English-born and of Sri Lankan heritage, Romesh Ranganathan sometimes feels like an outsider. In Irrational, he turned the accompanying perspective into good slabs of audience amusement. Through this somewhat narky show for ages 16+ (due to a little bad language), the audience were treated to some non-standard views on a range of topics.
From starting out as a mathematics teacher, Ranganathan has received nominations for various awards in the past few years. Australian audiences may have seen his work on UK tv shows including Would I Lie To You or Live at the Apollo. Whilst Ranganathan reuses some material from the latter, there’s still plenty of new irrationality here to enjoy.
The inclinations that led to Ranganathan’s past professional life may inform this show. I enjoyed an analytical bent that informed his opinions and made his insights fresh. Examples included good reasons for joining ISIS based on our modern obsession with convenience, and practical reasons why he hasn’t been unfaithful to his wife.
With a face framed by a trimmed beard and glasses, Ranganathan made good use of his features to emphasise his intentions. After dropping some nasty line, say about his three kids (seven, five and two years old), he would snap into the sort of fierce toothy smile you could imagine on a hyena.
His surliness came and went, as did the barbs towards audience members who laughed a little too vigorously at the performer’s self-deprecation. Yet, we never dwelled here long enough for this to become overplayed. Through touches such as this, Ranganathan differentiates himself from many on the circuit. He’s clearly spent time thinking about his stage persona and how to avoid rehashing the same old topics.
Ranganathan mentioned that his parents didn’t introduce him to their Tamil language and culture, and now his mother publicly mocks his ignorance. The section was well-received, and was also a nice little ad for his series with Mum Asian Provocateur. Those looking to squeeze a little more comedy into MICF 2017 might like to check this out.
While the show lacked some of the links and complexities of top-flight stand-up, it still stands above many at MICF 2017. It’s worth remembering that Ranganathan has only been in professional comedy for five years. MICF has added two more shows to this limited season. Judging by such approval, it’s not so Irrational to expect that this show will be a standout for many punters.
Romesh Ranganathan – Irrational
The Pavilion – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performance: Wednesday 19 April 2017 – 8.30pm
Season continues to 23 April 2017
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Romesh Ranganathan (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte