Romesh Ranganathan Q&A
Romesh Ranganathan is a rising stand-up comedian who you might recognise from recent appearances on Mock The Week. The former teacher, last year nominated for Best Newcomer in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, lets us in on his experiences of panel shows, his thoughts on industry awards, his latest show, and plans to tour in the autumn.
Hi Romesh. Why did you decide to swap the classroom for the stage?
I was enjoying teaching and I was just doing stand up as a hobby. Then I started to enjoy the stand up more and more and I was getting disillusioned with teaching. I enjoyed my time in the classroom but I was doing so much comedy that I was becoming an awful teacher. I was preparing lessons as I walked up the stairs to the classroom, I was marking homework occasionally at best.
I couldn’t keep both of them up, and the job of teaching had changed from what it was when I started. Government changes to pay and conditions, and accountability moving to a point where I felt that not all decisions were child-centred. So it felt like the right thing to do. I do sometimes miss being in the classroom though. But without rules so I could punch the mouthy kids.
For those who’ve not seen you before, how would you describe your work?
This is a horrible question, just so you know. It’s basically a lovely way for someone to sound like a complete tosser as they describe their “work”. I know exactly what you’re trying to do.
But, to answer your nasty question, I moan a lot about my family situation and other stuff that I don’t understand. It’s fairly tedious, but once you get past that, it gets fairly amusing.
Do you ever worry about being so open with your life and experiences on stage?
Yes, all of the time. I never set out to be so open, but it just came to be that the stuff that was true and personal worked best for me. I admire people who are truly honest in a way that I am not, but when you examine the lives of most of those people, opening their lives up completely didn’t really work out for most of them, sanity wise.
The only problem with it is that your opinions change, or evolve. I said a couple of things last year that I expressed badly, or didn’t get across properly, and that wouldn’t bother me if I was not talking about something so close to home.
I’m pretty sure that my children will see some of the things that I have said about them when they get older and go on to hate me.
But If they like having toys, they’d better fucking lump it.
Last year you were nominated for Best Newcomer in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards and won Best Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival. How much value do you place on industry awards?
Awards afford you a certain amount of validation, that means that people view you as less of a risk, which is great. But it’s naïve to think that winning awards or nominations does not come partly as a result of good fortune.
Basically I will value awards for as long as I am winning them. Once that dries up, I will start getting drunk and moaning about how the industry ignores me and that every award is a pile of shit.
What did you learn from your first show?
I learned that it is possible to get sick of the sound of your own voice.
I also learned that watching other people’s shows is a one way road to exploring your own inadequacies about your own career, leading to an alcoholic spiral of depression that can be almost impossible to escape, ended only by being in Bristo Square at four in the morning face down in your own urine.
Tell us about Rom Wasn’t Built In A Day.
It’s a show about self improvement. It’s a loose theme. It’s essentially an hour of new stand up. It’s about me reflecting on how good a person I am. I think it’s better than my last show.
I’m talking about similar concerns, but my life has moved on, so my views have changed. I’m trying to be a better person, because my wife rarely complains and I’m worried just she’s storing this up so that she can leave me. So I’m trying to be better as a preventative measure. It’s romantic.
You’re doing more and more TV work, most recently on Stand Up For The Week and Mock The Week. Do you enjoy doing TV or is it just a vehicle to build your own audience?
I enjoy TV and it’s a vehicle to build my own audience. I like doing both the shows you mention, as they’re just a good laugh and you’re often working with nice people. It does help to get people to trust you enough to buy a ticket to your show, so that’s obviously nice.
I will generally only do stuff that I think would be enjoyable to do. Or that will make me a star.
Finally, what’s next for you after August? I understand you’re touring?
I’m doing various bits and pieces, but September will mainly be focused on trying to complete Watchdogs on the Xbox. I’ve had to leave it while ding Edinburgh prep, so I’m looking forward to going back and smacking the shit out of that.
After that I will be on tour with the lovely Suzi Ruffell, I think we’re touring together so that people can see someone who is actually upbeat after seeing a morose twat for an hour. I’m really looking forward to it. I imagine Suzi isn’t.
Romesh Ranganathan: Rom Wasn’t Built In A Day, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 30 July – 24 August, 8.15pm, edfringe.com