Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Romesh Ranganathan – Rom Com at Underbelly, Bristo Square (Venue 300), reviewed by Jay Richardson
A self-declared “chubby vegan sociopath” whose wife would be better off leaving him, Romesh Ranganathan brilliantly channels his instinctive misanthropy into this impressive Fringe debut.
Socially spiky and angry in company, reluctant to engage with anyone, on the Tube, in the Post Office, or even with his own kids, he sums up Rom Com as a show about “watching television and waiting to die”. While acknowledging that he’s an awkward customer, especially at dinner parties with his diet, and a frequently clueless father when it comes to instilling discipline in and toilet training his offspring, his default setting is one of irritation.
I can’t remember the last time I caught a show with the insult “prick” reserved for such a cross-section of society.
So jaded is his worldview that he prefers his football team’s recent lack of success because it frees him of hope, just the sort of message you hope he delivered to his poor pupils when he was a teacher – although the hugely inappropriate send-off his school gave the second generation Sri Lankan Tamil when he left, mitigates his bad behaviour somewhat.
His wife’s frustrations with him and concerns about him warping their children are the bedrock of Ranganathan’s hour, but race profiling is something he’s both suffered from and exploited – one of the funniest anecdotes in a show rammed with them is the deflating episode in which another motorist abuses him for his weight rather than his ethnicity.
Despite his routine’s exceptionally high hit-rate, they unfold at a relaxed pace. This is assured storytelling that doesn’t require any overarching theme beyond “this is me, deal with it”.
Strikingly, so accomplished are Ranganathan’s implacable, sardonic dismissals of both deserving targets like the English Defence League and others that are considerably less so, that on the rarer occasions when he accepts blame, these admissions carry greater
punch than they otherwise might. The irony is, now that Romesh Ranganathan is finally out of the house, he’s great company, at least in a stand-up environment.
MORE INFO: Romesh Ranganathan – Rom Com is at Underbelly
Originally published in The Scotsman