By Reena Kumar
SINCE making his debut in 2010, Romesh Ranganathan has built a strong following across the UK and earned several industry accolades. He has written for and supported a number of high-profile comedians including Ricky Gervais and Bill Burr and in 2015 premiered his own BBC3 show, Asian Provocateur.
Moving from teaching to comedy was quite a career change; what inspired it?
One day I just realised how unrewarding it was to help children.
Who are you inspired by?
My younger brother has a work ethic that I find very inspiring. I would admire him if he wasnât mumâs favourite.
Where do you source the material for your shows?
I sit around and watch my family. I warn them that if they donât do anything interesting we wonât be able to pay the mortgage.
How does your wife feel about you describing your second child as a âlittle a***holeâ on national television?
She says itâs not fair as heâs actually getting a bit bigger now.
How do you feel about your motherâsÂ newly found fame after her appearance
in Asian Provocateur?
Iâm not jealous. It just annoys me that she has got famous without having to do any work for it. Yes I am jealous.
How would you describe your relationship with your mum Shanthi?
My mum and I wear our hearts on our sleeves but we are very close. My mum went through great hardship bringing us up and I will never forget that. I owe her everything. But she texts me too much.
Can we expect any other programmes with her?
My mum has unfortunately reached the point where she is getting offers without me. So youâd have to ask her agent, who is also my agent. But she wonât tell me.
There arenât many Asians in mainstream comedy andÂ those who are get accused of focusing on their race. WhyÂ do you think that is?
They donât focus on race all the time, thatâs a myth. And even if they did, why shouldnât they? As a comic, you should be able to talk about whatever you want. Personally, I think there are too many Asian comedians â it is eroding my USP.
Do you think itâs important to see more diversity in theÂ arts and entertainment world?
I think enforced diversity at the top end is a quick fix that leads to resentment. I would like to see steps taken to see more diversity from the ground up, so that it is no longer âbook a brown or a black or a woman or a gay for this show quicklyâ but the system means that we have these people properly represented as a matter of course.
I think this should apply behind the scenes too. The lack of diversity in production is a bloody joke. I have met one black and one Asian director since I started doing this and that was at one of the secret âminorities in entertainmentâ meetings we have every month. The food is incredible.
What would you say to encourage aspiring comediansÂ into the industry?
There are too many comics â please give up. But if you must continue, write lots, gig lots and be easy to work with. The rest is luck. But mainly, give up.
You have said before that you donât see yourself as successful â why is that?
Because success in comedy is fragile and transient. And it makes you constantly feel like a fraud. I spend every day waiting for my agent to call me and say: âRom, theyâve
found out youâre s*** â itâs over.â
Finally, what exciting projects are you working on?
Every time I mention something in the pipeline in an interview, it doesnât end up happening. So Iâm planning on giving up comedy and going back to teaching.