Romesh Ranganathan admits he's 'not proud' of his 'racist' early material

Romesh Ranganathan performs during the Teenage Cancer Trust comedy night, at the Royal Albert Hall, London. (Photo by Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty Images)
Romesh Ranganathan at a Teenage Cancer Trust comedy night at the Royal Albert Hall, London. (Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty Images)

Comedian Romesh Ranganathan has said he’s “not proud” of the jokes he used in his first ever stab at comedy - labelling the material “racist”.

The star revealed in a candid chat with Jay Rayner that he put on an accent and told jokes about Irish people when he first took to stage.

The 42-year-old said how his introduction to stand-up comedy happened when he participated in a talent show while on holiday at Pontins – at the age of nine.

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He told restaurant critic Rayner on his Out To Lunch podcast: "Do you know what, I stole so much of that material from this joke book that I had at the time and in that joke book was loads of racist jokes.

"It was so bad but it didn't occur to me at the time. I don't know what I was thinking – I basically did it in my dad's accent, which I gave no reason for. I don't know if I thought racism was more acceptable if it was coming from an immigrant.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 31:  Romesh Ranganathan performs during the Underbelly Press Launch at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe on July 31, 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Photo by Scott Campbell/Getty Images)
Romesh Ranganathan at the Underbelly Press Launch at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013. (Scott Campbell/Getty Images)

"I think the truth is that I thought my dad's accent was funny. It's pretty bad really.

"There's two levels of racism to that – the Irish stuff and then the fact that I just thought a Sri Lankan accent was funny.

"It's the first time I've reflected on that and I've got to be honest with you, I'm not proud of it."

Speaking of his first attempt to be a comedian in a column written for Guardian in 2018, Ranganathan confirmed he won the contest despite the questionable material.

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He wrote: “I won the Pontins competition. There were only two other contestants, and one was a girl playing a kazoo. But at least she was performing her own material.

“I can’t remember what the other guy did. I didn’t care, because this fat Asian kid reading out loud in a fake accent blew them both out of the water.”

Raynor’s Out To Lunch podcast is available to stream online now.