Romesh Ranganathan reveals why he used to ‘go and sit in toilet cubicle and cry’
RMeeting late on a Monday night, in a soulless room, while a sweet lady in a tabard frantically cleans up water that’s flooding the floor following a pipe leak, we’d say Romesh was a little underwhelmed by the interview location.
If he wasn’t in a permanently underwhelmed state anyway.
‘Have you been given a warm can of Coke too? Oh good, no expense spared,’ he says in that deadpan style we love oh-so-much.
He’s been filming a new TV advert for the brand new series of Judge Romesh, (basically a ridiculous and completely non-legal version of Judge Judy where Romesh uses his no-nonsense charm to solve very minor, but very real, disputes), and when he reclines in his chair draped in his judge’s robe teamed with box-fresh trainers, we get the feeling he knows he looks pretty powerful. And he likes it.
The former teacher burst on the scene back in 2013 when he became
a panel show regular, but he really found fame when he teamed up with his mum to discover his roots in Sri Lanka in the hilarious series, Asian Provocateur.
He begrudgingly admits his mum was the breakout star.
‘It’s just her having a go at me and me taking it. Anything for an easy life.’
A hip-hop fanatic (his music bursts out from his phone half-way through our chat), Romesh is super-busy these days, filming his TV shows (including A League Of Their Own and Ranganation), and he lives in his beloved Crawley with wife Leesa and his three kids, Alex, Theo and Charlie.
Romesh (with bucket-loads of bad language and cynicism) talks burping, crying and embarrassing his kids…
Are your new-found judging abilities helping you win arguments at home?
In the 10 years I’ve been with my wife we’ve probably argued twice.
But we do have disagreements.
I tend to overreact and be convinced that I’m right, and after a bit of reflection I’m like, ‘Oh sh*t, I see it from her point of view.’
But the couple of times I have been right – I have not let that go.
Who’s good cop and bad cop with the kids?
My wife sees the kids more than I do because I work so much.
So when I’m at home I don’t want to be the guy who’s laying down the law.
So if my wife goes out, I’ll come home early.
She tells me they’re in their PJs ready for bed.
Then as soon as she leaves I say, ‘We’re not going to bed guys.’
So you’re a fun dad?
It’s because I want to spend time with them.
It is selfish, because I’m then at work the next day, so my wife has to deal with the repercussions of them having not had enough sleep.
But I don’t give a sh*t about those rules.
What are your parenting rules?
I worry about them being too spoilt.
If your kids ask for something and you can get them that thing, it’s amazing.
But I don’t want that stuff to come too easily.
My wife will get them plastic pieces of crap from gift shops and I don’t think they need it.
She says, ‘It’s only cheap,’ but they have no idea what money is.
I just don’t want them to be pr*cks.
Do they think you have a cool job?
They don’t watch anything I do, nor do they find anything I do funny.
So the idea I’m getting paid to do comedy baffles them.
My eldest son is nine and he’s starting to approach that age now where he doesn’t want to be seen with us.
I said to him, ‘Dude, as dads go, I’m one of the f***ing coolest.’
I didn’t say f***ing.
Just sounded cool then.
See, I am cool.
We think you’re cool…
Well, yes I said to him, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are.
If you want to take it for granted and bin me off that’s up to you, mate.’
But my dad used to embarrass the sh*t out of me.
He would do the gardening in these awful shorts which were jeans he’d cut, but the pockets were longer than the legs.
Then he’d come and pick me up from school in them.
It would be so humiliating, but he enjoyed it.
So I’m just going to own it.
Do your children embarrass you?
They used to when the young ones would kick off in public.
But I’m bulletproof now.
You can’t give them what they want to stop them from kicking off.
You have to ride it out.
I just walk off.
I say, ‘Do whatever performance art you’re doing here and I’ll walk away and we can have a chat about it later.’
I just tell them they’re embarrassing themselves.
Is it constant selfie requests now?
I never mind.
We went to a theme park and these two blokes came up and asked for a pic.
Then they tweeted me the pic and I looked so fat in it.
I thought I looked a certain way, and when I saw the truth it darked me out for the rest of the day.
I asked my wife if that was what I looked like and she said yes.
I was under the impression I looked alright, but I looked like a right fat Fred.
Do you get left alone in your beloved Crawley?
Yeah, they leave me to it.
The only thing I can’t do is go out there in the evening.
I was having a few drinks with some mates when these guys wanted photos.
And they asked if they could join me for the night. Erm, no?
We’re all strangers.
Or people do this thing where they try to be cool by telling you they don’t know who you are but their ‘friend’ does.
You’re very loyal to Crawley. Will you ever move?
I love Crawley, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.
In fact, don’t move there.
We were in LA for six months doing a TV series year before last, and objectively speaking where we lived was better than Crawley.
Five minutes from Universal Studios, it was sunny, we had a pool, it was textbook the dream.
But I still came back!
It’s better than Hollywood.
Is your mum enjoying her new-found fame?
Oh Christ, yeah. We didn’t expect the show to be that popular.
My mum didn’t expect to start getting recognised, and if we get recognised together she particularly enjoys it.
She says, ‘Oh my God, it makes my heart so proud I want to jump!’
She denies she loves the fame, but I’m telling you she loves it.
What were you like growing up?
My dad went to prison for fraud and we got our house repossessed, so there was some turbulence in my childhood years and I stopped giving a sh*t.
Faking letters from home and bunking off.
I just get bored of things so easily.
I was a teacher before comedy, but it was good because no two days were the same, which this job is too.
Every time I think I’m good at comedy I die on my a*se, so that keeps me on my toes.
You must have drive now, to have become so successful…
If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t work hard.
It’s such a privileged thing to say, but I’m still that same lazy person!
If I had to do something else I’d immediately revert back to that guy who barely turns up.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Telling Air New Zealand how much their lasagnes would cost.
I used to hate that job.
And once I went to the toilet and I just sat in the cubicle and cried.
I got up, went to my desk and felt loads better.
So from then on, every six to seven weeks I’d take myself off and think, ‘Time for that cry’.
Eventually I realised I can’t survive by having a depressed cry every few weeks.
What’s the one thing you would change about yourself?
I wish I was more considerate.
I don’t give a sh*t if someone doesn’t remember my birthday.
I think everyone is the same as me, but no, people get upset if you don’t call them back.
It isn’t because I don’t care for people, I just wish I was better.
It gets on my t*ts, but I do get where they’re coming from.
What’s your pet hate?
The trend for being super positive on social media.
When people say, ‘I was so proud of myself today!’ I’d rather read, ‘Oh, mate, I had a dreadful day! I f***ed something up. I was crap at this and I feel ashamed of myself.’
More people can relate to that.
What are the best and worst things about fame?
The best is meeting your heroes.
I have a hip-hop podcast and get to meet all these rappers I love, so I feel very lucky.
The worst side is you are being judged a lot.
My mate Seann Walsh had that Strictly thing happen and someone tweeted him saying, ‘I hope he does a Tommy Cooper and dies on TV’, and I don’t get why people would say that?
If it all went away tomorrow what would you miss the most?
Oh, it will all stop soon.
In a year’s time it might even be all over.
It’s so fickle, this industry, and I’m aware of that.
But I don’t want to be so vanilla that everyone likes me, so I’m grateful to have people on side now.
I might do something terrible and nobody wants to touch me!
So let’s hope I don’t.
– Judge Romesh starts on Wednesday, 10pm, on Dave. The Ranganation starts tonght, BBC2, 9pm
Source: Read Full Article