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  • Alistair Braidwood

In praise of: Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly has begun a sold out tour of Scotland, one which will include many nights at the Clyde Auditorium. In terms of bums on seats Connolly is proving to be as popular as ever. However, many people seem to be increasingly sniffy about Billy, accusing him of … well, I’m not sure exactly. Selling out? To whom? Selling tickets is not synonymous with selling out. It seems too simplistic to say that he is a victim of the ‘Ah kent his faither’ attitude that often is pointed toward successful Scots, but Connolly appeared to be a hero for Scots through the 80’s and most of the 90’s. Then something changed. Is it because he bought a big pad in the country, or that he seems to know other famous folk? Surely none of this is surprising. What exactly do people expect? I’ve seen a lot of live comedy over the years, but nothing compares to seeing Connolly on stage for near 3 hours at Greenock Town Hall in 1992. It’s the closest I’ve come to wetting myself with less than 12 drinks consumed. A funny man, and the only man who could swear and my granny found it absolutely acceptable. I was never granted such lenience.

And that gets to the heart of Connolly for me. He is a charming man, able to talk to young, old and in between. He is basically a storyteller following a great tradition. The reason that he is successful across the English speaking world is that he finds the common in the individual and includes everyone when he performs. Look at the crowd on ‘The Audience with…’ clip below. There are actors, sportsmen, presenters and comedians from all backgrounds, all of whom are roaring with laughter and that is down to recognition and inclusion. His enthusiasm for life and the people he meets is infectious. Some chide him for finding everything ‘brilliant’ and ‘amazing’, but sometimes things are just that and this should be acknowledged. Connolly looks at the everyday as few do, and is able to make others do likewise.

Below are two of my favourite Connolly moments, and yes they are from the 1980’s, but in my defence I would claim that’s mainly to do with how we relate to our favourite artists who have longevity. The time we fall for them is always defining for us, and although we may enjoy the relationship through highs and lows over the years, you never quite capture that heady rush of first love.


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