Billy Connolly’s return to the Usher Hall is set to prove the hottest ticket in Capital history as fans gear up for a frantic scramble to secure their seats.
Cultural bigwigs believe the Big Yin’s shows in October will eclipse Paolo Nutini’s concert in May, which saw the “sold out” signs go up in record time.
Tickets for the eagerly-awaited High Horse Tour – which comes five years since the comedy legend last brought his unique style to Edinburgh – go on sale tomorrow morning.
Back then, his shows sold out in a “matter of days”, with demand so high that organisers were forced to add extra dates.
Tommy Sheppard, director of The Stand Comedy Club, predicted the Usher Hall would be sold out within hours of tickets going on sale.
“It will sell out in record time, and I wouldn’t expect there to be any tickets left by end of tomorrow.”
Connolly will play four nights at the Usher Hall in October – in a show featuring no warm-up acts or interval – with tickets up for grabs from 9am.
Hailed as the UK’s most influential comedian of all time, Connolly was also voted the best comedian ever by Channel 4.
Mr Sheppard said: “He blazed a trail that others then followed. He changed the game in the 1970s and 1980s. He was an alternative comic before alternative comedy had been invented.
“I remember being amazed that someone could say what he was saying. Comedy should be iconoclastic, and knock people off their pedestals. Connolly did that at a time when light entertainment could be boring and bland.”
Karen Koren, founder of the Gilded Balloon, which has helped launch the careers of comics such as Eddie Izzard and Peter Kay, said Connolly was “one of the best stand-ups in the world” – and that the Usher Hall was the perfect venue. “He won’t play anywhere else [in the city],” she said. “He is quite particular. He doesn’t do what the stand-ups are doing now at big arenas. He likes the Usher Hall because it’s just the right size. He can feel the audience and see them.”
The 71-year-old recently revealed he was battling Parkinson’s and prostate cancer. He underwent minor surgery in the United States after being diagnosed with the very early stages of prostate cancer, with his website insisting that the operation “was a total success” and that “Billy is fully recovered”.
Mr Sheppard said: “I think it’s great that he’s coming, particularly given that he has had a couple of health scares. But he is a creative person who needs to be performing and I am sure he will go on as long as he physically can. He’s got a few miles left on the clock.”
Classic jokes for all the family
BILLY Connolly is perhaps more famous for his taboo jokes and long anecdotes than his one-liners – but here are a few of the rare family-friendly funnies.
• “So, have you heard about the oyster who went to a disco and pulled a mussel?”
• “Never trust a man, who when left alone with a tea cosy . . . doesn’t try it on.”
• “My parents used to take me to the pet department and tell me it was a zoo.”
Connolly’s famous banana feet boots, made for The Great Northern Welly Boot Show, have now become part of comedy legend.
The show, a satire on the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in, had its first Edinburgh performance at the Old Waverley Market during the Fringe Festival in 1972, and led to his big break.