In an unusual twist I’ve never seen Paul Sinha before but my seventy five year old very middle class Mother has. She normally only leaves the house to play Bridge but she’s an enormous fan of The Chase and so when Paul was playing at a local comedy club she went along and loved his set to pieces. To be honest we don’t have a great deal in common when it comes to comedy, the edgiest, strangest series she likes is Friends and my attempts to introduce her to the likes of Nathan Fielder and Chris Morris haven’t gone down well, and christ, if she knew I once liked Jerry Sadowitz she’d probably disown me. But now we do share a common love for one piece of comedy at least as Paul Sinha’s NextUp show Shout Out To My Ex impressed me an awful lot.
Sinha opens the show with a few gentle jokes, including how he saved the lives of over 5,000 patients by leaving the NHS, along with a short but fun routine about how people treat him in public due to his appearances on The Chase, before launching in to the central theme of the show, which is all about the break up of a semi-recent relationship. He might have disagreed with his ex’s politics, who believed in 2011 that Britain should leave the EU while his hero was Donald Trump (with Sinha quipping “I had no idea in 2011 I was dating Nostra-fucking-damus”) but he stayed with him as he was younger and better looking than Paul, and also doing a job his mum and dad really loved.
The set up allows Sinha to tell a good few self-deprecating gags about his own left wing politics, including a beautiful joke about the sex being amazing which involves Margaret Thatcher and the British manufacturing industry of the 1980s, and though it may not sound hilarious you’ll just have to trust me that it is, and it also goes to prove how skilled a comedian Sinha is as very few could create a gem based around such a topic. After this he goes on to talk about how in 2015 he took a show to Edinburgh about how happy he was but straight after the festival everything went wrong, and he suffered through the worst 24 hours of his life.
Misery and comedy often go hand in hand and Sinha isn’t the exception here, but he generates an enormous amount of laughter from his misfortune, which began with his ex breaking up with him using the line “Please don’t take offence but I think I’m straight”. Right after that he had to record an episode of The Celebrity Chase and his disdain for such a thing is gorgeous stuff, especially a jibe at a certain comedian and also the show Mock The Week and how he doesn’t pay people to write his jokes. The day then gets worse when he tries to pull a guy he fancies only to trip over and fall on him, and worst of all his father has a heart attack when Paul is present.
Now this may indeed sound rather too miserable but Sinha is more than aware of this, and claims he said to his father “Can you please say something I can use in my show, I mean the audience are already surprised at how bleak this narrative has got quite quickly”. And even though it turns out that this was also the day that Donald Trump was elected President, and Sinha details how he fell out with his former friend Lee Hurst over the matter, the show becomes far more upbeat from this point on, as we learn he’s now got together with the guy he fell on, Oliver, and the line “He likes to pretend he’s Jeremy Corbyn and I’m a punchline that will never be written” and a joke about how Oliver works for TalkSport so Paul pretends he’s unemployed, had the audience, and myself, laughing hard.
It comes to a close with a sweet tale of his father’s support, the website LadBible making up a story about him, and Sinha posing the question of what kept him going through tough times, most of which was due to the generosity and kindness of strangers. But he also recognises his ex’s perspective too, and without wanting to spoil matters, he finishes with the best joke of the entire set which has a truly hilarious reference to a certain member of the Eggheads.
It’s a superb show all in all, Sinha tackles a great number of disparate themes with ease and seemingly effortless skill, but also summarises his experiences in an optimistic way, which considering he feels humanity is doomed (and who can argue with that?) makes it all the more remarkable. It’s made me a huge fan of the man and I hope NextUp film more of his work, though it’ll be a repeat viewing for me if they do as I definitely plan to catch everything he does live from now on in.