Billy Connolly: I feel ‘duty bound to be dead’

Billy Connolly has admitted he feels “duty bound to be dead” after being overwhelmed with plaudits and tributes.

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 9:04 am
Billy Connolly. Picture: John Devlin

The legendary Glasgow comic has describing the level of praise he has received as an “unbearable burden”.

Sir Billy, who has been voted the greatest stand-up of all-time, said he was beginning to appreciate how much affection and respect he had from his fellow comics.

But he insisted he was embarrassed by the attention and only ever wanted to be seen as “one of the rest.”

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Sir Billy, who was taking part in a question and answer session from fellow comedians on BBC’s 5 Live, he had been “insanely jealous” of people who could write comedy routines, and insisted he had never written down any material before taking to the stage.

The 76-year-old, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2013, retired from performing live last December.

Last week he admitted he would love to make a comeback but admitted he was “not ready to go back on stage,” because his hearing, eyesight and the way he walked were all “beginning to fail,” and he was worried about being compared to the current crop of comedians.

Eddie Izzard, Joe Lycett, Jimeoin, Chris Ramsey and Romesh Ranganathan all quizzed Sir Billy during his 5 Live interview, in which he cited the late Scottish comic Chic Murray and New Yorker Morey Amsterdam as his biggest influences and described Englishman Max Wall as “the funniest comedian Britain has ever produced.”

Ranganathan asked him if he was conscious of how much he was “admired and respected by the comedy community.”

Sir Billy responded: “I’m beginning to get it now. I have been voted the best by people on television.

“I’ve found it an unbearable burden to be called the best. I just wanted to be just one of the rest.

“Recently, it’s been no secret of what people think about me and I’m very, very pleased, but I feel duty bound to be dead. When people are saying these things it’s kind of weird.”

Lycett told Sir Billy: “I find writing the hardest part of the job. I love performing and going out on tour, but the actual constructing of the show doesn’t get any easier. Have you any tips?”

Sir Billy told him: “I’ve never written anything in my life for the stage. I’ve made it all up. I go on with a small thing, add to it the following night, subtract and add as the nights go on. I start with nothing and end up with a story. I can’t help you. I don’t know how to write. I’m insanely jealous of people who can write. I don’t do it.”