Edinburgh Fringe Review – Paul Sinha, Pauly Bengali, The Stand's New Town Theatre

Edinburgh Fringe Review – Paul Sinha, Pauly Bengali, The Stand's New Town Theatre

I was slightly duped into seeing this show. Not by Paul Sinha of course. But somewhere deep in a big pile of virtual press cuttings I'd read that this would be his last ever Edinburgh run. Sinha has Parkinson's and this would be his Fringe swansong. 

No such thing of course. Don't believe everything you read. As Sinha has observed, you have to be careful what you say because the press has a habit of picking up the slightest aside and printing it out of context. There is one newspaper that sometimes seems as if it has an entire department devoted to watching The Chase and creating headlines out of the genial banter between Sinha and host Bradley Walsh.

A good chunk of the audience at this show had probably bought a ticket because they like him on the daytime ITV game show with Walsh. He quips at the start that employed people might not know him, but he is being disingenuous. There have been enough primetime iterations of The Chase for The Sinnerman to have notched up a number of nicknames.

But retirees who do only know him for The Chase they might have got a shock seeing him in the flesh, but hopefully an enjoyable one. Sinha can be pretty caustic onstage. No Jerry Sadowitz, but in his own gentle way he doesn't take any prisoners. 

I got a shock too. For me the shock was seeing Sinha play keyboards and sing – if sing is the right word – comic songs. It's not something I've seen him do before and they are very pithy, funny songs, with lots of wordplay and clever lines. He does like a cheesy pun, hence the multiple meanings of this show's title.

But it's the stand-up that really stands out. Sinha talks a bit about his Parkinson's and how it means he can't tragically do the hula hoop any more, but there is no mawkishness here. The show is mainly topical humour and a series of anecdotes about his life, the most notable being his bad behaviour at an awards ceremony. Sinha and red wine don't mix, but Sinha loves red wine and he certainly gets good soruce material out of overindulging on the sauce on one particular night.

He is also very funny about his background, explaining how training to be a doctor was almost mandatory for a young Bengali of his generation. There are some neat digs at Rishi Sunak and some gossip about appearing on Celebrity Gogglebox with his husband and fellow pro-quizzer Oliver. He also takes some welcome wallops at comedians who have taken the GB News shilling. They definitely won't be getting a signed Sinha Christmas card this year.

He seems particularly liberated onstage, as if he isn't bothered about consequences any more. One anecdote is about hearing one of his jokes told by another comic. One might usually expect a performer to resist naming and shaming, but not Sinha. It is totally understandable and totally his right to name him, although maybe slightly deflating as the alleged villain is not particularly well known. Keeping the audience guessing might have been better, but Sinha clearly doesn't care. He'd rather settle a score and who can blame him?

Pauly Bengali is a playful mischievous show and one that ends on a really enjoyable, positive high. Ignore the headlines and buy a ticket. I don't think we've seen the last of Sinha at the Fringe. I certainly hoop, sorry, hope not. 

Until August 27. Tickets here.

Read more reviews here.


four stars




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