Billy Connolly is one of the last of a dying breed. A legendary comedian, he’s known around the world as Scotland’s funniest man, and he’s still going almost 40 years later.
As someone raised partially in Glasgow and with a large Scottish family, it’s hard not to feel a sort of kinship with Billy. His accent, his mannerisms and his colloquialisms remind me of home. My father is one of the biggest Connolly fans I know, and I was raised on Billy’s hysterical world-view from birth.
He comes from a generation of comedians who’ve seen comedy go from the bizarre, slapstick medium of the seventies, all the way into the taboo ’00s, and he’s been ahead of the curve his entire life. Here’s a warning – if you’re not a fan of profanity, you should avoid this at all costs, as this man does what the Scottish do best – make the rudest of words sound like pure ******* poetry.
In Live in London 2010, Connolly does what he’s been doing for the last decade – confronting his ever-increasing age with confusion and anger. He hates GPS, and he hates the merest idea of his audience being as old as he is. He deals with hecklers in a way that shuts them up immediately, though a few of them manage to get a laugh out of him. Actually, that’s kinda the problem.
He laughs. And I mean, he laughs a lot. More than he tells jokes, at some points. It’s hard not to twiddle your thumbs while you wait for him to fall about over a routine he’s using during a month-long residency at the Hammersmith Apollo and probably rehearsed for months before then. But you take it with a pinch of salt. The man’s nearly seventy, and he’s reached the point in his career where he can openly talk about not being poor, and just relax on stage rather than pushing the boat out for the sake of ticket sales.
This man is no Frankie Boyle, the heir apparent to the “funny Scotsman” throne, using lines from TV panel shows and humour that never hits the moral high ground (and I mean ever). Connolly approaches things with anger and fury, but the points he makes are valid. Ever see those little black boxes in planes? Why aren’t whole planes made out of the stuff? Like all truly good comedy, you can put aside the name of science in favour of simply laughing and conceding the point.
It’s hard not to like the man, though, for all his swearing and fury at the world changing around him. His routines are fresh and rarely (if ever) tapping into older material, though the themes have never changed during a ten-year span of anti-retirement sentiments. I’d have loved to see him perform in Glasgow, rather than London. At that age, it would be something of a homecoming, and you can never truly understand a comedian until you’ve seen them perform at home.
He’ll perform until he dies – I know it, you know it, so does everyone else. And to be honest, although he may be slowing down, and occasionally laughing more than he talks, I wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s a credit to Scots and to comedy, and if they’ve not thrown a lifetime achievement award at him yet, what’s taking so long?