For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series – where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way – we’re posing some of the big questions to ROMESH RANGANATHAN.
The BAFTA-nominated, award-winning star of ‘Asian Provocateur’ has been touring with his show ‘Irrational’, including four sell-out nights at London’s Eventim Apollo, where he has recorded his first DVD.
In the show, Romesh explores the rationality of his worldview, examining the issues close to his heart, and explaining why everybody else is wrong about them.
To celebrate today’s release of the tour DVD, Romesh spoke to HuffPostUK about the benefit of failure, and the comedians he most aspires to emulate…
What do you do to switch off from the world?
I put on music. I keep my portable speaker with me. I put it on, and just disconnect. Nine times out of ten, it’s hip hop, although I like the mellow stuff, too.
How do you deal with negativity?
I normally hang out with my wife and kids, and try to de-stress. If I’m on tour, I’ll just go and hide myself in an X-box.
When and where are you at your happiest?
At home. I’m a homebody. I’m away so much, I crave that time. My family always want to go out when I’m there, and I’m horribly resistant to that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My dad told me, nothing really matters that much. Do the best you can, but don’t get stressed. Just carry on being the best you can.
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
Accept that you are going to be rubbish at something you care about initially. With comedy, you’re not going to slash every gig. Failing is part of success, because to have none is not good for your development. Take risks.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
You’ve got ages to figure out what it is you’re going to do. With my Asian background, I was always encouraged to sort it out quickly, but I’ve wavered on my path. I started out in finance, then I was a teacher, and finally I found stand-up. So don’t worry if you don’t get it right straight away. That exposure to other things means when your time comes, you’ll be better equipped to meet its demands.
What three things are at the top of your to-do list?
Become a really great stand-up, I’m not there yet. I aspire to Richard Pryor’s level of honesty;
Become a better dad than I am. When I’m tired, I get it wrong, and I think, I could have handled that better;
Be more considerate with my friends. I don’t get in touch, I’m hard to get in touch with. So I want to become a more effective mate.
What do you think happens when we die?
I don’t know. I was brought up by Hindu parents, so they believe in reincarnation. I find it hard to conceive of a place that everybody likes equally, so I struggle with a concept of heaven.
When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
Whenever we visit a place to worship, whatever the religion, I find the building is being charged up with energy.
What do you try to bring to your relationships?
I try to bring empathy to every exchange. I think if you can put yourself in the other person’s position, you immediately become more considerate and it makes the situation easier. I rarely get properly upset in the way I used to.
What keeps you grounded?
Knowing that I haven’t achieved my goal yet. I’m happy, I pay the bills, but there are people I know are just great, like Louis C.K. That level of unadulterated honesty is awe-inspiring.
What was the last act of kindness that you received?
Last night, I was on tour, and the support act realised I was hungry, and just disappeared. He’d run out to get me some food, and that meant an enormous amount.
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