Billy Connolly has spoken about how he found the restrictions of lockdown hard to deal with as his desire to be out performing grew stronger
Image: The Canadian Press/PA Images)
Billy Connolly has admitted he misses touring and the buzz he gets from it saying: “I sometimes wonder why I’m not going anywhere.”
Billy, affectionately known as The Big Yin, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013 and retired from live performances five years later.
And despite not stepping foot on stage to perform for several years he admitted he misses the natural high the gigs gave him.
Billy, 78, said: “I wasn’t aware until I came off the stage, when I stopped doing concerts, there was such a payback from the audience I couldn’t believe it.
I couldn’t believe that people had liked me that much. It’s breath-taking, quite frightening, you don’t know what to do about it. I sometimes think I miss it [touring], I sometimes wonder why I’m not going anywhere.
I used to love walking on stage and getting that feeling that you’re somebody else, you’re not nervous anymore, you just go and become this person that flies. When you come off at the end and it’s lovely.”
He also thanked his wife for helping him to keep the “high” of performing and not hit the bottle too hard, which perhaps kept him successful for so long on the road.
He added: “Thanks to my wife I didn’t stay high all night, before I met her I’d be met off stage with a glass, depending on the tour – I did a gin tour and then a brandy tour, a whiskey tour!
The one I remember the most is I had a large gin and a cigarette when I came off stage, and I would stay high until I went to sleep at two or three in the morning. When I met Pamela she said, ‘you’ve got to cut that out! Save the high for the stage!’ “
The Canadian Press/PA Images)
Billy also joked that lockdown was like a “prison sentence” in his household but claimed because of his illness he had ended up being well looked after in the last 18 months.
Speaking to Russell Howard for his Sky TV show, Billy explained: “I found it amazingly good, amazingly healthy, my family were all stuck in the house and we had to get along!
Not that it was any trouble, but we had to get along. It’s a prison sentence, it’s a year! But it was easy, we all got along and I did nothing.
I do absolutely nothing because I’m the sick man, so they make my dinner and they make my bed, everybody was happy! It was great!”
As he promoted his new book about his stand up career and life, Billy urged comics not to be guarded and take chances in the future.
He said: “You naturally give a f***, but you have to work at not giving a f***!
You just convince yourself that you’re on the right track. You’re judged on the way you do it [comedy], you’re not judged on the thing itself. You’re judged on the fact that you stood there and said it. Yeah I felt pressure to tone down, but it soon wore off.
You can’t watch it and be funny, you can’t watch yourself and guard yourself away and still be funny, you have to go for it.”
Billy’s new book Windswept is out Thursday and will tell all about his days touring the world as a stand up comedy star following a big break on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1975.
In December last year in an ITV special documentary called It’s Been A Pleasure, Connolly spoke in-depth about his comedy career and his “new lease of life” living in Florida where he now enjoys fishing and lives with wife Pamela Stephenson away from the spotlight.
At the time Pamela said: “What he wants to do is take it easy, he wants to fish on his dock in Florida, and enjoy the sunshine, watch television and drink tea and eat biscuits, that’s what he wants to do.”
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