumpy loner, not keen to interact with anyone – not his fellow Tube travellers; not the old woman with her cat in the Post Office queue; not even, to be brutally honest, his own children, who are a constant drain on his attention. It all involves effort on his part, and likely to come to no good.

Comedians talking about awkward everyday encounters is what the TV roadshows seems to like, but it has put modern comedy in to something of a rut, given so many stand-ups now base their anecdotal routines on elevating their smallest faux pas into big deals. But Ranganathan strikes the perfect note, self-deprecating enough to realise he’s being anti-social, possible neurotic, yet describing the subsequent fallout from such encounters or his terrible parenting with embarrassed authenticity.

Also, this not the only arrow in his quiver. He’s got the race angle for starters, and indeed kicks off the show with it, dryly reassuring the audience that he’s not just going to bang on about his ethnicity: ‘Only about ten per cent of my show is based on me being Asian,’ he deadpans. ‘The other 90 per cent is about my issues with white people.’ Though to be fair, he does seem to have issues with ALL people.

But this opens the door to sardonic dismissal of English Defence League morons, the offence he took when he WASN’T abused for the colour of his skin, or how a well-meaning send-off from the school in which he taught was woefully misjudged. His response is generally to roll his eyes sardonically at the ignorance.

Ranganathan applies the same dismissive attitude to everything from X-Factor to the weak-bladdered front-row punters who cause a kerfuffle taking their comfort break. He’s in control of this audience as he must have been in control of his classroom, always ready with a withering putdown with an air of insouciant superiority. But even his own foibles don’t escape scrutiny: after all, what kind of awkward sod becomes a vegan?

This is a loosely constructed show, but flows easily. It’s is packed, but unhurried, and Ranganathan exudes a confidence, not to mention ability, of a far more experienced comic. In short, this is one Rom Com that’s actually funny.

Review date: 5 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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