“He’s gay, Asian, a former GP and he’s fucking funny!” laughs Che Burnley as he lists Paul Sinha’s bona fides as a stand-up comedian who’s a perfect fit for The Alternative Black Cabaret Showcase.
The showcase, which provides a platform for non-white comedians and other acts, is back in Liverpool in February 2024 (after another successful run in Edinburgh) with professional quizzer, comedian, doctor and broadcaster Sinha. While Paul is known for his role as The Sinnerman on The Chase, he’s been performing stand-up comedy for 20 years and he’s back to headline the comedy night in the Royal Court Studio.
We caught up with Che Burnley, the man behind the ABCS, on what to expect – and how comedy is about more than putting a smile on your face.
Why Liverpool? Why comedy? Why black?
“I started doing it in Edinburgh because my Irish friend said there was no black comedy there. We’re onto our fifth year now in Edinburgh. There were not many black comedians at the time, but we started to find more. We’ve run 10-12 shows so far and noticed many black comedians reside down south so we started to bring them up north so more people can see them.”
What can you offer the comedy scene that others can’t?
“Not only are we bringing acts that don’t regularly perform, we’re bringing them up north which is important. We’re also bringing black kids to the comedy scene by providing them with a comedy course and helping them to get into areas they might not think they can.
There’s also a misrepresentation of black people in the comedy scene especially. Mental health care is pretty stretched at the moment so we’re trying to help any way we can – we run a comedy course for black people suffering with their mental health too.”
“Why Paul Sinha? He’s gay, Asian, a former GP and he’s fucking funny!”
You sound pretty busy. What’s next?
“We’re looking at doing it in Manchester at Aviva, the new comedy venue there. Wherever we go we want to put on a show and help the local community. I want to find the next black Vic and Bob (Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer)”
Is Liverpool fertile territory the the ABCS?
“Number one, it’s where I live. Number two, Liverpool is renowned for its humour. There’s a long lineage of comedians here, with the Sir Ken Dodd exhibition, ‘Happiness!’ showing that at the National Museum Liverpool a timely reminder. There aren’t many black comedians here though, there was R David and there is Sarah Levine and Callum Oakley but that’s about it.”
People might recognise Paul Sinha from The Chase. But what does he bring that the other comedians don’t?
“He’s gay, Asian, a former GP and he’s fucking funny!”
• Paul Sinha at the Alternative Black Cabaret Showcase is at the Royal Court, 8th February 2024