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Paul Sinha: Looking At The Stars

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

This is the fifth consecutive four-star review we’ve given Paul Sinha at Edinburgh – a rare combination of consistency and quality. The vagaries of the Fringe, however, means that despite the acclaim he always gets, his Stand 3 venue is only half full tonight – and even then, half the audience have never seen him before, so he could hardly be accused of hubristically riding the coattails of previous successes.

But, for a comic – and one who like so many others falls victim to the vanity and insecurity of checking Twitter for their own name – Sinha seems to know his place. Sure, he’d like more bums on seats tonight, but he doesn’t crave the arena-filling status of the likes of Michael McIntyre. He goes weak in the presence of real fame, for starters.

This year’s show was inspired, in part, with an encounter with Jim Davidson, who rocked up to the Comedy Store one night, enjoyed the show and chatted with amicable camaraderie to the comics who’d been on the bill. He then went home and blogged about the ‘jealous Socialists’ who’d failed to make him laugh, and described Sinha as an ‘Indian poof’. That will be the legendary Davidson charm.

So Sinha considers whether he’s jealous – he isn’t, he doesn’t think, though that doesn’t mean he can’t stick a well-placed blade into some comics more famous than him. And Socialist – well an old-fashioned term, but Sinha believes in social mobility, even though he went to a posh school himself. Unlike the old Etonian Prime Minister who, Sinha believes, is kicking away the ladder to ensure everyone knows their place and stays there.

Yes, although Sinha professes not to like the burden of being a social commentator so often placed on today’s comedians, he certainly continues to practise it, no matter his protestations that he’s too superficial to have any real answers. However, this is no soapbox tub-thumping, but another typically robust piece of passionate, personal stand-up with every political point a set-up for a joke, many at his own expense.

Other encounters with famous people over the past year include a near-bullying humiliation by James Corden on the set of Sky’s League Of Their Own, and an encounter with Michael Barrymore, again at the Comedy Store. So you can see he isn’t short of real-life inspiration, especially as he’s got stories from his time as a GP in Norfolk to draw upon as well.

He has a clearly-defined demographic of well-read liberals, which hopefully his increasingly regular appearances on Radio 4 will bolster. Sinha’s the sort of act who can make a joke about Alan Turing in the knowledge that the majority of the audience will not only know who he is, but the key points of his life story, too. But even if you don’t, it’s an in-joke that soon passes.

Opinionated, witty and smart – Sinha is the certainly one of the comics Fringe goers should be flocking to.

Review date: 10 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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