The Chase's Paul Sinha reflects on what Covid taught him

Comedian Paul Sinha almost certainly had Covid back in early lockdown – a grim experience which remains a bit of a blur.

Comedian Paul Sinha
Comedian Paul Sinha

But he emerged from it with an even greater determination to pack happiness into his life – which makes it all the more of a pleasure to return to the live stage.

Paul will be at the Hawth in Crawley on Wednesday, October 28 at 7.45pm with the show Hazy Little Thing Called Love. Then on October 30, tickets go on sale for his newly confirmed date at The Capitol in Horsham on Friday, December 4.

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The show is the story of the past two years in Paul’s life: “It has been two years where bits and pieces in my life have come together in a really beautiful way – and where bits and pieces in my life have fallen apart in a really spectacular way.”

The two poles are marriage on the one hand – and diagnosis with Parkinson’s on the other: on top of which life has now added pandemic and Paul’s own personal brush with death.

“But it is not a moping show at all. I am certainly not going to be moping.

“I have enjoyed what life has brought me so far. I consider myself very lucky. With the Parkinson’s diagnosis, you have got to think that there is not a family I know in this world that hasn’t got a major elephant in the room somewhere. I think you have just got to get on with it.”

It has been quite a year.

“I had the tour booked for this year that fundamentally from an artistic point of view was the biggest thing in my life, the story of life having gone wrong, of fighting back, the most ambitious thing I have done. I was really excited about it. I was expecting to be the talk of the town on the festival circuit. That didn’t happen.

“It was that seven-day period in March when everybody I knew working in the entertainment industry was seeing their diaries just disappear. Every call you had was bad news. I was on stage in Peterborough and I said to the audience ‘This is the last chance to be doing something for quite a while.’

“I had an insight into the way it was going because so many of my friends are doctors. I am a former doctor. And the news from them was apocalyptic, perhaps more apocalyptic than things actually turned out. They were working in hospitals stretched beyond a point they had ever known before, and then when we went into lockdown something of that alleviated. Without that, the health service in this country would have collapsed.

“On the Saturday after Peterborough I got a message from a friend of mine who is a respiratory physician, and she just said ‘Make sure your family are safe’, which isn’t the usual message you expect on a Saturday afternoon. You would usually be expecting something like ‘Did you see that Mo Salah goal?

“And it made me realise that I needed to do something. I am very much the bread winner in my family, and I made the decision that me and my husband were going to isolate elsewhere. My parents live less than a mile away. I didn’t want the social pressures that might lead me into making a mistake.”

It was absolutely the right decision: “Three days after we left for Surrey I became unwell.”

Soon he was short of breath and struggling to survive. As he says, it seems exceptionally likely that he had the virus. His husband became his nurse; the rest is a blur.

“I suppose I have emerged from that thinking this is the new normal. You have got to deal with the fact that nothing is ever going to be the same again. Never. I don’t think so.

“We have been lucky enough to live through a time without major wars, but the fact is that life is extremely fragile and has always been fragile if you look back in history to plagues and natural disasters. I have talked to my in-laws and to my mum and dad, and they are much calmer – I suppose because they have been on the planet longer. But I don’t think life is ever going to be the same again.

“And that has left me feeling it is incumbent upon me to pack in as much happiness as possible. It has been weird. Most of all I have spent this year quizzing, and I now get to quiz with people around the world rather than just in my locality. Quizzing has moved online, and the world of quizzing has become more interesting and more exciting than ever before. The world of quizzing has become much more fluid.

“But first and foremost I am a comedian – and second a quizzer…”

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