The Spotlight on … Romesh Ranganathan

He used to do freestyle rap battles, now he’s Seann Walsh’s tour support – it’s only bloomin’ Romesh Ranganathan!

Romesh_Ranganathan1Where in London do you live?

I live in south south south south south south south south London. Crawley actually. It’s like a rubbish London tribute act.

How long have you been gigging for?
About two years, but I have been bringing hilarity to the lives of those less fortunate than myself all of my life. I am a giver.

What do we need to know about you?
I spend my days worrying that I am not funny enough to be doing what I’m doing, and my evenings trying to convince people that I am. I am currently having much fun doing tour support for Seann Walsh, being a resident compere at Komedia’s Comic Boom, and trying to establish myself enough that my Mum will stop having to lie about my career to people. I once slated Owen Hargreaves on Soccer AM and was subjected to a barrage of online abuse from a Man City fan. In terms of style, the word most used about me is probably “sardonic”. It has been used twice.

What do we not need to know about you, but you’re going to tell us anyway?
Seven years ago I reached the finals of a UK freestyle battle competition. And then got absolutely destroyed in the last round. The last line I uttered on stage was “Here be the Ranga (that was my rap name), rocking at the Scala, Bringing the heat like a chicken tikka masala.” A chicken tikka masala is not hot. Everyone knows that. A phall is extremely hot. That would have worked. But I would have had to have called it a “phalla” to make it rhyme. So I didn’t use that. These are the kind of snap decisions you have to make in the heat of battle. That decision cost me hugely that night. A different curry selection and I might have been a huge rapper. I used to see Professor Green at some of the battles. I could have been Lab Technician Brown or something.

Who makes you laugh?
Seann Walsh is exceptional and has been a hugely supportive influence. Mike Wilmot once made me laugh so much at a gig that I wanted him to stop talking, at a time when I thought that I didn’t laugh at comedy anymore. Also Richard Pryor, Louie CK and Dave Chappelle.

What do your family think of your act?
I used to run a gig at my Dad’s pub. I was compering and having a tough time. I needed a boost. As I closed the night and walked off the stage, my Dad (and you’ll need to read this in a Sri Lankan accent) said: “If you really want to do this, you need to step it up because that was pathetic.” Aside from the constructive criticism, they actually think it’s ok. Although my mum will say things like “Have you heard about this thing called Live at The Apollo – why aren’t you going on that?” or “Michael McIntyre seems to be making a lot of money, you should think about that.” They also think that I need to smile more on stage.

Where are your favourite parts of London?
I love Clapham. I used to go out there a lot. A friend of mine used to have a recording studio there, so we used to spend loads of time making spoof rap records, and then go out in Clapham. I once had a horrendous experience in the Clapham Grand where a toilet attendant started trying to engage in some banter with me while sitting on the toilet. I have a soft spot for Brixton as well, because I have spent so much time there going to watch live music. I was at a Nas concert once at the Academy and someone let off a gun. My brother told me I then behaved in the least street manner he has ever seen. I think that I might have even cried.

Do you have a celebrity doppelganger?
People say that I look like Krishnan Guru-Murthy might have done if things hadn’t worked out.

Do you have a secret talent?
My vegetarian lasagne, aside from the one incident of quite serious food poisoning, is excellent.

Are you funnier off or onstage?
Onstage I try to be funny. Offstage I spend my time masking my neuroses sufficiently enough to ensure that my family and friends are not scared away. That doesn’t make for a hilarious time. Although it is my behaviour before I started comedy that made my friends tell me that I should be doing stand-up.
Here’s a wee something Romesh did for Amnesty …

[youtube] You can catch Romesh at the many 99 Club venues around London, and you can get 2-4-1 tickets for 99 Club nights courtesy of Dave TV channel, click here for details.

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