Interview: Romesh Ranganathan On His New Tour Hustle, Why He Works So Hard And Managing Insecurity

Interview: Romesh Ranganathan On His New Tour Hustle, Why He Works So Hard And Managing Insecurity

Romesh Ranganathan is one of TV's most popular comedians, best known for The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, The Ranganation, Rob and Romesh Vs, Avoidance and as the host of The Weakest Link and A League Of Their Own. Now he is returning his first love of stand up with a brand new tour entitled Hustle. 

The former maths teacher is married with three sons and lives in Crawley. Below he talks about his show and how he gets the balance right between enjoying life and working hard.

Romesh Ranganathan's Hustle tour starts on January 20, 2024 and currently runs until June 8. Buy tickets here


Your new show is called Hustle. Can you tell me more about it?

Every show I do I try to be honest and I think this is my most honest show. Sometimes when you're trying to look for the comedic angle you exaggerate a viewpoint and I'm doing that less now. Hustle sits more closely to how I actually feel about things. In the past it was based in honesty, but taken to an extreme, like when I was really hard on my family. I don't want to be a comedian that slags off his wife, you know, but finding the comedic angle to really loving your wife is slightly tricky!


Your tour announcement says Hustle ‘examines the human condition’. That’s ambitious for a comedy…

One of the seeds was getting annoyed by this whole thing about the hustle culture of working too hard. And I know that sounds ironic coming from somebody that's been on fifteen TV shows in the last year, but I was thinking about whether working as hard as you possibly can and being successful at work, if that equals happiness. If you enjoy your work, that's great. But the whole idea of success at work being the be all and end all is something I disagree with. 


Has success brought you happiness? 

I've never experienced a jump in happiness as much as when I was first able to pay my bills with comedy, like being able to pay for the Tesco shop from jokes. That to me was mind blowing. But you get to a point where you go, what is my balance? I think lockdown helped me realise that the things that made me happiest were having breakfast with the kids or going away with them for a couple of days. I feel very happy. Whether my wife Leesa would say that manifests itself in me walking on air 24 hours a day is a different question! 


What your definition of hustle?

I think hustle is this whole idea of making every minute of every day count. Getting up at 6am and making a list of objectives and spending the day trying to achieve those objectives. You know, if you've got a spare hour, you need to be looking at how you're going to turn that into an opportunity, blah, blah, blah. That's what I kind of feel hustle is.


Some might say you are describing yourself...

But I wouldn't do all of these things that I do if I didn't really enjoy them. If I started to hate The Weakest Link I’d quit. But I do really enjoy all the things I'm doing. The Weakest Link is me making celebrities shit themselves by asking questions. I'm not trying to take over the world, there's no grand plan. I'm just trying to have as much of a laugh as I can.


How do you decide what projects to take on?

It’s a question I've wrestled with. The truth is that shows come in or I think of ideas. So for example, I did Romantic Getaway with Katherine Ryan and the BBC sitcom Avoidance because me and my mate created these shows, and we just thought it'd be cool to make them. When other stuff comes in I think will I be any good at this and will be fun? A League Of Their Own is walking into a studio and taking the piss out of footballers. That's not work.


Do you enjoy touring?

It's my favourite thing. This is a night with me and the people that want to come and hang out for the evening. And we're just going to have a great night. And I love the craft of stand up so much. And so just being able to do it every night. It's the most amazing thing. I’m opening the door into my world for 90 minutes – let's try and have as much of a laugh there as we can.


How do you feel about headlining at the 02 in front of 16,000 fans for the first time?

I'm going to make the show as good as I can. When you play bigger venues you have to be bigger in terms of physicality but at the O2 you can almost go the other way, because you've got screens. A facial expression can become a punchline there in a way it can’t couldn't in a big room. Let’s see. I might be talking to you next year and I'll go, ‘that was a mistake, wasn't it? I’ll never do that again!’


You seem to be both confident and insecure. I guess that’s typical for a comedian…

Definitely. I've managed to get the insecurity to be less crippling than it was. The difference is I now think what can I do about it if a bit in my set failed? I can work on it and make it better. Whereas before, I'd sit in the dressing room looking in the mirror just going ‘You're a fraud.’ I've learnt to manage it, but I don't want to get rid of it. Because I feel like it's a bit of my kind of creative engine.


How much has luck has played a part in your career?

I feel really lucky. I was ready to give up on a couple of occasions and then something happened. Like winning The Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year in 2013. I was on the phone to Leesa getting on the train and going ‘I don't know how much longer I can do this.' I thought I’ll just do the competition and stop. If I hadn't won I might have gone back to teaching. It’s these little things. I got Live at the Apollo because I was doing warm up for Seann Walsh and the right people saw me. I’ve been fortuitous. 


You've recently become a Comedy Icon for Teenage Cancer Trust. What does that involve?

I’d done the Teenage Cancer Trust gigs at the Royal Albert Hall. Cancer at any age is horrible, but particularly with young people. I wanted to do more. It's initially seeing what I can do to help out in terms of raising awareness, but also providing experiences for those who are affected and the people that support them like VIP backstage visits. It's a real privilege that my platform has enabled me to do this. 


You also work as a patron of suicide prevention charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) 

One of my friends took his own life. I looked at that and my own mental health struggles and I thought how can I help? I did  a couple of events and we gave CALM the money and and then we talked about me being a patron with the target of raising a million pounds in a year. It's also about getting people talking and recognising the signs of somebody being on a bad path or seeing the signs if you're on a bad path and reaching out for help. 


What do you want fans to take away after they see Hustle?

It's about the acceptance that we are all doing alright, that this kind of comparison of yourself to some sort of ideal that social media has contributed to, the hustle culture, that you've got to be smashing all things at all times is just not true. I think being alright is good, don't beat yourself up about it. I want people to come away feeling uplifted. I'm saying it's cool to be doing whatever you're doing.


For more about the Teenage Cancer Trust click here:

For more about CALM click here:


Picture by Alex Lake



Articles on beyond the joke contain affiliate ticket links that earn us revenue. BTJ needs your continued support to continue - if you would like to help to keep the site going, please consider donating.

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.