Reviewer: Craig Unadkat
Romesh Ranganathan has fast become one of Britain’s most ubiquitous comics. From his time on various panel shows to his sitcom on Sky One (among a litany of other TV achievements), Ranganathan is without a doubt one of the busiest entertainers around. His overwhelmingly sold-out tour of Romesh Ranganathan: The Cynic’s Mixtape visited Brighton Dome and this reviewer had to see if the magic that’s made him such a comical TV phenomenon translates well in a live format. Spoiler alert, it does.
You enter the room to the sound of old school hip-hop remixes, no doubt some cherry-picked from Ranganathan’s comedy podcast Hip-Hop Saved My Life. You’re then promptly greeted by the shows initial act Jen Brister. Brister does an incredible job of getting the audience on side immediately. Her decision to take a rather bellicose, non-PC approach to what are nowadays fairly sensitive subjects, which she broached in her 20-minute stint on stage, was ultimately the correct one. Her razor-sharp wit and clever self-deprecating humour aid in the effortless overachieving of her role as a warm-up act and set up for Ranganathan’s initial jokes; they compliment each other nicely.
Ranganathan covers a lot of ground in his time on stage. He talks about his wife and children, fondly… as well as not so. He covers social media pitfalls and racism in football. He makes the audience wonder whether or not Michael Jackson’s music can be listened to without having to consider the connotations of his problematic behaviour and even finds time throughout all this to poke fun at Piers Morgan. None of the material is particularly groundbreaking, yet somehow each section is consistently met with eruptions of laughter.
A lot of the reason for this lies in his style of rhetoric. The way he performs bares striking resemblance to simply having a joke with a mate. He’s like the Lewis Capaldi of comedy, creating incredible work yet all the while being completely down-to-earth. What you end up watching is a funny yet genuine guy talking mostly about some issues he has in his life and that creates a connection with an audience quite quickly and after this connection is established, the comedy flows very easily.
Ranganathan appears to have two succinct styles of comedy that he uses within the show. One is a very dry, deadpan sense of humour aided in creation by a sense of ruthless pragmatism in his thought process, for example when he talks about how he was angry that his child was rewarded with ice cream by his wife after being lost on a beach. The other is an animated storytelling aspect of performance, whereby he takes the audience on a journey through the subject he’s talking about rather than talking about or around it. This combination of deadpan humour, vivid realist storytelling and his ability to deftly switch between the two, create a show that is both relatable and accessible as well as being absolutely hilarious.
The performance is tied up at the end with Ranganathan performing from his child’s point of view. He uses this device to sum up everything that he’s covered throughout the night, it’s clever and allows the audience to take in each section a second time, eliciting a kind of nostalgic feeling, like you’re in on the joke this time.
Reviewed on 24 September 2019 | Image: Andy Hollingworth