Comedy legend Billy Connolly speaks about his career and living with Parkinson’s disease

Billy Connolly

Comedy legend Billy Connolly has opened up to Irish chat host Ryan Tubridy about living with Parkinson’s disease.

Connolly was diagnosed with the illness six years ago.

The Scottish star’s diagnosis came just one month after he had been asked to perform at a benefit show for a Parkinson’s charity.

Billy Connolly

He was invited to perform by Irish broadcaster Shay Healy, and now joked that he now blames Healy for the fact he developed the disease.

Connolly told Tubridy: “It was remarkable he asked me to do a publicity thing for the Parkinson’s society and he had done it because I made my name on the Parkinson’s show in England.

“And we posed for pictures and did this Parkinson’s thing.

“And a month later I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s so I’ve always blamed him of giving me it.”

The 76-year-old also revealed what was going through his mind the day he was diagnosed.

He said: “I was pretty stoical because I was diagnosed with cancer the same day.

“It wasn’t a good day. That was a weekend of the hearing aids as well, so I was kind of confused and bewildered and wondered what I had done to deserve it but it all worked out in the end.

“I’m doing okay, as we speak my left hand is shaking but I forgot to take my medicine this morning. The medication is doing me great good.”

Connolly also spoke to Tubridy about the early years of his career, when he would feel extremely nervous before going out on stage.

He said: “I did the dreading thing in the dressing room, and the walk from the stage from the microphone, I changed and get to like it, it was a remarkable thing.

“I’ve often phoned home and say ‘I can’t go on, I’ve got no ideas, I don’t know what to say’ and make my family feel terrible and then I’d walk on and have the time of my life.

“It’s very weird that walk from the wings to the microphone, it changed completely.”

Back then, Connolly was known as much for being a musician as for being a comedian. He said that fellow musicians and comics felt a similar feeling of backstage nerves washing away once they were on stage.

He said: “Christy [Moore] is a great example of that. And Tommy Tiernan is the same.

“He is a quiet, nice, wise guy and then when he goes on stage he becomes this crazy animal.”

Connolly retired last year and revealed that the thing he misses most isn’t actually the exhilarating feeling of being on stage.

He said: “I don’t, I don’t have any pines at all and I don’t really miss it. I kinda miss the travelling and being in different towns and wandering.

“I used to love wandering around people’s town’s before they went on stage. So I miss that.”

Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcallingJoin our community