Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Paul Sinha: Postcards From the Z List, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jay Richardson
Otherwise occupied appearing on ITV quiz show The Chase, this is Paul Sinha’s first Fringe show in four years. But it’s a typically classy, self-effacing hour. Affirming his Z-list celebrity credentials at the top, the long-established stand-up still has to introduce himself as a gay former doctor to provide context for his routines – a bittersweet moment but reflective of his outer circle of fame.
Recently summoned to the Houses of Parliament to celebrate his Radio 4 show about Magna Carta, his pride is progressively deflated by his failure to stand up to David Starkey and everyone’s failure to recognise him, and compounded by the bus journey home in which he hears himself maligned by his oblivious fellow passengers.
As ever, Sinha supplements the hubris with gossipy asides about those in the genuine spotlight; striking a precise blow between being too arch or too slanderous, his awareness that Chuka Umunna or Mo Farah are unlikely to be in his audience another double-edged dagger to his desire to be recognised. Those celebrities who actually wrong him find Sinha seething with l’esprit de l’escalier, as he delivers a cutting retort months or even years after the incident to a room full of strangers instead.
Still, his inadequacy has limits. After so long bemoaning his solitude and inability to flirt, he reveals that he’s actually been in a relationship for four years, and with a younger, handsome Tory-voter no less.
So with his dream job and domestic happiness in place, is he becoming too happy for the good of his stand-up? No, because when forced to choose, Sinha remains firmly outside the VIP rope, only half-covetously looking in, conscious that life will bring him crashing down to earth soon enough. And that really ought to sustain his densely funny and accomplished comedy.
The Stand Comedy Club (Venue 5a), until 30 August, 5pm
Published in The Scotsman on 25 August 2015
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