Interview: Chaser Paul Sinha on being a gay comic sports fan and selfies with Joey Essex

Paul Sinha is best known as one of the Chasers on the ITV quiz show ‘The Chase’. He talks to PinkNews about breaking character, his Edinburgh Fringe shows, and being pigeonholed as a gay comic …

Which of your fellow Chasers would you least like to go up against?

They’ve all got different strengths but I think Mark Labbett’s the one I’d least like to go up against because of his incredible speed. He gets asked more questions in that Final Chase than any of the rest of us. Even at the age of nearly 50 his speed is just remarkable.

You joined the show a couple of years after it started. Were you ‘hazed’ by any of the other Chasers?

Absolutely the opposite. I was welcomed with open arms. They couldn’t have been more friendly or welcoming if they tried. The quiz community are not alpha males. Nobody did anything whatsoever to try and intimidate me or undermine. The first day I got a massive good luck card from everybody.

Bradley Walsh often cracks up laughing on the show. Is it difficult to maintain your intimidating exterior when he is giggling?

The show is actually great fun to record. As for anything to do with the intimidating exterior, it’s all pantomime and I think most of the contestants know that. It’s meant to be an entertaining show. An awful lot of corpsing or accidental innuendo actually ends up on the cutting room floor. Sometimes things happen and they are just hilarious and all you can really do is corpse. It’s not always easy to maintain your dignity but you know that eventually you’ve got the show to make and you’ve got to pull yourself together.

Which other TV quiz show would you most like to go on?

The ones that I haven’t been on before really. I came to quizzing quite late so I never ever did ‘Fifteen to One’ so now that it’s back and it’s got a £40,000 top prize I’d love to give that a go, but also ‘Only Connect’.

You recently mentioned that you are in your first long term relationship. Will you be talking about your partner in your Fringe show?

Yes I am. He remains anonymous and correctly so because I have respect for people’s privacy and it’s always a fine line you have to take when you are talking about personal stuff. Has the person you’re talking about given you their express permission to use them for the purposes of comedy? The answer is yes. He’s seen the preview and he doesn’t feel that he’s misrepresented in any way. All the jokes were run through him first.

Do you find you are ever pigeonholed as a ‘gay comic’?

Well I am a gay comic. I’m not a camp comic. For a gay comic I do a lot of jokes about sport because sport is one of my biggest obsessions in life.

Nonetheless, I am a gay comic, and people see you differently. If people don’t like you or don’t find you funny, then they’ll look at you and say “All he does is bang on about being gay”. If people do think you’re funny they go “Oh it’s nice to see somebody who doesn’t always bang on about being gay.” They see you through their own personal opinions and prejudices.

I know people that think all I ever talk about is being gay and I know people that think that I hardly ever talk about being gay. The more mature people go “Well of course he talks about being gay because he talks about relationships and he is gay.”

I don’t set out to be a comedian whose only appeal is to people who are gay. Looking around my audience it strikes me that it’s almost entirely heterosexual. I don’t really care who it is that’s coming to watch me, I just want them to enjoy the show.

You haven’t performed at the Fringe since 2011. What are you most looking forward to about returning to Edinburgh?

So far what I’ve most enjoyed about the Edinburgh Fringe is simply doing a new one hour show in front of people who – fingers crossed – are enjoying it. That for me is what the Fringe is all about – that hour you get to talk about absolutely anything you like in front of a bunch of people who want you to be funny because they’ve paid money to come and see you and they want their judgement validated by you being as funny as they thought you were going to be. It feels like a privilege. You are part of the biggest Arts festival in the world.

Your Fringe show is called ‘Postcards from the Z List’. What’s the most Z list thing that’s ever happened to you?

Me asking for a selfie with Joey Essex but not having the guts to tell him why, so telling him that my sister is a really big fan.

Speaking of Joey Essex, do you think a lot of celebrities see themselves as more famous than they actually are?

Who decides these things? For me personally celebrity is not about Z list or F list. If you do something I admire then I admire you. If you’re just famous for being famous it doesn’t really bother me how famous you are, it’s not something I particularly admire. When I make my own judgements on a celebrity, it’s based on how much I admire what they do.

Which A-list celebrity would you most like to receive a postcard from?

Zac Efron or Tom Hardy I think. Tom Hardy. He seems to be the guy who has literally everything.

Paul’s Edinburgh Fringe Show ‘Postcards from the Z List’ runs at 5pm from August 7th-30th at The Stand.