Billy Connolly on why he put aside his pride in ‘brave’ choice amid Parkinson’s disease
Billy Connolly discusses Parkinson’s and cancer diagnoses
It’s about not being proud, being more open
In a recent interview, he spoke about how his dependance on other people used to bother him.
He said: “It’s taught me to ask for help. That used to bother me but you have to be brave enough to ask.
“If I ask for a hand up out of my chair, people can’t get there fast enough.
“You think it’s a big deal but nobody blinks an eye.
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Sir Billy added: “It’s about not being proud, being more open.”
The actor noted that often people have “never heard of him”, a statement that’s hard to believe coming from one of the most influential comedy icons of all time.
“It’s not because I’m famous. They’ve often never heard of me,” he explained.
“People are basically very nice, given half a chance. It’s life-affirming. A lovely thing.”
Billy, who rose to fame after a 1975 appearance on Michael Parkinson’s TV chat show, where he told a joke about a man who buried his dead wife with her bottom exposed so he’d have somewhere to park his bike, now lives in the Florida Keys with his wife of 31 years, comedian and psychologist Pamela Stephenson.
Following his diagnosis in 2013, Billy continued to perform until 2017, the same year he relocated to Florida after making the decision to step back from his career.
He revealed at the time that the disease was affecting his ability to walk and also his hearing.
In an documentary that airs tonight, he speaks about the tough decision to take a step back from what he does best, something ITV describe as a “fitting send-off for a stand-up megastar”.
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Billy confessed that the disease has meant that he’s no longer as “sharp” as he once was on-stage, revealing that it will be his final performance.
“I’ve done 50 years and that’s plenty. Quitting is the right thing to do. I achieved everything I wanted, played everywhere I wanted to… I did it all,” he told The Mirror.
The program will feature an array of his greatest stand-up moments, unseen performances and chats with some big name celebrities, such as Sir Elton John, Whoopi Goldberg and Dustin Hoffman.
“To mark this major moment in comedy history, this star-studded one-hour special celebrates Billy’s anarchic genius and life-affirming brand of humour,” said ITV.
“There are also unique new insights from the woman who knows Billy best – his wife and soulmate, Pamela Stephenson.
“His A-list fans will share their memories of Billy, send him personal messages and pick their all-time highlights from his glorious comedy catalogue. The man himself will react to their choices and reveal his own favourites.”
The statement continued: “Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure is a definitive celebration of an all-time great. An uplifting, emotional and hilarious hour in the company of the legendary Big Yin at his entertaining best.
“It will make you laugh. It may even make you cry. A fitting send-off for a stand-up megastar.”
Billy Connolly: It’s Been A Pleasure airs tomorrow on ITV at 9.30pm.
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