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​Billy Connolly Is Without Doubt The Greatest Observational Comic Of All Time

​Billy Connolly Is Without Doubt The Greatest Observational Comic Of All Time

Many British comedians come and go - destined to have a few runs at the Edinburgh Fringe and, if they're lucky, a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo that gets broadcast to mums across the country as they fall asleep on the sofa. Maybe even a couple of appearances on the latest comedy panel show de jour, before announcing their retirement and fading into obscurity.

The famously controversial jokes that made Frankie Boyle a household name eventually began to wear thin. Michael McIntyre started getting slagged off by fellow comedians. Russell Howard's now stuck in the loop of presenting one topical comedy news show after another.

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But then there's Sir Billy Connolly, who made his debut back in the 1970s and hasn't really stopped since - that is, of course, until he was forced to retire from performing live towards the end of last year after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

In two-part BBC documentary Made in Scotland, which concluded this evening, the 76-year-old Glaswegian comedian told viewers: "My life, it's slipping away and I can feel it and I should... I'm near the end. I'm a damn sight nearer the end than I am the beginning.

"But it doesn't frighten me, it's an adventure and it is quite interesting to see myself slipping away."

The Big Yin's poignant comments saw fans rush to social media to pay tribute to his long legacy as a comedic storyteller, reminding us all that perhaps it's better to sing someone's praises while they're still around to appreciate it.

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Billy Connolly with his CBE in 2003. Credit: PA
Billy Connolly with his CBE in 2003. Credit: PA

Commenting on a LADbible article about the documentary, many referred to Connolly as the 'funniest man' in comedy, sharing anecdotes of how he's made them laugh until their 'sides hurt' with his inimitable observational comedy.

One person wrote: "The best comic genius of my lifetime. He reflects on his life and the stories he tells are hilarious, brilliant and relatable, as a result he rarely has to tell a 'joke'.

"We band the word 'legend' about far too easily, but this man truly is."

Another commented: "I have literally grown up listening to this man and have laughed so hard my sides hurt. What an absolute heart breaking thought that his time is running out.

"All I can say is thank you to whoever was responsible in putting me on this earth at exactly the same time as this legend."

Connolly and Dustin Hoffman at a photocall for the film Quartet. Credit: PA
Connolly and Dustin Hoffman at a photocall for the film Quartet. Credit: PA

A third wrote: "I've listened to him since I was a kid in the 80s, I'm from Glasgow and all the stories he talked about I can relate too as it all happened back then.

"The man has a talent for story telling and throwing the odd curve ball in there to make you laugh uncontrollably."

Another dubbed Connolly the 'best storyteller ever', while another said he was the 'epitome of humanity', adding that he's taught us a lot about 'love, culture, humour, adventure, empathy, understanding [and] humility'.

Connolly made his name after appearing on BBC chat show Parkinson in 1975, shortly after transitioning from eccentric folk singer to fully-fledged comedian, thrusting himself into the mainstream with one simple but timeless punchline:

During the decades that followed, Connolly went on to become one of the UK's best-loved entertainers.

While he later also became known for a number of TV and film roles including Indecent Proposal, Mrs Brown, Muppet Treasure Island, Quartet and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, it was Connolly's comedy that stuck in most people's minds - thanks to countless skits and witticisms about life that were as amusing as they were relatable, covering everything from getting pissed at the pub through to being Scottish.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2013, but despite continuing to tour for some time after, Connolly now admits it has become harder to work the stage in the way his audiences have become accustomed.

However, his outlook remains positive - and admits he often uses his trademark sense of humour to deal with the degenerative disease.

"It takes a certain calm to deal with, and I sometimes don't have it," he said.

"I sometimes get angry with it, but that doesn't last long, I just collapse in laughter."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Entertainment, TV and Film, Celebrity, Billy Connolly

Jess Hardiman

Jess is a journalist at LADbible who graduated from Manchester University with a degree in Film Studies, English Language and Linguistics - indecisiveness at its finest, right there. She also works for FOODbible and its sister page Seitanists, which are both a safe haven for her to channel a love for homemade pasta, fennel and everything else in between. You can contact Jess at [email protected]

 

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