■ The comedian, 41, talks to Metro about his hit hip-hop podcast and gaming habits
What equipment do you use to record your podcast?
When I’m out doing interviews I use a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. It has two microphone ports, you can take it anywhere and the sound is quality. When I started my hip-hop podcast I used my laptop and got loads of complaints about the sound quality. Often rappers say you have to meet them wherever they’re going to be for a gig, as they aren’t interested in doing promo, so it’s useful for that.
Did you use any tech in your former career as a maths teacher?
The school I taught at used smart boards. You connected them to your laptop and could play videos on the whiteboard and prepare interactive presentations. You could show pupils how to do something, then click on a link showing a video demonstration. The highest-risk part of teaching is turning your back on the class — and that made it possible to show school kids stuff without doing so. We also had voting buttons. You put a problem on the board and the kids would buzz their button for the right answer. It showed you what the level of understanding was for what you’d covered.
What tech made an impression on you as a kid?
My parents bought me the yellow waterproof Sony Sports Walkman. I had no need for it, I wasn’t surfing, but I thought it was cool. I tested out its functionality by taking it into the shower with me. The first time I did it I was s***ting myself in case it broke and my parents asked what happened and I had to say, ‘I took it into the shower with me’ — what would I do that for? It was nerve-racking.
Did you make any hip-hop tunes yourself?
Yes, when I was 15 me and my mate recorded stuff using a Shure SM58 mic, which I now use on stage. We didn’t have a pop shield so the Ps and Ts would sound crap, so we used a coat hanger with a pair of tights stretched over it. We’d play an instrumental version of the track on a CD player and then rap over it and record it on a tape recorder. We found it very exciting at the time.
Do your children use any annoying gadgets?
I have three kids, aged five to ten, and they all have tablets. The five-year-old has a Kurio, which is a kids’ version of a tablet so you can monitor what they’re doing. I bought a Nintendo Switch but they commandeered it from me to play Fortnite and Minecraft. I’m such a mug I bought another Switch for myself and they commandeered that as well. My son said, ‘We’re going to keep taking these off you until we have one each.’ I told him most households don’t even have one Switch so there’s no way I’m buying one per head. Now we use them on a rota system.
What are your favourite games to play?
Fifa, and I really like Super Mario Maker. You can create levels yourself. The kids make impossibly difficult levels. They say, ‘You’ve died again.’ I say, ‘Yes, because you’ve made this level impossible to progress from, there’s no way possible to get past it.’ And I like the VR on the PlayStation 4 — it’s so immersive. You have to fiddle with the goggles but once you get it right, you’re in. There’s one game where you’re Godzilla and you have to headbutt buildings — watching the kids headbutt imaginary buildings is a lot of fun.
What fitness tech do you use?
I’ve got a Peloton bike. You join in exercise classes and it keeps track of what you’ve done and how far you’ve pushed yourself. It has the gaming element of beating your numbers. I’m very lazy, I’m a fat man by nature, but I find it addictive. I don’t like the slogans the instructors use, though, like ‘put into your day what you want to get out of it’. I’m not into that. It’s the first exercise equipment I’ve bought and kept using. I bought it in April and I’m still using it now.
What’s been your most disappointing tech purchase?
Buying a MiniDisc player. It was £180, which was an extortionate amount of money for me at the time, but I wanted to be on the cutting edge. The format lasted for 35 minutes. It became obsolete very quickly.
■ Romesh’s Hip Hop Saved My Life podcast and tour details are available at romeshranganathan.co.uk