Romesh Ranganathan, Rob Auton - Mark Muldoon's Comedy Diary

Romesh Ranganathan. Credit: Alex Lake

Congratulations to Romesh Ranganathan, then, whose career has now reached the level - Taylor Swift-style - where he gets his own custom-made microphone and mic stand. It's a lovely red combination. Honestly, if you were in his position you'd want one too.

This new tour - Hustle - starts out with him burnishing his feminist credentials to an extent, detailing the depressing abuse he received online when he supported a campaign encouraging men to call out their mates if they're disrespectful towards women. It's always great to hear a comedian of Ranganathan's profile explicitly state such views in their shows, though a slight sense of mixed messages does creep in, when, just ten minutes earlier, his warm up DJ gives a big 'shout out' to convicted domestic abuser Dizzee Rascal.

Elsewhere, he recounts playing football on TV whilst filming a show with Rob Beckett, detailing how one of his kids is being bullied at school for how bad a player he was in the programme. You feel for the kid, but much later on in the evening Ranganathan recounts a particularly embarrassing story about one of his kids (it's not made clear which one) using a hotel bidet. Which does somewhat leave you thinking 'well if you had a child being bullied about the football thing, I really hope no school mates of the bidet-child ever see this material as they will never ever let them forget it'.

Romesh Ranganathan. Credit: Andy Hollingworth

In the grand scheme of the show, consider these both relatively minor quibbles. Much of what you're looking for from a new Ranganathan tour is here. He's grumpy about the Netflix Beckham documentary, he's grouchy about how often deliveries from Uber Eats etc go wrong. Then, to vary the tone a little, he talks of admiring Marmite (it's not the show's finest moment, and actually makes you wish for a swift return to the grumpiness again).

Many comedians, meanwhile, would construct their whole show around less impactful revelations than what Ranganathan mentions here - that he's considered suicide in the past. Tonight, he perhaps wisely avoids taking that route: it's practically a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, a very good thing to briefly mention in the show, but one which he doesn't allow to detract from the comic momentum of the performance.

There's ample comic highlights. He successfully manages to make a case for child labour. Him and his wife holiday with friends, and you may be surprised to hear that it's not an unbridled success. He discusses the pains of being a classic introverted man married to a seemingly highly extroverted woman. He comments on how happy women usually are when they see each other. If there's nothing here that truly threatens to bring the house down, it's still an inarguably high-quality 1hr 45mins (not including interval) that will keep him in customised tour paraphernalia for some time yet.

Rob Auton. Credit: Julian Ward

Back in 2012, Rob Auton performed a show all about the colour yellow, and called it The Yellow Show. A year later, he then followed it up with a show called The Sky Show, which was about the broadcasting and telecommunications company (okay not really, it was about the sky, not Sky). He continued this somewhat rigid format, subsequently basing his shows on faces, water, sleeping, hair, talking, time and crowds.

Reflecting on the concept of crowds (in 2022's The Crowd Show) was certainly a nice thing to do post-lockdown. The show about time, meanwhile, included the line "the watch is the wristband to the festival of punctuality", which is a turn of phrase enjoyable enough that it earns a retelling in this latest show, which is all about Rob Auton. He's decided to title the show The Rob Auton Show.

That wristbands line is pretty indicative of what you'll find at both a Rob Auton show, and The Rob Auton Show. It's going to be unfailingly funny, sure, but prepare to also be swept up by just how gorgeously poetic it all is. That's also the case when he veers into other topics, as well. You might previously have considered it too difficult to be both funny and poetic on an everyday topic such as vapes, but Auton manages exactly that here.

Even the more straightforward storytelling moments will be generously studded with lovely turns of phrase. Think of him as the comedy equivalent of a BBC 6 Music artist, basically. Big Thief or Phoebe Bridgers or The National. Somebody like that. If that sounds up your street, you're really going to love this show.

Read previous editions of this column (featuring John Robins, Rosie Jones, Guz Khan, The Unfriend (starring Lee Mack) and the top 50 comedy shows of 2023).

Mark Muldoon is also available on Instagram and Twitter. He couldn't write two jokes about the colour yellow, let alone a whole hour of them.

Share this page