Review: Paul Sinha – Looking at the Stars – The Stand, Edinburgh
As Paul Sinha takes the stage to a half full Stand 3 he acknowledges the empty seats and explains how it doesn’t faze him. Offering a 16 year long career complete with his fair share of TV and radio credits, Sinha is happy with his place in life, wherever that might be.
As with previous Fringe efforts, this is very much a show rather than a club set of material disguised as such – and one with an evolving theme and narrative arc that Sinha guides you expertly through. Using the premise of having no idea for a theme for his show, he ends up looking at his own dreams as a start and end point for this deftly crafted and thought provoking hour.
He has a wealth of real life issues to draw upon for his material – being gay, Asian, chronically single, struggling with adult life following a privileged upbringing, having a funny neck and being humiliated by James Corden. And despite claiming to be sick of talking about several of these topics, he still includes them in his set and, in his defence, gets plenty of laughs out of them.
A main chunk of this hour, however, revolves around the actions of Jim Davidson and some malicious internet posts aimed Sinha’s way. This allows him to embark on some of the hilarious navel gazing that he specialises in, whilst thoughtfully explaining his own political and social observations. Though a fair amount of time is taken on intelligent swipes at celebrity culture, our PM’s views on social mobility and his own role as social commentator, Sinha’s set feels sincere rather than preachy and is riddled with well written jokes and amusing anecdotes from his youth.
He certainly has his audience and will always fail to appeal to more right wing or less well read punters, exemplified tonight with an awkward situation with three audience members who Sinha asked to be quiet twice before kicking out from the venue. It sparked an ugly slanging match as the punters didn’t leave quietly and left Sinha uncomfortably struggling for retorts on stage.
And despite all his craft and steady stream of good material, there wasn’t any real stand out moments when a gag or routine really tore the roof off.
Returning to the idea of dreams for the end of his set, Sinha wrapped up what was a thought provoking and amusing hour. Whilst a lesson in constructing a fine show, Looking at the Stars lacked a couple of real stand out routines that might one day fill the rest of those empty seats. However, as Sinha concluded after confessing to attaining several of his other dreams, you need just a few to stay out of reach to keep you going.
Date of live review: Monday 23rd August 2011.