Billy Connolly announces his retirement from live performance
The comedian says his ill-health has been overstated but his touring days are over
Billy Connolly revealed he had Parkinson’s disease in 2013. Photograph: Matt Crossick/PA Wire
Billy Connolly has announced that after a half-century career in standup, music, film and television he is retiring from live performing.
The news came in an interview where the comedian also revealed he had tried medicinal cannabis to treat his Parkinson’s disease, likened US president Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, and rebutted Michael Parkinson’s claim that his illness had “dulled” his brain.
“He thought I’d lost track, mentally, but I never remember what year anything was,” Connolly told the Radio Times. “I haven’t a clue. I’ve always been about going forward, not the past. Plus, we were doing the GQ event, I was Inspiration of the Year, and I blew everybody away. He should have remembered that ?
“These Yorkshiremen, I don’t think they apologise much. I wasn’t disappointed, it just made my life a bit difficult. People feeling sorry for me, I don’t like that.”
The Glaswegian said reports of his serious poor health were exaggerated. However, he conceded that his touring days were behind him.
Connolly ( 76), who revealed he had the degenerative condition in 2013 and had successful treatment for prostate cancer in the same year, said his illness was now manageable.
He said his wife, Pamela Stephenson Connolly, had become his nurse, and he had given up using medicinal marijuana to relieve his symptoms. “I just got bomb happy. Just stoned. It was quite pleasant, but I don’t want to do that every day,” he said.
Connolly, who lives in Florida, also discussed international politics. He has been concerned by the success of Trump, citing the US president’s election as a sign that fascism is on the rise around the world. He said Trump’s rhetoric was akin to “Hitlerian lie-telling”.
“His rise is part of an international thing,” Connolly said. “It’s happening everywhere. I think it’s called fascism. They can call it white nationalism if they like, or alt-right, but it’s that Hitlerian lie-telling.
“Mocking the press, saying they’re the enemy of the people. It’s kind of frightening. Let’s wait until his time’s up. It will happen. Let’s just hope there isn’t a world war before that.”
Brexit is a “con-job”, Connolly went on to say, adding that he is opposed to Scottish nationalism and refuses to be a flag-waver.
Connolly has been promoting his new programme, Billy Connolly’s Ultimate World Tour, a travelogue in which he gives a guided tour of Florida while reminiscing on his world-spanning adventures, from his sheer amazement at the scale of the Grand Canyon to dancing naked in Orkney. –Guardian