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Billy Connolly finds Glasgow ‘hardest place to perform’

The Big Yin reveals he has suffered from stage fright in a new book collating classic live material.

Billy Connolly: Finds it hard to perform in home city.
Billy Connolly: Finds it hard to perform in home city.

Billy Connolly has revealed he suffered from stage fright for decades and finds his home city of Glasgow the hardest place to perform.

The legendary Scottish comedian has performed to sold-out shows since he started his career in the mid-1960s.

But Big Yin Sir Billy, 76, admitted the thought of going on stage has always “scared the life” out of him.

Writing in a new book bringing together classic live material, Sir Billy, who was born in the Anderston area of Glasgow in 1942, confessed to feeling “riddled with anxiety and self-doubt every time”.

He said he found it difficult to perform in his home town of Glasgow because audiences knew if he was lying or not during his routines.

However, he even told how he feared he was mentally ill because he kept forgetting his routines – until he sought advice from a group of Buddhists.

Sir Bill, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013, announced his retirement from performing live last year, after more than half a century of entertaining audiences.

He wrote: “Being a comedian has always been a bit of a mystery to me, because I actually very rarely get funny ideas away from the stage.

“I can’t churn out jokes like some people can. I wouldn’t know how.

“But I can always tell stories. And the comedy seems to emerge out of the stories as I tell them.

“The thought of going out on stage scares the life out of me. It always has.

“I’m riddled with anxiety and self doubt every time. What the **** am I going to say to these people?

“But the nerves are good for me, they force me to work harder.

“And if I didn’t – if I got complacent – then it could fall flat and I’d make an arse of myself

“But when it’s good, there’s no better feeling.”

Sir Billy worked as a welder in a shipyard on the Clyde after leaving school and recalls in the book how he learned to become a “storyteller” during tea breaks with work-mates.

He wrote: “They could be rough, rude, cruel even, but they were always funny.

“And there were some brilliantly funny men there, much funnier than me, real patter merchants who couldn’t make a life out of comedy.

“But I guess I had a banjo and that gave me a ticket out.

“I usually don’t enjoy performing in Glasgow very much, because it’s my hometown, which is really difficult when you’re a comedian because you can’t lie in your hometown.

“It’s essential when you’re a comedian that you lie well, but when you’re performing in your hometown – and especially in Glasgow where they don’t hang back – they know when you’re lying.”


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