Romesh Ranganathan. Live Tour.
Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, April 2016
The last five years have seen Romesh Ranganathan's star rise heavenward at a rate of knots. In a relatively short space of time he has earned his spurs and honed his craft to a point where his stand-up looks effortless, his delivery and timing faultless and his material original but relateable. On this stage he definitely “smashed it bruv”, and it is clear he has quickly become used to smashing it on every level, be it sell-out stand-up nights, guesting on the telly or having another TV series of his very own.
This show was a lesson to some others in delivering value for money. He had a support act in the shape of the hugely entertaining Phil Jerrod, who delivered a tight and warming 20 minutes, but rather than then breaking for an interval after this opener Romesh took over and gave us a good 20 minutes himself before stopping for a break, after which he gave over an hour. He included an encore which is always nice to see, although inviting questions from the audience was not a high-point of the show, not least of which because this particular audience ran out of questions, leaving things a little flat. Perhaps if we had been warned earlier we might have thought of more things to ask. Recognising the feel of the room and not wanting to end on a whimper, Romesh pulled out a couple of minutes of reliable material from his previous show and brought the house down in suitable fashion.
His style treads a very fine, but for him instinctive, line between anger and absurdity. His television persona can sometimes be edited to show a very pissed-off man, generally moaning about the minutiae of life that irritates and annoys him, but in a live show he has the opportunity to temper that character with small but telling touches of humility and self-effacement that remind us that this is actually not an angry man standing before us, but a comedian and a very fine one at that, employing few one-liners, just comedic situations related with impeccable timing and facial expressioning. He decides to include a fair amount of audience participation, a tactic than can often backfire and seem like lazy writing, but on this evening he pulled it off superbly and rinsed the contributing member and his friends dry of all their bristling potential for comic ridicule. Then true to form, as much as he had derided and laughed at the hapless guy in row C, he massively applauded his good spirit at the end and thanked him deeply for joining in. What a nice bloke.
Hilarious. Funniest show of the year so far. But it is only April...