Romesh Ranganathan: Irrational
- Brian Donaldson
- 7 October 2016
This article is from 2016.
The Asian Provocateur star gets gleeful payback on those who bug him
In Romesh Ranganathan's worldview, an awful lot of humanity are 'bellends', 'pricks', 'knobheads' and 'arseholes'. As is clear during the two halves of this one-man assault on, well, just about everything, he's equally as harsh on himself. If something dares to exist, this former Maths teacher will find fault with it: we discover that he's not a fan of Wagamama, Android phone-users, Madonna's attempts to stay young, people who give false names in Starbucks and various members of his own family.
Specifically, he claims to have definite favourites within his own offspring (at one point he attempts to get another father in the audience to admit the same) and castigates his Sri Lankan mum for raining on his BBC Four parade in their odd-couple travelogue show, Asian Provocateur.
But on the off-chance that all this sounds like high and mighty posturing, Ranganathan shoots himself down with various attacks on his physical appearance (from a lazy eye to his protruding tummy). And in his script, at least, he can't even bring himself to be a vegan for moral reasons: it's simply that he cannot be bothered with choice.
For a couple of hours, Ranganathan is excellent company, his often sarcastic and occasionally belligerent approach to people and their irritating ways yielding plenty of laughs. There is, however, a slight lethargy in the first half which suggests that he might be, in Bill Hicks' words, 'plastering on a fake smile and ploughing through this shit one more time'. The energy levels take a tangible hike in the second section which is notable for slightly more topical material as he weighs into the American presidential race.
His Trump material might not be the definitive word on the Republican nominee, but it brings a fresh impetus which the opening sections might have lacked. Seeking to please an audience by continually projecting your own annoyance can be an awkward trick to pull off, but for the most part Romesh Ranganathan gleefully succeeds at tapping into his own irrational side.
Romesh Ranganathan: Irrational is on tour until Thu 8 Dec. Reviewed at Edinburgh Festival Theatre.