Originally published in qmunicate
March 2016, Glasgow International Comedy Festival, The Garage
The wave of uproarious laughter that greets Romesh Ranganathan’s first joke is a testament to his popularity: his appealing brand of mock misanthropy is one which engages the audience immediately, ruminating on topics such as family, his weight, Gogglebox and his Sri Lankan heritage.
His initial reference to his BBC3 show Asian Provocateur, which has recently been recommissioned for a second series, is met with a knowing cheer and jokes about the popularity of his scene-stealing mother – who is clearly a fan favourite – resonate with the audience, indicating their familiarity with his previous TV work, which has certainly been prolific in the past few months.
Jokes about deporting his mother aside, there’s not much that Ranganathan attempts throughout his Irrational tour that doesn’t provoke ebullient laughter. His comedic routine is self-knowingly rambling, deviating into alternative topics so seamlessly that the audience don’t quite realise they’ve been diverted. He is also consistently funny, a sense of continuity arguably more important than the range of his material, which is fresh, witty and relevant, discovering moments of comedic potential in every small interaction: although his humour typically revolves around himself rather than a more observational approach, it is a method that shows off his characteristic grumpiness to its best, bringing out the inner cynic in us all – even if you have to question exactly how much of the scepticism is part of a cultivated stage persona.
Ranganathan’s set ends on a Q&A encore – one which aims to ‘spin gold’ out of irreverent questions from the audience, but his reliance upon crowd work feels lazy at points and ultimately falls a bit flat when the questions turn out to be insufficient material with which to spin this elusive gold. A final big laugh would have been a welcome finish to an otherwise successful routine, but the end is, nevertheless, all too soon when the comedian ultimately leaves the stage.