‘The Cynic’ Review: Romesh Ranganathan Gets ‘Cynic’ In His New Stand-Up Special

Comedy has always been one of the few things in the media that can please the consumer instantly. It often stems from one’s personal experiences and works well if narrated with entertaining dramatics. Over the years, stand-up comedy has taken a stronghold in pleasing audiences with an hour or two of performances. Often, one could find slivers of relatable memories in these comedy pieces. Having a cynical approach to life is not an ideal situation, but sometimes there is humor in that cynicism, and it comes to those who find it. If you have found yourself having a cynical perspective towards life, among other things, then Romesh Ranganathan’s latest stand-up special, “The Cynic,” on Netflix could be a that relatable piece of comedy for you.


For the uninitiated, Romesh Ranganathan is a British national of Sri Lankan origin. He was born to Sri Lankan immigrant parents when they moved to the UK and settled in the idyllic town of Crawley. He has made a name for himself in the comic scene with his eccentric recounting of his life growing up and his adulthood. The self-deprecating comedy, use of exaggeration, and deadpan sense of humor are synonymous with Ranganathan. He is popularly known for the comedy show “The Ranganation,” which first premiered in 2019 and won him nominations twice at the BAFTAs. He also hosted a travel show, “The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan” (2018-present), for which he won the BAFTA in 2020. He has also published an autobiography titled “Straight Outta Crawley,” which was released in 2018. His latest stand-up special is titled “The Cynic” and speaks about his sex life, his relationship with his wife, his children, and his life as a modern man.

Romesh begins his piece by mentioning why he chose Crawley to film his Netflix stand-up special. Crawley is the place he was born and raised, but it is also the place that he hates. He outright calls Crawley “a sh*thole” and condemns the town for being very idyllic and mundane. In the behind-the-scenes documentary about making his documentary, he is no different. He is the same cynically humorous fellow he is on stage. He still condemns Crawley and finds it morbidly humorous that a sold-out children’s show will be held at the same place as his Netflix special will be filmed. 


Romesh Ranganathan has random breaks and callbacks in his narration, which bring the audience back to his original point. For instance, when he is talking about how his younger son was missing at Brighton beach, he adds a little bit of how he felt in those moments, albeit with a touch of dark humor when he says that he had made up his mind that his son wouldn’t be ever found. No parent would ever want that for their child, and everyone knows that, but despite that, there is humor in the situation. This is because, at some point, most parents have been through a similar situation, and as he aptly mentions, one is never prepared to react in such situations. There is a barrage of emotions flowing in, from absolute fear to hope. He delivers those emotions with a raw and vulnerable honesty laced with a heavy dose of humor. Then he diverts from his beach story to the time his parents immigrated from Sri Lanka, home to some of the most scenic beaches, to the rocky terrains of Brighton beach. When he is done with his story and wants his audience’s attention on the original one, he changes the direction but doesn’t let the narrative fade. He has certain erratic interruptions in his narrations when he speaks, mostly to warm up the audience and set the stage for his next bit, but sometimes it comes off as unnecessary. Repeating the same thing over and over can lead to a moment of boredom in the room. Perhaps he, too, noticed this and dove right into his next bit about his sex life with his wife. The descriptions are quite vivid and definitely not something one can watch with their parents.

Romesh’s stand-up special stays true to its title, “The Cynic.” On the one hand, we have him speak about his experiences, which are sometimes mundane and sometimes eccentric; on the other hand, we have him find humor in those situations. It signals that life is not always full of flowers and sunshine and that there can be cloudy days. But it need not be the case that you don’t enjoy it. Romesh’s use of dark humor when he talks about his children or his time with his wife lightens the mood considerably and doesn’t let it feel heavy upon narration. Overall, his cynical approach to life and other things is quite funny and relatable at the right moments.


“The Cynic” is a 2022 Netflix Stand-Up Special created by Romesh Ranganathan.

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Nandini Iyengar
Nandini Iyengar
Nandini has grown up on a healthy diet of books, movies and shows. Hailing from a multicultural background, Nandini has tried indulging in art from different corners of India that came naturally to her. Taking the influence further, she delved into foreign languages and indulged in content from across the globe. When she is not watching anything on her laptop, she can be found daydreaming or picking her pen to write a few words of fiction.

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