Painful experiences can help you become a better comic, says Romesh Ranganathan

Romesh Ranganathan has said painful experiences can help you become a better comedian as he reflected on the challenges he experienced in his youth.

He told the Changes With Annie Macmanus podcast his life “kind of got turned upside down” when he was at secondary school after his family home was repossessed, his parents’ relationship was thrown into turmoil and his father was sent to prison.

He said his parents had been “obsessed” with the idea of sending their children to private school when they arrived in the UK from Sri Lanka, and “wanted to give us the best chances”.

House of Fraser BAFTA TV Awards 2016 – Arrivals – London
House of Fraser BAFTA TV Awards 2016 – Arrivals – London

He said that over a six-month period when he was around the age of 12, three major events occurred.

“One was that our house got repossessed because my mum and dad couldn’t keep up the payments any more,” he said.

“My mum also found out that my dad had been seeing another woman for quite a while, so their relationship was thrown into turmoil.

“My dad got arrested and sent to prison. Those three things happened very, very quickly.”

Ranganathan said he ended up living in a bed and breakfast while still at private school.

“I absolutely did not want anyone at the school to find out this has happened because they already think that I’m working class.”

Ranganathan said that Richard Pryor, who he said is his favourite comedian, “was gifted with this sort of horrendous kind of pain in his childhood that just forged his genius”.

Why Not People? launch – London
Why Not People? launch – London

Ranganathan added he would not have ended up as a comedian if it was not for the pain he had gone through earlier in his life.

“You look at the very best comedians, the people that really, really have changed it or are amazing at what they do, and they’re just wired slightly incorrectly,” he said.

“The best comedy routine is when somebody takes something you know and looks at in a completely different way.

“And in order to be able to do that, you have to have a brain that is wired like that.

“That is what pain does, it kind of spins you out a little bit, kind of puts you in a different mindset.”