Paul Sinha has become something of a veteran of Leicester Comedy Festival over the years. His show at this years festival rides the wave between his default state of optimism and a crushing 2016 that saw the loss of Prince, Bowie and his EU Passport. We caught up with him ahead of the festival…
As a gay, asian comedian, how frustrating is it to be constantly asked how it is being a gay, asian man working in comedy?
I really don’t mind. I am pragmatic enough to know that in an overcrowded comedy market, any hook can be useful. I also realise that the hooks can put people off as well, though I find these days that I sell more tickets on being the Chaser than on any preconceptions about race and sexuality.
You’re something of a veteran of Leicester Comedy Festival these days – do you have any particularly strong memories of shows in the city over the years?
My most vivid memories involve playing the preview show at De Montfort Hall in 2008. Having one of the gigs of my life in front of 1500 people, I naively allowed myself to believe that selling tickets for the solo show would be straightforward. That was to underestimate just how big the Leicester Comedy Festival has become. Nothing in comedy can ever be assumed.
Your show at the festival, a work in progress, seems to have been influenced by a year that was awful for virtually everyone. What specific event in 2016 really got to you, and how do you rationalise that to yourself?
Leaving aside politics for a moment, it was the death of Prince. We had already had a year characterized by the death of beloved entertainment figures. Prince was the musical muse of my mid to late teenage years, and my first ever gig, in 1986. No rationalization was required. Everyone dies, and troubled souls tend to die younger.
Conversely, what were your highlights in an otherwise bleak year?
I spent three days in Berlin in September. On Day 1 I watched Radiohead live with my cousin from India. Day 2 was spent exploring Berlin with my new boyfriend. On Day 3 I won an international radio comedy award. It was the most intense three days of joy.
If some particularly unusual set of circumstances transpired where you could only continue quizzing, or doing stand-up, which future would you choose and why?
Stand-up is my profession. It was my way out of medicine, and not a day goes by without me pondering how blessed I am to do a job that I love. Professional quizzer is not a long term plan, whereas if I ever stop being a stand-up, something has gone very wrong.
Paul Sinha performs his work in progress show at Firebug on Saturday 18th February.