Paul Sinha: One Sinha Lifetime

Paul Sinha is probably best known as one of Bradley Walsh’s TV team of ‘Chasers’: a characterful crew of six champion quizzers whose aim is to stop four plucky hopefuls getting to the big cash prize first. For over a decade, these brains have tantalised the nation at teatime, helped create Twitter storms of outrage whenever the ‘lower’ offer is taken, and become major personalities in their own rights.

A sparkling hour

Regular viewers will know that alongside his impressive quizzing credentials on and off-screen (Sinha was crowned British Quiz Champion in 2019), he is also both a Doctor and a standup comedian. It’s an intriguing combination, and perhaps lies at the heart of his widespread appeal. For Sinha simply cannot be pigeon-holed and continues to surprise and delight in everything he does; his formidable memory skills worn so lightly and with such self-effacement that we can’t even label him a smug git to assuage our own feelings of contrasted inadequacy.

These eclectic life choices are the source material for his ‘Once Sinha Lifetime’ tour, kicking off at the Fringe this summer. It is a sparkling hour, replete with family anecdotes, dodgy University choices, insights and quips about his relatively recent Parkinson's diagnosis, and a particularly glorious recreation of his first ever standup gig.

Comedy is subjective. It always will be. And it is in the nature of the beast that not every joke will land every time to every audience. Perfection can never really exist; but if it did, for me at least, it would sound an awful lot like this.

It is a set as combative and bolshy as it is conspiratorial and cosy: and - in one of the highest compliments I can offer – is reminiscent of the comics I watched during the 1980s, when I was just starting to appreciate the power of comedy as a political tool. But despite our parliamentary landscape having never been riper with such low-hanging comedy fruit, searing excoriation of the Establishment has given way to a somewhat goofier modus operandi by too many with the voice to help change things. The righteous anger underpinning much of Sinha’s rhetoric is life giving, and his ability to skewer pomposity and social inequality weaves a much-needed sense of optimism and camaraderie in a world increasingly weary of manufactured culture wars.

Packed with goodies and not a moment of padding or superfluity, this is easily the funniest and most gratifying standup I have seen in two decades of Fringing.

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The Blurb

In January 2020, Paul embarked on a national tour, his most ambitious show combining stand-up, music, hula-hooping and tales of romantic validation and neurological degeneration. As it turned out 2020 proved to be the wrong year to embark on a national tour. For everyone. Undeterred, Paul returns, with the difficult second post-diagnosis album. Expect jokes and surprises. Paul has a story to tell. And an absolute banger of a title. 'The stories are told with a constant light-touch wit... Parkinson’s hasn’t robbed him of his ability to do stand-up, it’s enhanced it' **** (Chortle.co.uk).

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