Karen Koren: Billy Connolly still best in business

FOR those who saw Billy Connolly at the Usher Hall last week, you enjoyed what could possibly be his final tour.

Billy Connolly - Pic: Comp

He appeared a lot more fragile than we remember him. He dealt with his Parkinson’s disease immediately he came on, saying he doesn’t have the shakes like many, but does have a wandering arm that creeps up his body without him having any control over it, making it look like he is carrying an invisible raincoat.

He has absolutely no self-pity and tells us how the actor Ian Holm, who also has Parkinson’s, advised him to put his hand into his pocket should it start to shake too much. Connolly notes how impractical this could be if you are in an art gallery, innocently perusing the female nudes.

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Continuing with stories that only he can tell, Connolly starts slowly, but before you know it you’re laughing uncontrollably. I loved the stories of touring with the Humblebums in the 60s and the old ambulance that was their ‘shagging-wagon.’ He talks about when he was a smoker. How he liked the untipped variety, which would stick to your lip and burn your finger as you tried to detach them. He tells how this once happened while driving... the lit cigarette fell between his legs causing all sorts of pain. Hilarious. You had to be there.

There are comedians half his age, in full health, with all their faculties, who could never hold an audience the way Connolly does.

Yes he does forget where his stories are going sometimes and goes off on tangents. And yes, under the stage lights it is hard to see his eyes due to the little round specs he wears.

He has his notes on a table which he leans on for support from time to time, but he still covers the stage with funny walks. He still likes to laugh too much at his own jokes, which I find endearing. Then, as abruptly as the show started, it finished. Two hours of entertainment gone in a flash. Amazing, and the standing ovation was well deserved.

The love in the room was very obvious.