Edinburgh Review: Paul Sinha

If.Comedy Award nominee Paul Sinha has produced one of the finest, funniest shows on the Fringe with 39 Years of Solitude, says Paul Fleckney.

Paul_Sinha1I know this is really reductive, but here, roughly, is the rhythm of five minutes of Paul Sinha’s show: silence, silence, titter, silence, laugh, silence, silence, silence, HUGE laugh.

During the silences, you listen. Sinha is telling a story with numerous twists and some high drama, he makes you listen, partly due to his own intense focus. Banter and asides are kept to a minimal while he goes from A to B. But when he reaches one of his killer lines, boy is it worth the wait.

This show has some of the best lines of the Fringe, and on the occasions when he zings out a few in quick succession, it is stand-up comedy at its best. The intermittent titter and laughs, by the way, are just some of his jabs, softening us up.

While the title of the show refers to his in perpetuus singledom (since 1991, for the record), the story is more about how he compensates for this and the resulting lack of courage through quizzing (he’s super-intelligent). It is a lengthy, intricate tale and Sinha manages to keep it gripping despite not deviating from its course.

What stops this from being a truly stellar show is the surprising lack of emotional connection between performer and audience. Here is a man bearing his soul, leaving no stone unturned, but it is told in such a matter-of-fact way that the barrier between Sinha and us remains, no matter how fantastic the material. To make a possibly clunky Wizard of Oz reference, there is courage and brains in abundance, but lacks some heart. Is it the old doctor in him? I don’t know, but what I do know is this is one of the finest, funniest show on the Fringe.

Four stars
Paul Sinha – 39 Years of Solitude is on until August 30 (except Aug 17) at 9.25 at the Stand III. Click here for tickets.

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