So you think we're not funny, Billy?
HIS expletive-laden tales of Scots life have made Billy Connolly an international star, but while he has admirers around the world, the Glaswegian has admitted he is no fan of Edinburgh humour.
The city may have produced a series of comedians from screen legend Alistair Sim to Ronnie Corbett and Jack Docherty's Absolutely team, but the 64-year-old former shipyard worker is unimpressed.
"I don't know why. I think it's about immigration, because I don't find Edinburgh people all that funny," he says. "They're very interesting and nice, but you wouldn't point to funny as being one of their features."
Connolly suggests the mix of Irish, Jewish and Italian immigrants who moved to Glasgow have helped make it a city with a greater sense of humour.
His comments have sparked a rush of protests, with Edinburgh-born and bred Scotsport presenter Grant Stott accusing Connolly of talking nonsense.
"I'm a big fan of Billy Connolly, but on this occasion I think he's talking rubbish," he says.
"I think Edinburgh people are very funny. It's possibly a wee chip on the west coast shoulder coming through in Billy's unsubtle way."
River City star Billy McElhaney, who grew up in Niddrie, agrees. He says: "What a piece of nonsense. What about Bill Barclay and Alex Happy Howden and Hector Nicol? Hector was writing gags for most of the panto stars as well as doing his own stand-up act.
"Maybe Edinburgh doesn't blow its own trumpet as loudly but there are just as many funny people as in Glasgow."
Perhaps the man who can best judge the strength of Edinburgh's wit is Tommy Sheppard, who runs The Stand comedy club, which has venues here and in Glasgow.
"Edinburgh people are funny," he insists. "A proportionate number of our new young comedians are from the east coast and they are every bit as funny as their counterparts in the west and audiences in Edinburgh laugh every bit as much as those in Glasgow."
Tommy says a lingering stereotype of Edinburgh as a serious city of starchy professionals may be to blame for Connolly's claims.
Laughing it up..
What's your best joke?
River City actor Billy McElhaney, from Niddrie: "Two aerials meet on a roof, fall in love and get married. The wedding was rubbish but the reception was brilliant."
Ken McClure, author of The Lazarus Strain, who was raised in Polwarth: "The funniest thing I ever saw was in Wee Bennett's Bar at the foot of Morningside Road. This was at the time when the new fashion among young people was to wear camouflage clothing. I was standing at the bar and this young chap came in wearing a camouflage top. The barman – one of the old school, always on top of the job – seemed to ignore him completely. This was so unusual that other guys at the bar started to feel uncomfortable about it. The young guy leaned forward and asked for a drink whereupon the barman leapt backwards in mock fright and said: 'Christ! I didn't see you there.' The whole place dissolved in laughter."
Tommy Carson, entertainer and Edinburgh citizen of the year 2007, from Stenhouse: "A gentleman went to the hospital to see the doctor. He'd been going for five years because he had piles he couldn't get rid of. On the way out he bumped into a friend who told him the best thing for piles was to put tea leaves and boiling water in a teapot, let it cool and then rub the leaves on his backside. So he rubbed on the tea leaves and sure enough the piles went. He returned to the doctor to tell him the good news and the doctor asked him to let him see for himself. He took down his trousers and asked the doctor if he could see anything. The doctor replied: 'Yes, you're going to meet a handsome young lady and go on a long journey.'"
Harriet Power, 20, student, London Street: "Why did the blonde stare at the carton of orange juice for an hour? It said concentrate."
Craig Chalmers, singer and star of BBC talent show Any Dream Will Do, from Corstorphine: "A set of jump leads goes into a bar and orders a pint. The manager looks him up and down and says 'OK I'll serve you, but don't be starting anything in here.'"
Author Joan Lingard, born on the Canongate: "A man took his dog to the cinema to see War and Peace. The dog sat beside him and the audience was amazed to see the dog and his reactions to the film. When the heroine was facing dire straits the dog would howl and when things were going well he'd bark and wag his tail.
