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Review: Live at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury with comedian Romesh Ranganathan

“My son is stood at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World holding a lightsaber and wearing a Jedi cloak, but gets unhappy when his mum and I say no to buying him a new jacket.”

Romesh Ranganathan is a middle-aged man at a reflective stage of life, analysing each and every detail of his orbit to understand purpose and happiness.

Romesh Ranganathan was at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury on Thursday and Friday
Romesh Ranganathan was at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury on Thursday and Friday

The 45-year-old’s latest stand-up show ‘Hustle’ comes four years after he took to the stage for previous hit, The Cynics Mixtape.

Yet his latest stop on the new tour’s journey took the Crawley man to a fully-packed Marlowe Theatre on a bitterly-cold Friday night in Canterbury.

The show kicks off in traditional Ranganathan style with some hip-hop classics pulsating the room’s four walls. Luther Vandross’s ‘Never Too Much’ and ‘I Wish’ by rapper Skee-Lo are just two of the tunes people are having a boogie to as bodies enter their seats.

When the music stops, a round of applause ensues when the father-of-three walks on stage. And it takes just minutes before he takes a dig at the geography of his audience. “Not my kind of people,” he jokes was his first impression when arriving in Canterbury.

Similar deadpan comments continue as Ranganathan works his way up to much heavier roasts about the likes of Lawrence Fox, and, in particular, one heckler who finds out why taking on a comedian is never a good idea. Two shout-outs inside the first 10 minutes, the unfortunate culprit is never heard again after Ranganathan makes a mockery of her infernal jeers via the use of a light-hearted, albeit well-received expletive.

The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury
The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury

As the show continues, The Ranganation host mixes his routine by sharing cleverly-worked personal experiences alongside some short witty remarks. Replacing Anne Robinson as presenter of The Weakest Link, he claims the job “only came about due to my lazy eye looking like a wink.”

But it is tales of his own journey which resonate best with the 1,200-capacity crowd, as family becomes one of the key themes explored throughout the evening. His love for his wife Leesa is clear - despite a significant proportion of his material playfully baiting her.

Declaring he wished his wife engaged in polyamorous activities with friends - rather than finding out she had invited them on holiday - went down particularly well with couples in the audience as they smiled towards their significant other.

Further gags at occasionally yearning to have fewer friends, trying to think of new excuses for cancelling plans, plus craving a cut-off time for when people come over for dinner parties also brought about a rasp of approval.

His short reference to a vegan lifestyle was perhaps slightly redundant given its use at previous shows, although Romesh closes the segment out brilliantly by insisting people will never know how hard it is working at KFC for six years while being a vegetarian.

The audience had the joy of listening to hip-hop classics prior to the show starting. Picture: Joe Harbert
The audience had the joy of listening to hip-hop classics prior to the show starting. Picture: Joe Harbert

The jests highlight a comedian at the top of his game, with deep subjects such as depression being followed by stories of his children unknowingly using a bidet as a toilet. The linkage from the serious to the profound keeps you immersed in an unpredictable state of ardour all night.

A brief discussion of online buying is also well-written as the show reaches its climax. Upon admitting he dislikes purchasing goods from controversial companies like Amazon, Ranganathan notes: “But buying a kite or a whoopsie cushion and having it delivered the next day is just too convenient.”

Likewise, his frustration with football fans for over-celebrating ‘their’ team’s performances also goes down well. Despite being an Arsenal fan, his contempt for a 56-year-old man wearing a football shirt and screaming at a goal whilst pretending to be Bukayo Saka is also simply, but cleverly, expressed.

Such material made up a show amounting to two hours in total. The only pause throughout Ranganathan’s performance came via a 15-minute interval at the halfway stage.

An immediate hit on the play button for more R&B records ensued, with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song leading to a carnival atmosphere briefly breaking out.

It was book-ended by an outstandingly-scripted performance for which those in attendance were no doubt maxin’ and relaxin’ to an evening of constant comedy gold.

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