Comic book Romesh Ranganathan was forced to face a few truths about his marriage during the lockdown.
The 42-year-old star hangs out a lot with his wife and children as the crisis temporarily paralyzes his stand-up tour and global TV shows.
“People talk about the first thing they’ll do when the lockdown ends. I think mine might need to buy another property, or at least rent one, just to give my family a few months off, ”he jokes.
Even the garage, in which the bearded vegan sometimes disappears to give his suffering family a breather, is forbidden.
It’s now a makeshift studio where the former math teacher is filming the return of his current BBC Two comedy show The Ranganation.
The series shows the star with 20 members of the audience, called “The Ranganation”, who take a “lateral and up-to-date look at modern Britain”.
It’s back for season two after the first part was a hit – only this time it’s from home because of the social distancing.
“Filming the show in the garage was a problem,” admits Ranganathan, “because I spent all the time thinking that my relationship with my wife was working even when I was away so much.
“Now we’ve realized it’s because (we were separated)!
“Now we’re together all the time, the shine really fell off me, for my children and my wife.”
In normal times, Ranganathan went to the workshop “for the good of my family” so that they could “get a break from me,” “says the father of three boys.
“Now we don’t even have that! So I feel sorry for my family. You are trapped with me. It is terrible for them.
“I’m very good at small doses. I’d describe myself as disgusting at large doses!”
Ranganathan is also known for his travel show Misadventures, in which he goes on vacation to places that are definitely outside of his comfort zone.
“My wife said, ” You’ll still be doing travel shows when we get out and you’re gone, right? ”” Says Ranganathan.
The comic, which had previously flirted with a career as a rapper under the name Ranga, not only had been preparing for the return of its TV show, but thought it would learn to DJ during the pandemic.
But that doesn’t work so well.
“I find hobbies rather difficult because I don’t have the patience,” he says.
When I suspected the lockdown was going to happen, I thought I was going to learn to DJ. I said to my wife, ” I buy a lot of DJ equipment ”
“She said, ” This is a great idea, you should do that. ””
It turned out that Leesa thought he was kidding.
“So we brought the DJ equipment into the garage because she didn’t want it in the house,” he says.
“She doesn’t want what little respect she has left to dissipate by watching me shuffling around in a midlife crisis and trying to learn to DJ.
“Now that they are using the garage for the show, all of the stuff has moved back in. It’s a nightmare.”
As any Ranganathan fan will know, another great relationship in his life is the one he has with his mother.
Shanthi stole his thunder, even if he’s reluctant to admit it, after making a “little cameo” on one of his TV shows.
She also appears in The Ranganation, along with a “cockney geezer”, the “daughter of a minister” and others who represent a “cross section of modern Britain”.
It can “put me down and really pierce any kind of ego” and “disembowel me without fear of a comeback,” says the regular panel show.
The pandemic made him think differently about their relationship.
“I thought of calling my mom as something you should do,” he says. “Not that I don’t like talking to my mother, but you’re trapped in life.”
Now the situation has reminded him “how good it is to talk to people and get involved”.
The connection with his mother, who still prepares “care packages” of Sri Lankan food for her son and just lives “down the street”, does not always go according to plan.
“I talk to my mother on the phone every day and we also started zooming occasionally,” he says.
“But my mom has absolutely no idea where the camera is. I can chat with her chin for an hour.”
On The Ranganation, the comic and its panel – which this time can be seen virtually from home – talk about everything from front page news to smaller stories.
Memorable conversations from the first series included a debate about washing legs in the shower – “a lot more people than I thought just let their legs off the drain,” he says, and adults snuggle up with a stuffed animal.
This time around, coronavirus is dominating the headlines, but Ranganathan says they’ll be talking about a “mixture of things”.
Sometimes on these current shows you worry about messing around with things, but this one it’s the opposite problem, “he says.” There’s too much.
He won’t shy away from comedy despite testing times, but hopes it won’t get him into trouble.
“It’s a particularly British thing to use humor to navigate the things we go through,” he says.
“Every now and then I really let myself into the horror of the situation and get into a kind of panic spiral and can easily freak out.
“And I think it’s a nice form of escapism to talk about carefree.
“There’s the old stereotype that comedy is tragedy plus time. We don’t have that time. The show is going through it because we’re doing it in lockdown.
“You have to be aware of the situation,” he says, adding that he knows, “you don’t always get it right”.
“If I don’t get it right, they’ll probably suppress it in the edit – otherwise God help me on Twitter when it comes out,” he says.