After the film ended a woman came up to the dog's owner and said: 'Wow, your dog's reactions were amazing' and the man replied: 'I know, I'm surprised too. He hated the book.'"
Elizabeth Dimarco, 57, civil servant, Slateford: "A man walked into a door...Ouch!"
Radio Forth presenter Tonya Macari, from Blackhall: "Why do Frenchmen only eat one egg? Because one egg is 'un oeuf'."
Radio Forth and Scotsport presenter Grant Stott, from Blackhall: "I was in HMV once and bumped into Mike Nolan from Buck's Fizz browsing in the cassette section. I said: 'Are you making your mind up?'
"Tony Hadley was in Radio Forth yesterday. He was walking out and asked me if he had to sign out and I said: "Only when you leave."
"Bjorn and Benny from Abba were in Radio Forth and asked me if I actually liked their music and I said: 'I do, I do, I do.'"
Mike Hall, 40, vet, Morningside: "What's the difference between Bing Crosby and Walt Disney? Bing sings and Walt disnae."
Connie Bell, 34, senior communications officer, Balerno: "Man walks into a butcher shop and says: "Can I get a steak and kiddly pie please. Butcher says: 'You just said steak and kiddly'. Man says: 'No I diddly.'"
Former Olympic athlete Allan Wells, who grew up in the Southside: "A husband and wife have been married 30 years and both play golf big time. They decide for their 30th anniversary to have the celebrations in the golf club. So the husband stands up and thanks his wife for being such a fantastic woman and for looking after him so well. The wife then stands up to thank him for his kind words and says she feels after so many years of marriage it's time she came clean. 30 years ago she was in a bad accident that was so severe it forced her to change sex. The husband is very shocked but gets to his feet and says - now he knows why he's been 30 years trying to beat his wife at golf."
Magician Gary James, from Drylaw: "'Doctor! I have a serious problem, I can never remember what I just said.' 'When did you first notice this problem?' 'What problem?'
Tommy Smith, saxophonist, from Wester Hailes: "Patient: 'Doctor, doctor, I've started barking and eating like a dog. I think I'm turning into a dog. What can I do?' Doctor: 'Rex how many times have I told you off for sitting on the couch?'"
Chris Mckay, 27, joiner, Leith: "Have you ever heard of anything as useless as a one-legged man in an a***-kicking contest?"
Your Views Online
Unsurprisingly, the Big Yin's comments sparked a big din of indignation from onliners, many of whom would like to give him a nice big Glasgow kiss. Just make sure you wear a crash helmet the next time you head east Billy.
Never trust a "comedian" who laughs at his own jokes, on stage! That's you, Connolly! You are not funny.
CB, Somewhere in the EU
Billy "used to be funny, but now he's just a k**b".
Chip Stencil II
Who told Billy Connolly that he was funny, maybe a very strange person from Glasgow.
Alex Paterson, At the moment in Sevilla
Funny how BC never makes jokes about his pals in the Royal Family?
Rory Bremner is one of the best comedians, so was the late great Alistair Sim. All Edinburgh born and bred. Ronnie Corbett is sort of funny, though he isn't really from Edinburgh (East Lothian somewhere I think). I could go on . . .
Road Raga, Edinburgh
Billy Connolly, I thought he died about 20 years ago, or was that his act?
Phil MaGlass, Holland
It's not looking too good for Glasgow's most famous ex-shipyard worker. Never mind Billy, you still have a few friends here . .
I think the comments above prove he's right.
Ken Mare, Edinburgh
Excuse me. All you posters above. Billy Connolly/you lot. Compare. Who's the millionaire? Who must have done/be doing something right?
Curious Yellow, Edinburgh
Oh please, listen to the lot of you. Is there any wonder he said what he did? CHILL OUT EVERYONE, it's all a bit of fun.
Well said. But despite Glasgow and Edinburgh relations suffering immeasurable damage, perhaps Billy's getting the last laugh after all.
He is laughing all the way to the theatre and the bank and back again!