PAUL Sinha is a man of many talents - a qualified GP, a proud quiz geek and above all, a barrel of laughs.
Perhaps best known for his role on tea-time quiz show The Chase, Sinha has recently embarked on his latest solo stand-up show - with a date in Kendal on the horizon.
And the 43-year-old is keen on trying the famous Mintcake when he makes his first ever trip to the Brewery Arts Centre this weekend.
“Oddly enough, apart from driving through the Lakes to a very eventful stag-do in Whitehaven I haven’t visited the area,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to a new venue in a new town.”
Sinha started his working life as a doctor following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, but as time allowed, between the bandages and the prescriptions, he was learning his craft as a stand-up comedian.
Life on the stage didn’t start so well for Sinha, who cites Morecambe and Wise and Laurel and Hardy as some of his idols.
“In 2004 I did a show that was basically talking about my hatred of Love Actually,” he said.
“At the time it had only been out six months and not many people had seen it - so didn’t understand the jokes. I learnt a very valuable lesson that night!”
Fast-forward two years and Sinha was thrust into the national spotlight. ‘Saint or Sinha’ received critical acclaim and was nominated for the highest accolade in live stand-up at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival.
His skit was judged as one of the top five shows.
It led to a slot at the prestigious Garrick Theatre in London’s West End and medicine soon gave way to a full-time career in comedy.
“Suddenly I was standing in front of hundreds of people,” he explained. “It was quite an experience because I was used to being in a pub in front of ten to 15 people.”
And after a decade of performing in venues from Aberdeen to Auckland and from Sheffield to Singapore, Sinha has no regrets.
“As well as the foreign travel I feel incredibly privileged to have visited lots of beautiful European countries and feel vindicated having made the switch,” he said.
“Solo shows are so long that you get so much time to ease into the gig.
“It’s a different dynamic to comedy clubs because the audience wants you to succeed as you are the sole reason why they have bothered coming out of the house.
“I don’t feel I need to prove anything to anybody. I feel I have earned the industry’s respect.”
Of his show he said: “It's story-telling with jokes. It's my life and talking about the things that make me who I am. It's not about the man in a white suit who appears on The Chase.
“It can be quite dark at times and is definitely not aimed at children.”
Eagle-eyed quiz anoraks might remember him from appearances on Mastermind, The Brain of Britain, University Challenge - The Professionals and The Weakest Link.
But Sinha, who is now ranked as one of the top 20 brains in the UK, says his first steps into the world of quizzing were nothing more than ‘by chance’.
“I was a bit of whiz-kid at university and used to supplement my income from quiz machines in pubs,” he said.
“But life got in the way and took a different path towards medicine.
“By chance I found myself on University Challenge - The Professionals and we got absolutely battered by a team from the Ministry of Justice.
“That evening I saw how smug they were and was overcome with enormous envy.
“I decided I wanted to wipe that smug smile off their faces and started playing in quizzing leagues and tournaments.”
Making his mark in the quizzing world, when the position for the fourth chaser came up Sinha’s name was put forward.
“I plan to stay for as long as they want me but stand-up is my stable career,” he said.
“The brittle nature of TV means anything can happen and the carpet can be pulled out from under you at any stage.”
‘Paul Sinha is a Stand Up Comedian’ shows at Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre at 8pm on Saturday.