Comedian Romesh Ranganathan on what Dubai can expect from his show

The TV star is heading to Dubai in March

Comedian Romesh Ranganathan on what Dubai can expect from his show

If you’re a fan of British comedy you’ll be familiar with Romesh Ranganathan.

The UK comedian has become a household name, having appeared on shows including A League of Their Own, Would I Lie To You, The Last Leg and Have I Got News For You, as well as his own docu-comedy show Just Another Immigrant.

And now he’s coming to Dubai for a show at Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday March 20.

Ranganathan hasn’t performed in Dubai before, and is looking forward to seeing if Dubai’s as “luxurious” as he’s heard.

And as Dubai is known for hosting some top comedy names – Michael McIntyre, Jo Koy, Russell Peters and Jason Manford are just a few to have played here in the past year – he says the pressure’s on with a “comedy-savvy crowd”.

“I do get nervous and worried about how it will be received. With comedy, if people don’t like it, they’ll really hate it,” he admits. “Comedy angers people. When they don’t find something funny they get really annoyed. But even if I’m nervous, I’m getting paid to mess around – I’m not a doctor or a nurse saving lives – it’s the best job in the world.”

But how do crowds change around the world? “I always enjoy playing in Glasgow – I’m probably jinxing it now – but the crowd are always really up for it. I’ll do a show and have a great gig and I’ll be like ‘I’m really good!’ and then I’ll go somewhere else and it’ll be like, ‘Ah, I’m really terrible’. I’m hoping Dubai is the Middle Eastern version of Glasgow.”

Last time Ranganathan did a tour was three years ago, so fans can expect to see a show based on all the things that have “annoyed” him since then.

“The show is half about family life and half about the issues of the world,” he explains. “You won’t be surprised to hear that I talk about veganism, as vegans like to bang on about that... The new show is a smörgåsbord of topics.”

Ranganathan has been a vegan for seven years, and says that as the trend grows it’s becoming much easier to find meals on tour.

“It used to be hard, especially as comedians work nights and eat late,” he says. “Travelling can be tough too – I went to Mongolia and they don’t recognise veganism at all there. I had to take these freeze-dried pouches that you add water to and they turn into spaghetti – or something that’s meant to be spaghetti.

“But I’m trying to lose weight – doing that intermittent fasting thing – but I’m failing miserably. I’m trying not to eat after shows but what’s actually happening is we’re having a curry every night. It’s 150 shows, so 150 days of curry – I’m not sure that’s too good for me.”

A tour takes around three or four months to work up, he says. Usually he’ll do about ten minutes and try it out at a club to see how it works, then build on it.

“I write every day so there’s new stuff all the time – the start of the tour will be different to the end of the tour. It’s like a living and breathing thing,” he says. “I note it all down in my phone – the only problem is a lot of the time I can’t understand what I’ve written. I have something in there now that says ‘tiger escape’ and I have no idea what it’s about.”

So he’s used to having audiences in stitches, what makes the funnyman laugh?

“My wife falling over – that’s funny. My kid stumbling around the living room with a VR headset on – that’s hilarious. I love stand-up though – Dave Chappelle, John Richardson, Jack Dee, those kind of names,” he says.

Ranganathan’s CV lists TV, stand-up shows, tours and even writing a book. But he says nothing compares to stand-up.

“I love TV, but inevitably there will be a time when I’m not on it as much, but I’ll always have stand-up,” he says. “I love panel shows – as it’s not about making jokes. I really enjoyed working on Taskmaster too [where comedians have to do the same task and compare how they tackle it].

“I opened an envelope and it said, ‘go in the next room, you’ll find a watermelon and you have to eat as much of it as possible in 60 seconds’. In my head it was hard like a coconut – so I smashed it on the floor. It went everywhere – I was there scooping it off the floor into my mouth. Turned out everyone else was eating it sensibly, pulling it apart, cutting it with a knife...”

And what’s it like working with other comedians? Are they as we see on TV?

“Some are exactly as they seem, others turn it on for the camera,” he says. “Lee Mack is constantly firing off jokes on Would I Lie To You and he’s like that in real life too.”

As a comedian is there certain pressure to make people laugh? “Yes,” he says. “I was out with my wife recently and some guy came up and was like ‘tell me a joke’. Taxi drivers are the worst – because the first question is ‘what do you do?’, so now I just say something boring that they don’t want to hear about.”

We can’t wait to see what the former maths teacher has calculated for us next week.
From Dhs295. Fri Mar 20. Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road.

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